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  • Head of the Charles Training Suggestions

    Sep 18, 2015

    DSC_0026by Kris Korzeniowski, Director of Coaching Education,

    The Head of the Charles Regatta is a kind of American phenomenon. It is one of  largest rowing regattas in the world, combining festivities with serious racing. Placed awkwardly on the third weekend of October, there is not give enough time for serious preparation. In addition, almost every school starts their academic year on the different date which will decide how much time is available to train. Many coaches would like to use this time to teach and correct rowing technique but the athletes want to race and they want to have fun. If it has to be done, selection of the boat is rather simple. The coaches use ergometer results or small boats racing as a criteria. For instance, the top four ergs on each side, or the first four pairs from an inter-squad regatta make the boat.

    Competing at the Head of the Charles is a great motivation for athletes to start training and getting into shape quickly. As much as everyone knows it is a fun regatta, no one wants to do poorly.

    Physiologically, this 3-mile race is a typical anaerobic threshold (AT) effort. For this reason, combination of regular steady state (U2), hard steady state (U1) and anaerobic threshold (AT) workouts should be the basis of the of the preparation for this race.

    Here are some examples of the “hard” steady state (U1) workouts:

    5 x 2k/ 2' rest at (18- 24 spm)
    (2-3) x 19'(4', 3', 2', 1' … 4') at (18, 20, 22, 24 … 18 spm)
    3 x 16’ (4’,4’,4’,4’)) at (20, 22, 24,20 spm)
    (2-3) x 20' (10', 7', 3') at (20, 22, 24 spm)

    All these workouts can be done on the erg or in the boat. They could be competitive but preferably in the single file only to keep intensity low.

    The most popular anaerobic threshold (AT) workouts are:

    2 x 20' (10', 7', 3') at (24, 26, 28 spm)
    (2-3) x 15'(5', 5', 5') at (24, 26, 28 spm)
    3 x 15' – 1st and 3rd at 26 spm; 2nd (17 strokes on/5 strokes off) at 32-34 spm
    (1-2) x 16'(8', 4', 2', 1', 1') at (24, 28, 30, 32, 34 spm)
    1x (5-10k) –  racing at open cadence

    The last two workouts are very good as specific race preparation.

    Talking to a few experienced coaches, it seems that the most common weekly schedule before the HOCR is as follows:

    Mon. – (U2/U1) – (16-18k) steady state  at (18,20,22,18 spm) with some acceleration
    Tues. – (AT) – (2-3) x 15'(5’,5’,5’) at (24,26,28 spm) or 3x 4k at 24,26,28 spm
    Wed. – (U1) – 6 x 2k / 2' rest at (18-24 spm)
    Thurs. – (AT) – 2 x (4-5k) at ( 26,24,26 spm) or 1x 16’ (see above)
    Fri. – (U2) – 16k of steady state, on easy side
    Sat. – (AT) – 2 x 5k  racing at open cadence or 1x8k at open cadence.

    For alumni boats, Mike Teti and the 1987 gold medal men's eight have these suggestions: NO PRACTICE, Get to the boat – 20 strokes at half slide, 20 strokes at three-quarter slide, 20 strokes at full slide, Say short prayer, RACE and Drink, eat, drink some more, have fun!

    About the Head of the Charles Regatta

    The Head of the Charles is one of the largest regattas in the world, taking place on the Charles River which divides Boston and Cambridge, Mass. The field includes entries ranging from juniors to masters, novices to Olympians, and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators every year. High schools, colleges and clubs of all calibers from nearly every state and various countries all compete in this two-day event. Its 50th running in 2014 attracted 2,252 entries from 775 clubs; nearly 10,500 athletes. The 2015 regatta will take place on October 17-18.

    Additional information may be found at:
  • April training suggestions for the high school and college programs

    Mar 30, 2015

    The month of April is the beginning of the racing season for high school and college programs. It means racing every Saturday, or every second Saturday. The real art is to be prepared to race without going too crazy in terms of intensity and to have boats rowing efficiently with good ratio at the given cadence (probably 34 strokes per minute in April). The best workouts for this purpose are competitive pieces with a stroke rate that gradually increases. E.g. TR1—long interval, 5x 5min (1’, 2’, 2’) at (30,32,34). Below are two weekly training schedules—one for training in a week without a race and one for a week with an upcoming Saturday race.

    Type of Workouts

    • TR1 - Transportation, long interval
    • TR2 -Transportation, short interval
    • AT - Anaerobic Threshold
    • U1 - Utilization, medium intensity
    • U2 - Utilization, low intensity




    • March training suggestions for high school, junior and college athletes

      Mar 03, 2015

      March is the month of specific rowing preparation. It means that we continue to work on our major focus of developing aerobic capacity, but we also gear up for the racing season. For this reason, the training program should cover a full range of intensities from steady states workouts (U2, U1), anaerobic threshold (AT) to transportations workouts (TR1-long interval and TR2-short interval). TR2 workouts in the form of one minute or 30-second intervals may yield underwhelming results in the beginning, but my advice is not to get discouraged and keep at it. The athletes will be ok by the fourth week. Add some starts and accelerations after low intensity workouts. The goal is to be efficient at 32 strokes per minute after four weeks of this program. This way, you will be able to race at 34 strokes per minute in April.

      Here are some suggestions for how to go about it. Use these workouts on the erg if your crews are not yet on the water.

      Type of Workout: TR1 – Transportation, long interval; TR2 – Transportation, short interval; U2 – Utilization, low intensity; U1 – Utilization, medium intensity; AT – Anaerobic Threshold.

      Suggested warm ups
      Alternate the days with warm-up “A” and “B”

      Warm up “A” – 4k

      • 2k of (back arms 20 strokes + ¼ slide 20 strokes + ½ slide 20 strokes + full slide 20 strokes) by half the boat only
      • 1k of double pause (at finish and body over) plus pause body over + regular, by half the boat only
      • 1k of warm up, 3-4x 20 strokes at 24, 26, 28-30 strokes per minute

      Warm up “B” – 4k

      • 0.5k (back arms) + ¼ slide +1/2 slide + full slide
      • 2.5k (legs only 20 strokes + legs/back 20 strokes + regular row w/pause at finish, 20 strokes) by half boat only
      • 1k of warm up, 3-4 x 20 strokes at 24, 26, 28-30 strokes per minute

      Use your starting sequence any time you began to row!

      Questions? Email Kris Korzeniowski, USRowing Director of Coaching Education at


    • Make Drills Efficient and Effective

      Sep 30, 2014


      Technical drills are a very big part of coaching. To make a drill efficient and effective, coaches must have a good understanding of what a drill does and how it should be executed. There are many examples of coaches ordering their novice crews to do a drill, such as “all eight, with a pause at half slide, on the square,” because they saw the national team doing it. Not only is it painful to watch, but a poorly chosen drill can set a crew back in the learning process.

      Experienced coaches are very selective and focus on just a few drills that they will use to achieve a particular result. Those coaches know it is not about the number of the drills they use, but it is about choosing the right one and executing it correctly.

      Here are some simple principles for using drills efficiently:

      • Explain the reason for doing the drill, demonstrate the drill, discuss common mistakes in the execution of the drill and make sure the drill is appropriate for the level of the crew.
      • Be sure to thoroughly discuss and demonstrate the drill on land prior to the workout in order to eliminate an interruptions on the water.
      • The boat must have balance in order for the drills to work. When doing the drills, create balance by having only part of the boat rowing. Even the national team does drills by sixes.
      • Make sure to give the athletes enough repetitions, so they can learn the drill correctly and the drill can have the desired impact. Doing 20 strokes of a drill is not enough to have any impact. Keep the same technical focus for a week or two.
      • Doing drills is not a goal in itself. The goal is to improve some part of the technique. Always incorporate regular strokes after each drill to see if the rowers can transfer what they learned during the drills into normal rowing. In other words, see if the drill worked or not.

      Do not kill the fun of rowing by hours of drilling. Keep it simple. Think about your athletes’ age, skill level, attention span and ability to be coached.
    • Kris Korzeniowski’s June Training Tips

      Jun 03, 2014

      As the major championships for high schools and colleges are coming to a close this month, club activities are getting into full swing. Competitive club programs are typically geared towards racing at the Henley Regatta, USRowing Club National Championships and Royal Canadian Henley. Here are some suggestions on how to plan your summer season in preparation for some of the biggest events.

      Week 1
      will be the week of your “goal regatta,” which should contain short taper, rest and racing on the weekend.

      Week 2, preceding Week 1, is a week of super compensation. It means doing workouts at higher intensity, quite a lot of pieces at race pace and above. This overload, followed by the rest in Week 1, should jump performance to the next higher level. Do not be afraid to do it! IT WORKS!

      Weeks 3, 4, etc., prior to Week 2, should be used for the basic training.

      Type of Workout: TR1 – Transportation, long interval; TR2 – Transportation, short interval; U2 – Utilization, low intensity; U1 – Utilization, medium intensity; AT – Anaerobic Threshold

      All additional workouts should be U2 steady state workouts, preferably on the erg. Stay in touch with the erg during the whole summer!

    • May Training Suggestions for High School and College Coaches

      May 12, 2014

      The month of May is championships month. Everyone wants to do well, not to finish the season too early. Usually, there are only two weeks left to the championships. The first part of the first week should be focus on the basic training. The second part of the first week should be some kind of super compensation. It means working much harder than usual, then rest in the first part of second week. This overload followed by the rest should jump performance up to a higher level. Don’t be afraid to do it. IT WORKS!

      Read more here.

    • Training Plan for High School Rowers

      Mar 04, 2014

      March is the month for the specific rowing preparation. It means that we continue to work on our major focus to develop aerobic capacities, but we also gear towards the racing season, which is right around the corner in early April. Here are some suggestions for how to go about it. Use these workouts on the erg in case you are not yet on the water.

      Suggested warm ups, alternate the days with warm-up “A” and “B"


      Warm up “A” – 4k

      • 2k of (back arms 20 str. + ¼ slide 20str + ½ slide 20 str. +full slide 20str.) by half of the boat
      • 1k of double pause (at finish and body over) plus pause body over + regular, by half of the boat
      • 1k of warm up, 3-4x 20 strokes at 24, 26, 28-30

      Warm up “B” – 4k

      • 0.5k (back arms) + ¼ slide +1/2 slide + full slide
      • 2.5k of (legs only 20+ legs/back 20 + regular row w/pause at finish, 20 str.) by half boat only
      • 1k of warm up, 3-4 x 20 strokes at 24,26,28-30

      Use your starting sequence any time you began to row!

      Any questions, email Kris Korzeniowski, USRowing Director of Coaching Education at


    • Back Splash?

      Mar 08, 2012
      Mike Bowers of the Fairmount Rowing Association in Philadelphia wanted to know if having a good catch meant having back splash and asked:

      “I regularly hear coaches make reference to “back splash” and “backing the blade in” at the catch as though that is a good thing. Is it?”
      The answer:

      Hi Mike, in my opinion, racing with back splash is not good because it definitely slows down the boat. It’s ok to row with some small back splash as a drill to teach rowers not to miss water and lift their hands up to make the catch.

      But, the correct entry of the blade into the water should be a scooping motion which allows the rowers to take the boat on the run at the catch when rowing at race cadence.

      Kris Korzeniowski
    • "The rowers should be tied down to the seats"

      Feb 21, 2012
      Here is a brief note on the subject of suspension and some resent studies of it.

      “The rowers should be tied down to the seats,“ was the title of an article that appeared in a Dutch newspaper last fall. The author was making a point that suspension – taking a lot of body weight off of the seat to produce the force during the drive – is the most efficient way of moving a boat, and that this was a direction for the future. There are a few the other studies that confirm this as well.

      One major problem is that too much suspension can result in the rower coming off the seat (also known as jumping the seat). To prevent this from happening, the author of the article suggested tying the athletes to the seat.

      The second point is that this type of power application requires very strong athletes and a special training program. Igor Grinko, who is credited with bringing the concept of  “suspension” to the United States in 1991, was very successful with his Russian men’s quad in the late 1980s. He had four of the best athletes in the Soviet Union and he had special training for them to row this way.

      The Dutch developed a variation of this style that empathized taking very little of body weight of the seat, but still using a “one motion stroke” sometimes called simultaneous, in contrast to the traditional approach of using the sequence  “legs, body, arms.”

      I suspect the author of the Dutch newspaper article was suggesting using even heavier suspension in the future, which would mean transferring much more body weight from the seat to the oar handle and, of course, the possibility of losing the seat.

      We will see if the future is going to confirm this and if coaches will start using more power and more suspension at beginning of the stroke. In the mean time, below are links to videos of crews that use these two different ways of power application. What’s interesting is that all of them were very successful.

      1. Suspension of AUS m2x  gold medal in Beijing   vs.  “Legs, back  ,arms,” -of- GBR lm2x , gold medal in Beijing.

      2. Light suspension of NED lw2x, gold medal in Beijing   vs. Aus,lw2x, gold medal in 2006.

      3. Suspension of NED, m8+  gold medal in Atlanta  vs. “Legs, back, arms “-of, Can , m8+, gold medal  in Beijing  and USA  ,m8+, gold medal in Athens.


      You ask. Kris Korzeniowski answers. Send your coaching-related questions to

    • Quick Catch

      Jan 24, 2012
      Coaches often use the term “quick catch” when talking to their crews about the beginning of the stroke sequence. But what does that really mean?

      The term quick catch can be very easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. For this reason, any discussion about the catch should be accompanied with the video or a live demonstration to make sure that everyone knows exactly what the coach is trying to accomplish.

      A correct catch, or entry of the blade into the water, is probably the most important part of the rowing stroke. The blade has to be locked in the water to allow the athletes to move the boat. If the blade goes into the water with speed enough to get pressure on the face of the blade, to bend the shaft, to lock the blade in the water, that is a correct catch.

      The problem is finding the right speed of entry into the water. A correct catch is relatively easy to execute when the boat is moving slowly. When the boat is moving faster, the athletes have to row at a higher cadence. Coaches call for a quick catch to make sure that the speed of the entry is enough to lock the blades in the water. The excitement of rowing at a high cadence can result in athletes using power instead of quickness and that is a big mistake. Using a powerful vertical catch forces the blade to go too deep and in effect slows down the boat.

      To eliminate this “chopping wood” type of catch, men’s national team coach, Mike Teti, started to call for a slower catch which relaxed the athletes and allowed them to be more patient at the top of the slide. The result was a very direct entry at the right speed.

      Here are a few examples of the correct quick catches.

      1. Germany’s men’s eight, gold medal in 2009
      2. The Dutch women's eight, silver medal in 2008
      3. The Australian pair, gold medal in 2004
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