To describe the distribution of exercise types and rowing intensity in successful junior rowers and its relation to later senior success.
36 young German male rowers (31 international, 5 national junior finalists; 19.2 ± 1.4 y; 10.9 ± 1.6 training sessions per week) reported the volumes of defined exercise and intensity categories in a diary over 37 wk. Training categories were analyzed as aggregates over the whole season and also broken down into defined training periods. Training organization was compared between juniors who attained national and international senior success 3 y later.
Total training time consisted of 52% rowing, 23% resistance exercise, 17% alternative training, and 8% warm-up programs. Based on heart rate control, 95% of total rowing was performed at intensities corresponding to <2 mmol·L-1, 2% at 2 to 4 mmol·L-1, and 3% at >4 mmol·L-1 blood lactate. Low-intensity work remained widely unchanged at ~95% throughout the season. In the competition period, the athletes exhibited a shift within <2 mmol exercise toward lower intensity and within the remaining ~5% of total rowing toward more training near maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) intensity. Retrospectively, among subjects going on to international success 3 y later had their training differed significantly from their peers only in slightly higher volumes at both margins of the intensity scope.
The young world-class rowers monitored here exhibit a constant emphasis on low-intensity steady-state rowing exercise, and a progressive polarization in the competition period. Possible mechanisms underlying a potential association between intensity polarization and later success require further investigation.