Training and performance characteristics among Norwegian International Rowers 1970–2001


Corresponding author: Stephen Seiler, PhD, Institute for Sport, Department of Health and Sport, Agder University College, Service box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway. Tel: +47-3814-1347, Fax: +47-3814-1301, E-mail:


This study quantified changes in training volume, organization, and physical capacity among Norwegian rowers winning international medals between 1970 and 2001. Twenty-eight athletes were identified (27 alive). Results of physiological testing and performance history were available for all athletes. Twenty-one of 27 athletes responded to a detailed questionnaire regarding their training during their internationally competitive years. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) increased 12% (6.5± 0.4 vs. 5.8±0.2 L min−1) from the 1970s to the 1990s. Similarly, 6-min ergometer rowing performance increased almost 10%. Three major changes in training characteristics were identified: (1) training at a low blood lactate (<2 mM) increased from 30 to 50 h month−1 and race pace and supra-maximal intensity training (∼8–14 mM lactate) decreased from 23 to ∼7 h month−1; (2) training volume increased by ∼20%, from 924 to 1128 h yr−1; (3) altitude training was used as a pre-competition peaking strategy, but it is now integrated into the winter preparation program as periodic 2–3-week altitude camps. The training organization trends are consistent with data collected on athletes from other sports, suggesting a “polarized” pattern of training organization where a high volume of low intensity training is balanced against regular application of training bouts utilizing 90%–95% of VO2 max.