As the saying goes - go hard, or go home. But how do you maintain your maximum physical effort for any decent amount of time? Our YMCA trainers are here to help. They've put together the perfect challenge to set you on the right path to improving your power and endurance.

The challenge
Row the maximum distance possible in one minute. Each week try to beat your PB, and at the end of the month you’ll be able to see an improvement in your ability to maintain peak power over a decent length of time.

What does it measure?
Short, sharp and sweet, the one minute row is the equivalent of a 400m sprint - minus the pounding on your joints. More than anything, though, this test will measure your ability to stay on the gas even when your lungs and muscles are telling you to hit the brakes.

The benefits
You’ve hit your maximum power, the sweat’s beginning to run down your brow and it feels like there’s nothing left in the tank. Why should you keep going? Why even put yourself through this power and endurance test in the first place? Science provides a few encouraging answers. Research shows that training at peak exertion can:

  • Increase your heart size
  • Increase your muscle mass
  • Increase your anaerobic endurance (your ability to keep going even when your muscles are starved of oxygen)
  • Burn fat
  • Lower your cholesterol 
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your HBA1C levels (an important measure of blood sugar levels for diabetics)

Move it – the right way!
Finding that fluid movement on a rowing machine is an art form. That’s why we’ve put together some pointers to help you move the right way.

Drive from your feet and maintain a tall position throughout (minimal curve in your lower back).

When returning after a pull stroke, keep your legs reasonably straight until the handle is just past your knees – then you can bend your knees.

Ensure each pull is a ‘full’ stroke - this will give you maximum metres per stroke. Go fast, but leave a bit in the tank for the last 20 seconds.

Once you hit the 40 second mark it’s time to empty the tank.


How will I feel?

In the first 20 seconds – great! Between 20 and 40 seconds you’ll start to wonder why the timer is going so slow. It’s tough, but hang in there.

At the 40 second mark it’s time to go for broke. It will be hard to breathe at this point because you’ve used all your oxygen and energy sources. Your body is running on zero and your cells are filling up fast with carbon dioxide.

Three, two, one… the minute is up! You made it. Take a breather and pat yourself on the back. It’s time to rest and replenish before you hit your workout and, as rough as you may feel immediately after, you’ll recover quickly.