Rowing to Music – A Fun New and Effective Fitness Training

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Physical training in indoor rowing machines have been popular in many rowing clubs. A new and motivating training form is to use training programs with rowing adapted music. In this article we will look at how to:

  1. Select music suitable for rowing training
  2. Get free tools for audio editing
  3. Adapt music to your rowing training programs
  4. Motivate and inspire your rowing club friends

The goal is to give you an understanding of how to make your very own rowing training programs with music of your personal taste. It is a fun and rewarding experience.

Energetic music with a clear and constant rhythm is perfect for your rowing program

Browse through your music library to find your favorite music that sounds energetic and motivating. Make a folder for the music on your computer and place copies of the music in it. A selection of slow, medium pace and fast music is needed. Ideally you should have about 10-20 songs of each pace.

We will only use music in 4/4 rhythm. To sort the songs pace you need to count the beats per minute (BPM) in the music rhythm. Music with a BPM within the range of 80 to 128 is suitable. On the internet you can find free software that can auto detect the BPM of your music. But the best and most accurate way is to count the BPM manually.

When training in a rowing machine we talk of rowing pace = strokes per minute. Therefore we divide the musics BPM by 4 to find which rowing pace (strokes per minute – SPM) the music rhythm equals. Add the SPM as a note to songs titles.

You can use a standard stopwatch to measure the BPM and divide it by 4 to get the SPM. There is a special stopwatch model called DIGI DT-320 which in a special mode can read out SPM directly, so you only need to push start and stop. Start the stopwatch when you start counting beats 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 and then stop the watch when reaching the following beat 1. Next step is to edit the music.

Audacity is a free software tool for editing your music

Audacity can freely be downloaded from the Internet. There are versions for both PC, Mac and Linux. There is documentation for the software. Another nice source for learning Audacity is to look for tutorials on YouTube. Audacity offers many advanced features, but we only need a few simple functions for our purpose.

You only need to learn how to:

  1. Import your music into Audacity
  2. Cut away unneeded parts of the song
  3. Fadeout the last 2-3 seconds of the used part of the song
  4. Connect the songs on the timeline
  5. Export the edited songs as a new single music track (the final rowing music program)

The learning curve for using Audacity this way is reasonable short when using YouTube tutorials. Next step is to decide how you will build up your rowing program.

How to build your rowing training program with SPM and time intervals

A classic rowing program would consist of 24 SPM for 3 minutes then 26 SPM for 3 minutes and then 28 SPM for 2 minutes. This program equals approx. a standard 2,000 meter. You can mix the training music programs according to your personal training style and preference. The key to success is to use music that is easy to follow in rhythm. By counting the beats 1-2-3-4 you should end your rowing stroke at beat 1 and begin a new stroke at beat 3.

It is very important that the participating training partners rows synchronously according to the music beats. After a little practice you will find it easy, fun and very rewarding to exercise with music this way. Paces below 24 SPM and over 28 SPM are bit more demanding to follow for less experienced rowers. Remember to praise your training partners for their efforts. Training to rowing adapted music is growing very popular, because it is a lot more fun to train hard to good music. Have fun!