The Rowing Beep Test

The Rowing Beep Test is a modification of the running beep test, designed to test the aerobic capacity of rowers. The test is a stroke-rate based incremental test performed on a rowing ergometer, based on the research of Alan Metcalfe at the University of Bedfordshire (Metcalf, 2012).

Equipment Required: rowing beep test app or audio file with the appropriate stroke rates, concept 2 rowing ergometer, recording sheets and pen.

Athlete Preparation: Make sure the participants are adequately prepared: well-rested, hydrated and fueled, and familiar with the test procedure and motivated to perform maximally. Give clear instructions about the test and what is expected of them.

Equipment Preparation: The performance monitor on the ergometer can be turned off for this test, the intensity is set by the stoke rate indicted by audio cues from the app. To ensure a full stroke is made each repetition, first get the participant to make a full stroke and hold the position at full extension as a piece of tape is placed on the chain at the point it comes out of the unit. This will be the marker to know that a full stroke is made each time.

Procedure: The test begins with a standardized warm-up and familiarization period of three minutes rowing at 24 strokes/min (females) or 28 strokes/min (males), with the ergometer set at any resistance level. This is followed by a one-minute rest period, when the resistance is set to 10. The main part of the test begins at a stroke rate of 28 strokes/min (females) or 30 strokes/min (males), indicated by audio beeps. Thereafter the stroke rate is increased by one stroke each minute. Ensure the subject reaches the top of the stroke (full extension) with each beep. The participant must continue for as long as they can - the test is over when they can no longer keep up with the beeps (e.g. if misses the chain marker more than three times), when the subject feels that they cannot continue, or when the test reaches the end. Strong verbal encouragement should be given to elicit a maximal effort.

Scoring: The score is the stroke rate or total test time when the test ends. Using the specific test app, the core can be converted to a predicted VO2max score and a rating level. The formula to convert to a VO2max score is unknown.


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