Anaerobic power is a physiological factor dominating 2000 m rowing race during the start and the finish. Anaerobic capacity relies on carbohydrate availability, therefore lower glycolytic capacities may be of negative effect at the start acceleration and the final spurt in the rowing race.
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Sports Scientist (PhD),
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ANAEROBIC POWER IN
Anaerobic power is a physiological factor dominating 2000 m rowing race during the start
and the finish. Anaerobic capacity relies on carbohydrate availability, therefore lower
glycolytic capacities may be of negative effect at the start acceleration and the final spurt
in the rowing race (Steinacker et al. 1993). Different studies have proposed the following
overall contribution of energy production during 2000 m race (Table 1).
Table 1. The overall ratio of aerobic and anaerobic energy consumption in 2000 m rowing race in
Number of subjects
Aerobic contribution %
Anaerobic contribution %
Russell et al. (1998)
Droghetti et al. (1991)
Hagerman et al. (1978)
Roth et al. (1983)
Messonnier et al. (1997)
De Campos Mello et al.
In boat 87
In boat 13
The reported energy contribution from the anaerobic energy system suggests that it
would significantly influence 2000 m rowing performance.
As anaerobic power has a significant contribution to the 2000 m distance, its testing
validity has also been thoroughly studied.
Probably the most studied method is the maximal oxygen deficit method i.e. the
difference between the estimated total oxygen requirement and the oxygen consumption
established during the maximal test from two to six minutes (Figure 1). The validity of this
method has been shown to be in close relationship with the anaerobic energy produced
in a single muscle group. However, this method is not very practical to use as special
apparatus is needed.
Figure 1. Oxygen deficit during the exercise
General anaerobic power can be estimated as the total power performed during a 30second Wingate test on rowing ergometer.
Jürimäe et al. (2000) also measured anaerobic lactic power as a 40 second maximal
work on rowing ergometer and average power was found to be 613 88 watts. However, it
should be mentioned that an “all-out” test that is limited by time is not the best solution,
since the end of the last stroke may not exactly correspond to the end of 40 sec and
therefore the average power could be reduced. Therefore, a test using a fixed number of
strokes (e.g. 20 strokes) should be preferred for measuring anaerobic lactic power.
Five maximal strokes on rowing ergometer have been used for the measurement of
anaerobic lactic power with maximal values seen as high as 800 Watts (Jürimäe et al.
However, it should be mentioned that those tests are not very practical for training
monitoring as they highly depend on the motivation of the athlete. Also, poor correlations
have been shown with these tests and the actual performance on the 2000 m distance
(Jürimäe et al. 1999). The reason probably is that the capacity of anaerobic power is
limited and increase in performance would be rather as a consequence of economy and
Peak lactate levels after maximal short time effort also give the indication of the use of
anaerobic energy, with male rowers presenting higher values compared to women, as
they have larger muscle mass relative to blood volume. Peak lactate values may reach
as high as 18-20 mmol/L and14-16 mmol/L for male and women rowers, respectively.
Peak lactate levels are also negatively related to the proportion of slow twitch fibers in the
active muscle groups and decrease with increases in performance (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Relationship between maximal lactate concentration and lactate threshold (Steinacker, 1993).
• De Campos Mello F, de Moraes Bertuzzi RC, Moreno Grangerio P, Franchini E. Energy
contributions in 2000 m race simulation: a comparison among rowing ergometers and water. Eur J
Appl Physiol 2009; 107: 615-619.
• Droghetti P, Jensen K, Nielsen TS. The total estimated metabolic cost of rowing. FISA Coach 1991;
2: 1 – 4.
• Hagerman F, Connors M, Gault J, Hagerman G. Energy expenditure during simulated rowing. J
Appl Physiol 1978; 45: 87 – 93.
• Jürimäe J, Mäestu J, Jürimäe T, Pihl E. Prediction of rowing performance on single sculls from
metabolic and anthropometric variables. J Hum Mov Stud 2000; 38: 123-136.
• Jürimäe J, Mäestu J, Jürimäe T, Pihl E. Relationship between rowing performance and different
metabolic parameters in male rowers. Med della Sport 1999; 52: 119 – 126.
• Messonnier L, Freund H, Bourdin M, Belli A, Lacour J. Lactate exchange and removal abilities in
rowing performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1997; 29: 396 – 401.
• Steinacker J.M. Physiological aspects of rowing. Int J Sports Med 1993; 1: 3 – 10.
• Roth W, Hasart E, Wolf W, Pansold B. Untersuchungen zur Dynamic der Energiebereitstellung
während maximaler Mittelzeitausdauerbelastung. Med Sport 1983; 23: 107 – 114.
• Russell AP, le Rossignol PF, Sparrow WA. Prediction of elite schoolboy 2000-m rowing ergometer
performance from metabolic, anthropometric and strength variables. J Sports Sci 1998; 16: 749754.
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More related reading
Metabolic requirements for energy in rowing (whitepaper)
Energy system contribution in 2000 m rowing (research)
Testing for individual anaerobic threshold (whitepaper)
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