For no reason other than that I’ve been asked about trying to group my workouts into some kind of training order, I’ve decided to, well – do that.

There are now two plans to pick from – the original plan 2000m below, and the 5000m plan which got underway Mid September, and it likely to keep going until the New Year. Both plans will improve your speed and fitness.

What I’ve done, is taken a bit from various free plans, including the Pete Plan, and the FMWOW and also my experience with several paid plans over the years, and moulded a plan that works for these YouTube videos. By which I mean, they’re all time based, instead of a mixture of time and distance.

The initial thought was to follow The Pete Plan by the numbers – but, between an aversion to outright plagiarism, a combination of the Pete Plan’s pacing and stroke guidance, AND the fact it’s distance based – means I’ve used it only as part of the inspiration. (I also got in touch with Pete and checked this was ok. He was very supportive)

But I do want to make it VERY clear how influential The Pete Plan is on this plan, and for more information, I recommend you go to



This is a PERFORMANCE PLAN, designed around a 3 tier system.

Bottom Tier – Foundation / engine building rows

Mid Tier – Hard efforts that take their toll, but with rest periods to let you recover

Top Tier – The tough stuff. Sprints / Time trials – top end heart rate workouts.

What follows is a workout order. Two things will be part of this, and it’s up to you how to do it.

  1. I will record a workout for each day of the 6 session Plan in order, covering a 4 week cycle. I’ll then create playlists for each of the week length options with just these videos.
  2. I will also label all of the workouts on the channel, so you can substitute and pick what one you want to do that day. In other words, if the day you’re training says it’s a BOTTOM tier day – just go to the channel, and pick one of the workouts tagged as a BOTTOM TIER.
DAY6 session Plan5 session Plan4 session Plan3 session Plan


Example Week with Rests

Here’s an example of how you may spread rest days through the first week of the plan:

DAY6 session Plan5 session Plan4 session Plan3 session Plan

If you are following the specific RowAlong plan videos on YouTube and are not doing the 6 session plan, skip the first bottom session.
(W1S1 / W2S1 / W3S1 / W4S1) – Start on W1S2 / W2S2 / W3S2 / W4S2

The difference is Week 4 – which is test week. The TOP tier session that week is a 2K Test – to see how you’ve improved over the weeks. If possible, try to take your rest day either the day before the test (Session 5), or take your rest day before Session 4 (which is a ‘prep’ row for the 2K test).

4 Week Rotation

Without a goal, and some way to test how the training is going, this kind of plan can fizzle out quite easily. Which is why Week 4 is the performance peak. Here’s how it will go for each of the options:

On the 6 day training plan:
S1 is the same intensity.
S2 is MID but not TOO mid.
S3 is a prep-your-body day
S4 is the tough session.
S5 is recovery
S6 gets you back into the saddle.

On the 5 day training plan:
S1 is MID but not TOO mid.
S2 is a prep-your-body day
S3 is the tough session.
S4 is recovery
S5 gets you back into the saddle.

On the 4 day training plan:
S1 is MID but not TOO mid.
S2 is a prep-your-body
S3 is the tough session.
S4 is recovery

On the 3 day training plan
S1 is MID but not TOO mid.
S2 is a prep-your-body day
S3 is the tough session.
(It’s important that you still take time over the following days to stretch and recover)

In all cases, it’s suggested that Week 4 of the plan is Test Week. This is when the TOP tier session that week is a 2K test. The rest of the week is a bit easier that previous weeks in order to make sure you are fully energised for the 2K test. You don’t have to do a test in Week 4 – but if this is the case, you may not want to do the specific Plan Sessions listed below for Week 4 – and just swap in other BOTTOM / MID and TOP tier workouts.


Stroke rate is simple enough – follow me. And the session will have a stroke rate guide

Pacing – this is up to you. Here are the options I’ll provide:

  1. Pacing based on a 2K current time. You row a 2000m, and then the average 500m time is your 2K pace. So if you rowed 2000m in 7:40 – your average is 1:55 per 500m – regardless of whether you started at 1:30 and dropped to 2:30 or if you held 1:55.
    Using this 2K pace, I then give you a +/- number – so 2K+15 in the example above means you would row that piece at 2:10.
    At the end of the four week phase, consider doing another 2K – as you should have got faster through all the training.
  • Effort / 10. This one can be tricky. I say “This one starts at 6/10” – and you pick a pace that you know feels like 6/10 effort. But then you stick to THAT pace throughout. Even if it starts to feel like it’s 8/10 – the pace you started at as your 6/10 is your pace.
    The danger with this method is that it’s easy to cheat yourself. If you sit at the machine, and don’t fancy a tough day, you can just ease back a bit on the pace, and convince yourself that it feels like it’s 6/10.
    One way to get around this is to write down your pace. So if you set into a 30 minute row at 20spm – and it’s a 6/10 effort, once you’re sure you’re happy at 6/10 – write down that pace. Do the same with other effort values, and strokes per minute, and you should have a reference.
    At the end of the 4 week phase, re-assess your internal effort guide – as you should have got faster through all the training.
  • How much can you talk? This one is even woollier! But taking the three tiers:
    BOTTOM – you should be able to talk through most of the row. You’ll be out of breath, and need to stop talking to catch your breath, but 90% of the time you’re ok.
    MID – You’ll be able to answer questions with a short sentence, but need a few strokes to catch your breath before you can speak again.
    TOP – Apart from single word encouragements – you’re not really in the mood, or have the time in between breathing heavily to talk. Leave it for the rest periods!
  • The long haul – I won’t often refer to this. But this is for people who like to work from the bottom up. Taking into account that BOTTOM / MID and TOP need to be progressively harder – you row each session at a pace you can complete it at. Then the next time you row a similar session, you go slightly faster if it felt too easy. Keep on increasing your pace as the weeks go by, and eventually you’ll hit the right training load. This can take a LONG time of experiment to get right. But if you have patience, and can clearly define the three training loads – then this may work for you.

It must be said, each of these options lends itself one way or another to the kit you’re using too. If your machine doesn’t have a /500m display, then you’re not going to be able to use option 1 above.


I’ll admit, one of the reasons I’ve never done the Pete Plan as stated on his website is that the rest periods just looked way too long for my liking. I’m used to much shorter rests to go with the active interval.

However, when looking at the MID and TOP tier workouts with longer rest periods – the point is that the rests are there to reset your body before putting you through the hard effort again.

So in the case of the 4 x 4min / 5min rest in Week 3 – you could look at that and guffaw at it – but the point is that you’re rowing these 4minute intervals at 2K+1 pace – and you need to be able to come back to each interval and row it at that pace without slowing down – whilst also keeping this at a MID tier level.

The 5 minute rests let you do that. Any shorter, and this workout tips solidly into the TOP tier workout where it’ll start to feel too hard to hold the pace and you’ll either slow down – or completely exhaust yourself (which is what the TOP tier session that week is meant to do).

So although you may look at individual workouts as ‘too much rest’ or too soft (in the case of the 30 mins at 24spm at 2K+18) – don’t. This is all part of a plan. Each workout is there to be part of the whole. Much like the first 5 minute rest in the above example that may seem too long – when you get through the entire workout, you’ll realise that the first rest interval is just as important as the last one in terms of allowing you to complete the session at the right pace while staying at a MID tier workout.


On a Concept2 rowing machine, an RP3 and a SkillRow, ‘Drag Factor’ is not the same as resistance. But on some other machines, the dial or lever you turn IS a direct resistance.

Here’s a video all about drag factor on the Concept 2 if it helps. Otherwise, skip it and read on!

The key here is to find a setting that allows you to row without causing yourself injury. Too high a drag factor or resistance can lead to the rower fighting against the machine – often by grabbing early with the arms, and leaning back too soon, taking the power all through the lower back. This is not ideal at all, and can end up with serious injury.

I will often talk about technique through these videos. Not ‘Just’ because I’m a technique bore, but because it is the key to you rowing without injury, which then allows you to go faster, and get fitter.

With that in mind, here is my suggestion on how to set your Drag Factor / Resistance.

  1. Concept2 / RP3 / SkillRow

    If you’re rowing on one of these machines – I recommend setting the drag factor to 130 +/- 15 depending on how it feels to YOU. And leave it there for all sessions. The only time I ever increase my drag factor is for a 100m or 1 minute full out effort.

  2. If you’re using a rowing machine that just has a resistance, and it doesn’t correlate to the pace you’re rowing at – then I suggest setting it at half-way when you start. Then:

    Row 500m as fast as you can. If you feel that your muscles died before your breathing/cardio got worn out, then you’re too high. If you felt that your cardio system was exhausted, but you hardly worked your muscles, you’re too low.


The key is to set your Drag Factor or resistance to get the right benefit from each session. And to make sure you can row all three tiers of this plan without the risk of injury.

The BOTTOM tier rows will not overly tax your muscles or your cardio system. You will get a good workout – you’ll be out of breath and hot – but you won’t be lying on the floor afterwards.
*You may even get to the end of this workout and feel like you should have worked harder. As a stand-alone workout, this may be valid. But as part of a plan – it’s important that you DIDN’T work too hard i

n this session

The MID tier rows will start to work your cardio and muscles hard through the rows. You’ll feel the burn in your muscles and your breathing will be laboured. But there is usually either a rest period to allow you to recover and continue with the next interval – or is a single piece that never quite ‘breaks the bank’.

The TOP tier rows will take you all the way. You will exhaust your muscles and cardio system through these rows. Sometimes in one hit, sometimes gradually through intervals, and sometimes with enough recovery to go at it again and exhaust your system over and over (I call this “Exposure to Hardship”).


You have three options.

  1. Just start rowing, don’t worry about setting anything on the monitor. The downside to this is that when you come back to the same row, you won’t really have a way to compare results. Also, on some machines, the monitor will turn off after 1 minute of inactivity – and you’ll need to start it again if the rest periods are longer than that.
  2. Program the monitor to the actual workout. So if it’s 4 x 4 minutes with 5 minute intervals – you’d program exactly that into the monitor. The downside to this approach is that eventually, we’ll be slightly out of sync – unless you start at exactly the same time as me.
  3. But if you’re on a Concept 2 rowing machine, you can fix this by setting the rest intervals to UNDEFINED REST. You’ll still have the same 5 minute rests, but it’ll take into account the slightly delay, and we’ll always be able to start at the same time.

Here’s a video on how to do that, if you don’t already know:



Week 1 S1 – 30 minutes at 22spm – 2K+18

Week 1 S2 – 6mins x 5 at 28spm / 2K+5 with 5 min rest between each

Week 1 S3 – 2 x 20min at 18 spm and 2K+20 – 2 min rest between

Week 1 S4 – 8 x 2minutes – faster than 2K pace – 3:30 rests

Week 1 S5 – 12 mins x 3 at 20spm – 2K+18 rest 1:30 between

Week 1 S6 – 20 minutes at 26spm 2K+9-10


Week 2 S1 – 30mins at 20spm 2K+18

Week 2 S2 – 4 x 8 mins at at 28spm / 2K+5-6 with 5 min rests

Week 2 S3 – 3 x 12mins at 24spm 2K+18 (this will feel light) 2min rests

Week 2 S4 – 1min/2/3/4/3/2/1 – Rest 1:30/3/4:30/6/4:30/3 – Stick to 2K pace

Week 2 S5 – 20 mins x 2 at 18spm – 2K+20 rest 1min between

Week 2 S6 – 24 minutes at 26spm – 2k+10-12


Week 3 S1 – 30mins at 26spm 2K+18 (this will feel very light)

Week 3 S2 – 4 x 4 mins at at 30spm / 2K+1 with 5 min rest between each

Week 3 S3 – 30mins at 18spm 2K+20

Week 3 S4 – 12/10/8mins 5 min rests at 2k+7/8 – 26-28spm

Week 3 Session 5 – 10mins x 4 – 2K+18-20 rest 1min between

Week 3 S6 – 20 minutes at 28spm – 2k+9-12

WEEK 4 is TEST WEEK – Prep for a 2K Test in Session 5

Week 4 S1 – 3 x 12mins at 18spm 2K+22 2min rests

Week 4 S2 – 7/5/3/1min at 24/26/28/30spm with 1 min rests at 2K+12/9/5/max

Week 4 S3 – 5 x 7mins at 20spm 2K+18-22 – 1 min rests

Week 4 S4 – 1 min at 2K rate and pace – then 19mins at 18spm – 2K+22

Week 4 S5 – 2K Test (Max)

Week 4 S6 – 30mins alternating 18/20spm every 5 mins. 2K+ 20 and 2K+18
(This is a recovery row after the 2K – so if you want to go slower, go slower.)


I’ve realised over my time rowing, going back 25 years when I just used it as cardio training as a squash player – that feedback, having somewhere to ask questions, announce your successes, share your failures, and generally feel part of a community is extremely important.

  • If you’re struggling – you sometimes need to know you’re not alone
  • If you’re succeeding – you can help others as an inspiration
  • If you’re confused – asking a group of like-minded people will provide you an answer
  • If you’re alone – being part of a community will motivate you to continue and improve

The comments section on the YouTube videos is an excellent way to help others know if a session is effective / hard etc. and I encourage everyone to continue to post their comments on the videos.

Alongside this, is the Facebook community for RowAlong – https://www.facebook.com/groups/rowalong