Efficient, effective year round rowing and strength training

Sunday, August 14 2022

Rowing Physiology

Maximum Heart Rate Test

Workout intensity is most times measured based on a percent of maximum heart rate (MHR). Depending on what level of steady state you are doing this could be from 65-75% of max. Anaerobic Threshold workouts are usually performed at 80-85% of max. It is important to know your MHR so that you can train in the prescribed zone so that you can get the most out of your training. MHR can be estimated by taking your age and subtracting it from 220 (males) or 226 (females). For a person just starting to workout or for someone that does not work out that often then this is ok to use. For the serious athlete it does not make sense that all men 45 years old will have the same MHR. The most accurate way of determining MHR is to perform a MHR test. This is done on a Concept 2 rowing machine. The test is performed by increasing power by 25 watts each 90 seconds until exhaustion. Your heart rate at the end of this piece should be your MHR. Review the details below to do the test:Before Starting:

  1. You should be in good health and following a fitness program before trying to do a MHR test.
  2. If you have any type of heart related problems you should check with your doctor before doing the test.
  3. Master athletes or athletes that are at risk for heart disease should have a stress test done before exercising.
  4. Have at least 48 hours of easy training or rest before doing the test.
  5. Don't consume alcohol 24 hours before the test.
  6. No coffee or tea 3-4 hours before the test.
  7. Have a partner do the test with you to record heart rate and pace. Use our recording sheet which you can download here.
  8. You will need a heart rate monitor.
  9. This is an uncomfortable test where you are going to push yourself to total exhaustion. Be ready for it mentally. If you don't feel comfortable doing this then use your age minus 220/226. This is ok. At least you will have some numbers to work off of.

Test Protocol:

  1. Warm-up for 10' at an easy SS pace. This should be a pace that you can hold a conversation easily with (note what pace this is). Rest for 2-3'. Stretch and get some water. Determine the progression of your test on paper. The pace that you start out with should be the easy steady state pace. Use the conversion table below. It will be easier for you to row at 500M pace than watts.
  2. Get back on the machine and row for 90 seconds at your starting pace. Record heart rate at the end of 90 seconds.
  3. Increase power by 25 watts and hold for 90 seconds. Record heart rate at the end of the 90 seconds.
  4. Keep increasing power by 25 watts every 90 seconds and recording heart rate until you can't go any further at the target pace.
  5. Record the heart rate when you stop. This is your MHR.
  6. You should be prepared to be on the machine for 10-15'...maybe longer.
  7. When you are done make sure that you keep moving either by walking or rowing very lightly for 10-15'.

Conversion for 500M Pace to Watts Refer to the attached chart to convert Watts to 500 meter splits

updated: 13 years ago