End of Season Fitness Testing

The purpose of this testing period is to determine current fitness, balance of aerobic versus anaerobic capability.  The findings will be used to set priorities for my winter training plan.

My intention is to repeat this same set of tests at the beginning of each major training period to allow me to track long term trends in fitness and witness the ravages of aging quantitatively.

There are 4 specific tests.  These tests are to be done in this specific order.  Only one test will be done in a training session.  A light day of 40 minutes of steady state rowing (<2.0mmol/l lactate power) between each test day.

  1. 2- speed lactate test
  2. Anaerobic Fitness Test
  3. 2K Test
  4. 6K Test

Detailed Descriptions

  1.  2 Speed Lactate Test.

(source:  The Science of Winning, Jan Olbrecht.  Original Source:  Mader A. and H. Heck: A theory of the metabolic origin of “anaerobic threshold”. Int. J. Sports Med. 7, 45-65, 1986)

The Science of Winning is a book about training for competitive swimming.  Since spint rowing events are similar duration to longer swimming events, a lot of the training principles are almost directly applicable.  The 2 speed test is presented as a way to assess the balance of aerobic and anaerobic capability in a swimmer by completing the same test distance twice.  After a thorough warm up, the first trial is done at a submaximal pace, and then after a long rest (15 minutes, active rest) a second time as fast as the distance can be completed.  The test can be done on different distances.  In the book, it was presented with 100m, 200m and 400m distances.  For reference, the time to swim 100m is about a minute, so rowing equivalents would be 250m, 500m, and 1000m.  I believe that I will complete the test at 1000m to align better with the longer rowing competitive distances.

After each trial, a lactate reading at 1 minute and 3 minutes post exercise.  The book recommends testing at 5 min, 7 min, etc after the last trial until the lactate level starts to fall to try to get a more accurate idea of what the peak lactate level is.  Here is the graphic from the book.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.30.09 AM

The two readings are then plotted as power versus lactate and line drawn between the two points.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.30.31 AM

The position of the line along the x-axis provides information about aerobic fitness.  The slope of the line can be used to understand the balance of aerobic to anaerobic power.  I do not expect to get much out of the first test beyond establishing a baseline for future testing.

The thing I like about this test is that it is not as susceptible to judgement as other tests (like the Rojabo test).  Basically, since you are measuring both power and lactate, even if there is minor variation in how hard you try, the line will still give a good idea of how your fitness has changed.

So, the specific guidelines for the test:

  1.  15′ minute warmup including 5 x 10 stroke bursts at test power
  2. Trial #1:  1000m, 6K pace (~1:50)
  3. 15′ rest:  at least 10 minutes active, with lactate tests at 1′ and 3′  (record max lactate and avg power)
  4. Trial #2: 1000m 2K pace (~1:42 ish)
  5. Cool down: 10′ with lactate tests at 1′, 3′, 5′ (record max lactate and avg power)
2. Anaerobic Power Test

(Source: Rowing Faster, 2nd Ed., Chapter 6)

This is a modified version of the Wingate test.  It’s pretty simple.  Row as hard as you can for 60 seconds.  That’s it.  The key to the test is what happens in the 60 seconds.

The instructions are:

  1.  Set the erg to maximum drag factor.
  2. Setup a way to record the power for each stroke, either take a video of the monitor to review afterward, or use rowPro.
  3. Do a 10 minute steady state warmup
  4. Set the monitor for 1 minute intervals with 1 minute rest.
  5. Paddle through the first minute and the first 50 seconds of the rest.
  6. In the last 10 seconds of the rest, crank up the power so you can hit the beginning of the test period going full blast
  7. Row as hard as you can with good form.  Rate up as much as you like, as long as you are taking full strokes.  Do not pace yourself.  The objective is to pull as many watts as you can on each stroke.
  8. As you continue through the minute, your power output will begin to fade.  This is expected and is precisely what the point of the test is.
  9. After you finish, throw up in a nearby trash can, cool down and then get working on data analysis.

If you do it right, you end up with a graph that looks like this…

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 1.43.38 PM

Here is what you try to get from the curve

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.12.31 PM

Here is Table 6.3

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.14.29 PM

So, for me as a heavyweight man, at 52 years of age.  The target peak power is

  • (1 – 22 * 0.3%) * 1000W = 934W (Holy smokes!  That’s a 1:12 pace.  My all time best Low Pull is 1:19.0 (710W), so I expect to fall way short of that benchmark.

As with the 2 speed test.  The main idea here is to get a baseline that I can use to compare to in the future.  Development of anaerobic power is best left to the last phase  pre-competition, unless there is a lot of strength training to be done.  So, I would likely rerun this test about a month prior to competition and then again at the beginning of the competition taper to hopefully see some improvement.

3.  2K Test

Not a lot to it.  Sit down, warm up.  Row 2K.  Record the time.  Used as a proxy for VO2Max power.

4.  6K Test

Same idea.  Used as a proxy to determine Anaerobic Threshold power

Interpreting the test results

In the same chapter of Rowing Faster, they provide the following guidelines for interpreting the test results.  All of these are in terms of power.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.27.14 PM

If the ratios are different, then the amount of effort put into the lower areas should be increased in the training balance.

9 thoughts on “End of Season Fitness Testing

  1. Richard says:

    I did the 1 minute test with a few others a few weeks ago. Still unsure whether to have it on 200 drag or not but the 135 we had probably not enough to get big numbers.

    There was myself a lady and another guy doing it. Guess who did it correctly. Only the lady….
    We did low pull peak power 7 stroke tests as well just so you know roughly what max will be. My doubles partner renowned for fly and die actually paced it well so got it completely wrong.

    How not to do it – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wNgXV_gECLLfgrviVdHc5-PeRI0PxqXRnXDiVrdnWvg/pubchart?oid=2055810352&format=interactive

    How to do it – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wNgXV_gECLLfgrviVdHc5-PeRI0PxqXRnXDiVrdnWvg/pubchart?oid=663370152&format=interactive

    It’s difficult to not try and pace it, but don’t! Try and hit that maximum pull on the first few strokes and then keep it there for as long as you can.

    Liked by 2 people

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