Rate prescribed workouts (Like Wolverine L4 workouts)

I’ve been thinking a bit about the relationship between rate and pace in steady state workouts. It started with a suggestion from Ben Redman that his target 2K pace was based on his steady state pace governed by the relationship

steady state power ( W ) = 2k power ( W ) * 55%

I had seen this before on the Rowing Illustrated boards and it was generally paired with the guideline that one should row steady state at 18 SPM to try to make sure that power per stroke was roughly the same as race pace work.

This made me go back and dust off the old Wolverine Plan pace charts. These give specific paces for r16 up to r26 based upon your 2K test pace.  Here is an excerpt.


When I looked at them, I couldn’t make sense of how there were derived.

They are not based on linear increase in pace with stroke rate, nor an linear increase in power, nor are they constant SPI, nor are they constant distance per stroke. They are closest to constant SPI, but start at a high SPI, decrease a bit in the middle and then increase markedly as you get up to r24 and r26.  Here are the splits, watts and SPI for a reference pace of 1:43.


An alternative to the L4 paces that are included in the wolverine plan are to use a constant “Work Per Stroke”, or “SPI”.  to derive training pace or power for different rates.  One example of this is a model posted on the BioRow website.  There is a spreadsheet for erg training paces that allows you to plug in the intended race rate and then provides paces for stroke rates higher and lower than that rate for different 2K times.  Basically, the model calculates the SPI for your race pace and rate and then maintains that SPI for different rates.

Another, different approach to constraining rate and pace is “S10MPS”.  This stands for “Strapless 10 Meters per Stroke”, and I think it was promoted as an approach by Paul Smith (His website is here).  A number of very good ergers use this approach which constrains your efforts to try to hit exactly 10 meters per stroke, indendent of stroke rate.  This naturally constrains the pace.  Here’s what that looks like from a wattage, pace and power perspective.


Having looked at the workouts that Paul recommends for his clients, they seem to be constrained to a relatively narrow range of paces from 2:00 to 1:45, which translates to rates between 25 and 30.  I have also drawn the conclusion, but I’m not sure if it is true that S10MPS is a training technique, and then for time trials, and races and some high intensity interval sessions, you strap in and row to pace, without regard to maintaining 10 meters per stroke.  The thing I find interesting about this is that it does really hammer home the idea of maintaining stroke power as you increase rate.  You can see this with the SPI going way up as the paces get faster.

Anyway, having looked at all of this stuff, I have settled on using the simple idea of using linear increases of power with increasing stroke rate.  I am using the 55% of 2K power formula to come up with a reasonable power level for 18SPM and increasing 10 watts for every 1 spm increase.  This is not far off of the L4 levels and the same as the Biorow eWPS approach,  It’s also handy because it’s easy to remember a 10 watt change for each rate.  Here’s are my current targets.


These are reasonable powers levels for rowing on a static erg.  For rowing on slides, where it is quite uncomfortable to row at low rates, I find that I need to shft this whole table by 2SPM.  So, I target 160W for r18, 180W for r20, and so on.

If anyone wants to play with the spreadsheet, here it is:L4 variations


3 thoughts on “Rate prescribed workouts (Like Wolverine L4 workouts)

  1. wjschmidt2 says:


    Your chart is very accurate. Have you thought about adding a column with time duration at each stroke rate? For example, I can maintain a 2:00 pace at stroke rate 20 for 60 minutes, but I can only maintain a 1:39 pace at stroke rate 36 for 2 minutes. Also, at each stroke rate what type of training level can be expected to be achieved, i. e. AT, TR, UT1 or UT2.

    My current training pace is sr 24 at 1:57 to 1:58 pace for 30 minutes. Doable on a daily basis anything faster would require a hard day easy day approach.



    • gregsmith01748 says:

      That’s an interesting thought. I guess that would be similar to the guidelines in the interactive training program, where the workouts are specified by zone and provide rough pace and spm guidelines. I’ll have to give it a little thought and repost the table.


  2. Jack Gilmore says:

    Greg, thanks so much for the WP L4 operational hints! I’ll drop back to 168 thru 180. Derating my 2k watts and upping the ratings is also an interesting idea. 16 rate for me means oausing at recovery or keeping the ratio by counting and exaggerated body and handle movement. Like marching in The Ethiopian army! JackG


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s