Erg Training



This is the 10-week erg progression designed for dragon boat paddlers. The intention of this training is preparation. Although we work with heart rate zones (HRZ) and we are training them in each session I encourage the use of other cardio equipment such as an elliptical, swimming or rowing machine when doing a fitness program to provide cross-training. This just keeps us from overusing paddling muscles and prevents injury! The 3 forms of cardio mentioned use full body or both the upper and lower body as we do in paddling dragonboat.


10 sessions

10 drills

2000m, 500M and 200M focused training

Progressive in DB distances

Intended to begin heart rate zone training for peaking


  1. Use in progression as each session builds on the one prior
  2. Each distance and HRZ provides a progression from the first to the last session in that particular distance
  3. 10 weeks is a good start to prepare paddlers for a water season but is NOT enough time to “peak” each HRZ which is why I recommend doing cardio beyond erg training if you aim to increase fitness!
  4. The drills are NOT in a progressive order although they do build the DB technical stroke skills independently
  5. I use an outrigger-based stroke that focuses on linear rotation, take what works, leave what you don’t need!
  6. Feel free to use any drill as they are interchangeable with any session
  7. Once all 10 sessions are complete, do 1 of each distance or (HRZ) per week for continued training
  8. These workouts are completely specific to the dragon boat race distances
  9. This program is designed to prepare paddlers for the water season and can be used a few months before the season starts
  10. If using this program for more than 10 weeks see #2 for selecting ongoing training sessions
  11. There is a setup for the Concept2 rower with an adapter. If you use another piece of equipment, please refer to your coach’s drag or resistance preference
  12. When in doubt about choosing resistance I encourage users to remind themselves that this piece of equipment and the program is used for training and as such you can progress resistance as you increase fitness!



The only way to know we are improving our skills or progressing our training is to measure the following. Please track the following criteria in each session:

  • Distance per piece
  • Distance of each session (only valuable if repeating sessions)
  • Wattage or average wattage
  • Distance per stroke if this is available


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