One way to measure your progress is to check your recovery rate after a workout. Some rowing machines have this feature but if yours doesn't it's easy enough to do it yourself. So what is your recovery rate and why measure it?
First of all, your fitness level can be determined by how quickly you recovery from physical exercise. There are a number of ways to do this but if you're going to do it on a regular basis, make sure you use the same method. I use the simple one minute heart rate as below.
So. for example, if at the finish your pulse is 130, then at the end of one minute it's 98 your recovery rate would be 32. But note always do the same to compare your progress. When I first started rowing I would do this once a week saw both [R1] and [R2] come down as I got fitter, but thanks to improvements in my fitness the rate ([R1] - [R2]) got bigger as my body was able to recover quicker from the exercise.
But note, don't compare your recovery rate to overs as there are many factors that determine this number. One can be the type of physical activity in question. When I competed in karate events my heart rate would still be sky high an hour after finishing. I put this down the amount of adrenaline still pumping around my system after the stress of fighting (known as the 'fight or flight' response.)
When I was in my early twenties I ran five times a week and completed a number of 10 mile races in under 60 minutes. I trained in karate three times a week, and I swam at least twice a week. So when I came to do a fitness test at the gym I was shocked to find a work colleague of mine who smoked and did little exercise scored almost the same as me! Yet he was barely capable of running for 10 metres let alone 10 miles!
So the moral of the story - use the recovery test for personal comparison only.
When you see your recovery rate start to plateau, you can up the ante with the workout at the start. Either you can row for longer, or, a better option in my view, row faster - up your stroke rate per minute so your pulse is higher.
Please ensure you don't exceed you safe maximum heart rate for your age. Some examples of maximum heart rate are:-
AGE MAX RATE
For a complete list of max rates and target zones for optimum training result, see the excellent article at www.heart.org
Measuring your pulse without a heart rate monitor.
Bearing in mind you have a recovery period of one minute you can't spend a minute measuring it :0)
So if you count 14 in the six seconds, your equivalent beats per minute is 140.
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.