Rowing and Detailed Analysis of VO2/VCO2

The beauty of rowing is that as well as it being seen as an elitist sport it is also available to the whole population as every gym possesses an indoor rowing machine. The difference between the indoor and outdoor activity is that on the water a certain amount of technique is vital whereas indoors the technique needed is minimal

The sport sometimes gives the impression of being rather gentile yet it is actually a beast of an activity. The standard distance covered by the rowers both indoors and outdoors, is 2000 metres and it basically entails the rowers setting a fast pace from the start and then trusting their bodies to maintain their momentum until they cross the finishing line. With the growing popularity of the indoor competitions, and the use of the “ergo” for training, no sport has done more research into endurance performance and training. There are two weight categories for rowing, lightweight and the rest.

GB’s Men’s 8 2000 stroking at 41.4 strokes per minute

The sport produces both massive men and women. Rowing needs long levers and great strength to propel the boat, or the machine, as fast as possible. The average size of a male competitor is between 1.90 and 1.95 in height, weighing between 90 and 95 kgs. The women competitors are usually between 180 and 185 in height, with weights ranging from 75 to 80 kg. The weight of the rowers is pure muscle and the intention of the rowing coach is to train each body to get the best possible performance from it. The combination of gym work, and the constant feedback of results from the “ergo” gives the competitor, and his coaching team, a constant update on the physical condition of the competitor.

One of the most common methods of increasing the performance is by dividing the race into 500m splits, or quarters. The rower then will aim to produce a time in that area of the race. This can be either the simple form of how long it would be to complete the 500 metres, or what the stroke rate is per minute.

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney the Men’s 8 from Great Britain won the gold medal and during the race their average stroke rate was 41.4 strokes per minute, faster than any other rowing event at the same Olympics. In order to tone their bodies to such a condition where the boat is traveling fast for so long, the type of training is looked at in great detail. There are two main periods with the initial period setting the base and the second period making the rowers sharper.

A test for Vo2 and VCo2 performance

The initial training period is where the real hard work is done. This base phase is aimed to increase the intra muscular capillary beds which builds core stamina and endurance.  The deeper the beds the greater the stamina.

During this period the athletes are measured for their VO2 and VCO2 performances. This refers to the amount of oxygen a body can use in one minute’s activity and is a popular method of measuring an athlete’s level of endurance. Measurements are taken for heart rates, plus the volume and content of air that is exhaled during activity. The fitter the body the more efficient it is taking in oxygen using it and getting rid of it in the form of carbon dioxide. Rowers are constantly tested as it gives them a real idea what training is required as they approach a race.

Rowing produces world class athletes. They benefit from training in controlled and well equipped locations. The sport has extended the performances of the rowers in recent years as they have fully embraced sports science and its modern training techniques.

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