With great power comes great responsibility (in efficiently maximising your cross-training days). We asked some of our favorite Hydrow and USA Triathlon coaches how to up the ante when it comes to triathlon training. The coaches came together to help us maximize the benefits of rowing for increasing overall power output. They’ve identified quick, easy, and low-impact workouts — both on the rower and the running track — that can improve performance times, and help you sustain your triathlon training for the long term.
Row, Run, and Increase Your Power
Coach Earl Walton, Director of Education, USA Triathlon**
Coach Walton’s workout is meant to build leg speed, turnover, and acceleration — translating into power gains on the road. It is most effective on a track or with outdoor landmarks so runners can sense visual indicators of pace.
Warm-up: Start with 5 minutes of easy running followed by 5 minutes of “lamp post pick ups.” This means increasing your speed to a moderate-to-fast pace until reaching a lamp post, driveway, or other specified landmark that is about 20-30 yards away, and then dropping back to a slow pace, repeating for 5-10 landmarks (until you’re sufficiently warm).
Main Set: Complete 10 sets of 1-minute “fliers”. Each flier starts with a 25-step build that slowly brings your pace to full speed. Then, hold that full speed effort for the remainder of the minute. Rest as needed between fliers. Keep in mind these should not quite be full sprints — you’ll want to pick a speed that you can sustain for all 10 sets.
Cool-down: Take it to an easy jog to cool your body and bring your heart rate down. Stretch and apply your favorite cool care for tired muscles.
**“Variable Hill Repeats”
Matt Clancy, USA Triathlon Level III Certified Coach**
Coach Clancy’s favorite power workout for running includes sets of hill repeats (descending in duration, ascending in effort) based on threshold heart rates.
Warm-up: Jog for 8-10 minutes of easy running, building in your favorite warm-up drills for the final 3-5 minutes.
Main Set: Complete 3 sets of uphill repeats, paying attention to your Heart Rate Threshold (HRT)* during each set. Your Heart Rate Threshold (HRT) will be the average heart rate from a recent race or very hard training run of 45-60 minutes in duration.
- Set 1: 7 x 90-second uphill efforts at HRT, 90 sec. easy jog, 60 sec. Rest.
- Set 2: 5 x 60-second uphill efforts at HRT + 5bpm, 60 sec. easy jog, 60 sec. Rest.
- Set 3: 3 x 30-second uphill efforts at HRT + 10 bpm, 30 sec. easy jog, 15 sec. Rest.
- Cool-down: Take it down to your “easy pace” run for 10-15 minutes.
**“Broken Hill Repeats”
Coach Morgan Hoffman, USA Triathlon Level II Coach**
Coach Hoffman’s Broken Hill Repeats is a great workout for the runner or triathlete who prefers “training by feel” over exact intervals. The main set of this workout is broken into two sets of 10 minutes with an easy walk/jog recovery in between sets.
Warm-up: This warm-up builds in 3 phases: Start with 10 minutes of easy running or run/walking with focus on light feet and great form, followed by your favorite dynamic stretching. Then perform 15 feet of run drills each of skips, butt kicks, fast feet and side shuffles, followed by 3 sets of gentle strides (5 seconds build to run, 5 seconds at 90% effort, 50 seconds slow jog) with a 5 minute easy to moderate run to warm into the hill repeats.
Main Set: First, complete 10 minutes of running up and down a hill. To do this, climb 1-1.5 minutes at 70% effort with great form and fast feet. Then, jog down the hill very easily. Repeat as many times as you can in the 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, complete the entire sequence again for another 10 minutes, but run with 80% effort instead.
Cool-down: Walk for 5-10 minutes, and do some dynamic stretching (again!)
“10-Stroke Accelerations for Power”
Coach Chris Palmquist, USAT Paratriathlon National Team Coach
Coach Palmquist’s 10-stroke accelerations are meant to build speed and power while upping your overall power on the rowing machine.
Warm-up: Warm up gradually over 5 minutes, building from easy to moderate rowing. Then, build from easy to “quick and strong” rowing over 5 strokes. Then row easy for 45 seconds. Repeat one more time, then rest or row easy for another minute.
Main Set: Complete 5-10 sets of 10-stroke accelerations. To do this, start “slow and easy” and build up to ”quick and strong” rowing over 10 strokes. For each set, give yourself 2 total minutes. Perform the 10-stroke acceleration at the beginning, then recover with easy rowing for the remainder of the 2 minutes. Be sure to keep your focus on good form during both the accelerations and the easy recovery rowing.
Cool-down: Row easy for 2:00-4:00 until your heart rate and breathing have recovered.
“30-on / 60-off”
Coach Megan Hanewald, Hydrow Personal Coaching Supervisor & Lead Coach
Coach Hanewald’s rowing workout is meant to boost your power while engaging your entire body in a focused set of sprint intervals. You can find this same workout on Hydrow by filtering for Nick Karwoski’s 15 min. “Need for Speed Row”, 9/4/21 from Boston.
Warm-up: Warm up easy for 10 minutes in Zone 1 (or conversational pace), gradually allowing your heart rate to rise into Zone 2. If you only have 5 minutes to spare for a warm-up, take 4 sets of 10 strong and fast strokes (“Power 10s”) at increasing intensity, increasing stroke rates.
Main Set: Over the span of 15 min, complete 10 sets of 30-second rows (“On”) at increasing stroke rates and dropping splits. Between each set, complete 60 seconds of easy rowing. (“Off”). On your Hydrow, complete the following intervals at the following rates:
- (3) 30-second sets at 26 strokes per minute
- (3) 30-second sets at 28 strokes per minute
- (2) 30-second sets at 30 strokes per minute
- (2) 30-second sets at 32 strokes per minute
Cool-down: Over 10 min. Allow your heart rate to drop to Zone 1 and hold there for 5 minutes.
“8-minute Pace / 2-minute Fast”
Coach Nick Karwoski, U.S. Professional Triathlete and Hydrow Athlete
Coach Karwoski is a former triathlete who competed on the ITU circuit. Now, as a Hydrow on-screen Athlete, he turns to rowing to increase his power. This simple routine is about making every stroke count.
Main Set: Complete 3 sets of 10 minutes each. Within each of the 10-minute periods, spend the first 8 minutes at 18-20 strokes per minute, going at a pace about 10 seconds slower than your goal pace. For the remaining 2 minutes of the set, increase your stroke rate to 24 strokes per minute, going at a pace 5 seconds slower than your goal pace. To determine your goal pace per 500 meters, perform a 2k maximum effort test or do the 5-min assessment on Hydrow. Learn more here.
- 8 minutes @ 18-20 strokes per minute @ 10 seconds slower than goal pace
- 2 min @ 24 strokes per minute @ 5 seconds slower than goal pace