Strategies for a Seven Minute 2K on the Concept II Rower

By Greg Glassman

This article, by BSI’s co-founder, was originally published in The CrossFit Journal. While Greg Glassman no longer owns CrossFit Inc., his writings and ideas revolutionized the world of fitness, and are reproduced here.

Coach Glassman named his training methodology ‘CrossFit,’ which became a trademarked term owned by CrossFit Inc. In order to preserve his writings in their original form, references to ‘CrossFit’ remain in this article.

Download a pdf of the original article HERE.

Our purpose here is to show specifically how a simple goal, like rowing a seven-minute two thousand meters, can not only be systematically and deliberately approached from multiple protocols, but can generally encourage similar thinking in pursuing other fitness milestones. Set the rowing ergometer for two thousand meters, row, and note the time at completion. Repeated regularly, the time to complete the two thousand meters will fall. Eventually, you may pass under the seven-minute mark and become one of the “better rowers.” This is one obvious and common approach to training for a 7 minute 2K on a rower (2K/7).

Let’s look at another approach. Set the rower for seven minutes and row, and note the distance on completion. Gradually, the distance for the seven minutes will increase. Eventually, you may pass the two thousand meter mark and become one of the “better rowers.”

The two approaches, “distance priority vs. time priority,” represent distinct yet converging processes for reaching the 2K/7. These two approaches suggest a third: hold the rate constant for as much time or as many meters as possible. With the “rate priority” efforts, you would hold the 500 meter pace at 1:45 and note when the average 500 meter pace fell under 1:45 by either time or distance. Eventually, you may carry the 1:45 average 500 meter pace for seven minutes at which point you’ve again become one of the “better rowers.”

Three different roads to the same end – two thousand meters in seven minutes. Each of these methods occurs at different intensities and within different time domains, and therefore in terms of bioenergetics, they cross-train for the singular goal of 2K/7. (The order of increasing intensity is “distance priority,” “time priority,” and “pace priority.”) Three metabolically distinct yet convergent paths to the seven-minute goal offer great psychological and physiological advantage over any of the individual approaches alone.

Slightly more complicated but extremely effective would be an interval approach where the two thousand meters is rowed in ten intervals of 42 seconds. Set the rower for intervals of 42 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. If you row 10 of these intervals and get 200 meters in each you’ll have experienced the 2K at the seven-minute pace with the advantage of nine 30-second breaks that stopped the clock.

On the next attempt you could set the rest for only 25 seconds while leaving the work at 42 seconds and see if you can get 200 meters in each of ten intervals. You’ve now rowed the 2K at the seven-minute pace again, but this time you reduced your resting time by 45 seconds. With each successful run where you manage the 200 meters in each of ten intervals you can drop the rest time by 5 seconds on the next workout. Eventually, you’ll be able to eliminate the rest. At that point you’ve achieved the 2K/7, this time by the interval approach.

Here’s yet another interval regimen towards the 2K/7. Start with 42 intervals of 10 seconds each followed by thirty seconds rest. If you’re able to manage 48 meters in each of the 42 intervals, in your next workout try 35 intervals of 12 seconds each followed by thirty seconds rest. If you’re able to manage 57 meters in each of the 35 intervals, then you’re ready for the next interval in the progression where the work interval increases, the number of intervals diminishes and the rest remains thirty seconds. The following table shows the progression from easy to tough.

Number of Intervals Duration of Work (Seconds) Duration of Rest (Seconds) Meters in Each Interval Total Time for Workout (min:sec)
42 10 30 48 27:30
35 12 30 57 24:00
30 14 30 67 21:30
28 15 30 71 20:30
21 20 30 95 17:00
20 21 30 100 16:30
15 28 30 133 14:00
14 30 30 143 13:30
12 35 30 166 13:00
10 42 30 200 11:30
7 60 30 286 10:00
6 70 30 333 9:30
5 84 30 400 9:00
4 105 30 500 8:30
3 140 30 667 8:00
2 210 30 1000 7:30

More important than the particulars of any approach is the variety or breadth of stimulus in moving towards your target. You’re limited only by your imagination and will power. Each distinct approach adds a unique advantage to your overall strategy.

This particular goal of two thousand meters in seven minutes is a prominent benchmark in an athlete’s development. The Concept II Rowing Ergometer is particularly amenable to interval training because of its marvelously flexible console, allowing for customizable inputs for intervals. However, don’t lose sight of the more general lesson of incremental, metabolically distinct, and converging methods contributing to an efficient strategy for success.