Base training on the RipRow

Hi Lee,

I hope you are doing well!

I am interested, how you structure your endurance training this winter.

I started the Pump Up the Base off-season training program last week and I did half the intervals on the bike trainer and the other half on the RipRow. After each interval, I switched to the other machine.

Later in the program, when the intervals get longer, I will probably also alternate within the intervals.

I read that you are not pedaling at all at the moment!? Are you doing all the PUTB protocols on the RipRow right now or do you adapt anything (the number/lengths of the intervals)?



Hey Lars,

All is well and busy, thank you. I hope you are well!

You’re right that I’m not doing any pedal training right now. In October my body told me plainly that it didn’t want to pedal anymore. So I’ve been doing other things: walking, running, carrying rocks, a little strength work and lots of RipRowing.

The Pump Up the Base  program is a massively effective way to build aerobic power, peak sprint power and pedaling skills. PUTB has dramatically improved my pedaling ability:

When you alternate RipRow with pedaling, you also build full-body strength, power and riding skills.

For the past couple winters I’ve done all of my PUTB training on the RipRow (and I’ve ridden to work and for errands). As a result of pedaling less and RipRowing more, here’s what I’m seeing:

I’m riding without pain in my shoulders and lower back. They both failed years ago.

My whole body, from hands to feet, is way stronger. I’ve gained muscle and lost fat (it sounds like a fitness ad, but it’s true). When the light is perfect, you can see some abs.

My riding skills have a reached a crazy new level. This is at age 49, after 30 years of mountain biking. Seriously, it’s like I just learned a new sport: It’s like mountain biking, but even better.

I’m fitter. Last summer I was PRing our local climbs. I recently returned from two trips to Northern California, where I taught and rode all weekend. Despite not training on the bike, I was climbing great — all day, day after day.

I will start PUTB at the beginning of January. This year I will mix pedaling and RipRowing. Hoping to race downhill and slalom at Sea Otter.

Regarding PUTB intervals on the RipRow:

PUTB focuses on “sweet spot” intensity. At this level you get the greatest physiological benefits with the least beat-down. I suggest making sure all of your work is at sweet spot intensity (except the for the sprints; those should be full power).

In the beginning, PUTB intervals are short, and it’s not too hard to do them on the RipRow at the right intensity.

X minutes on the RipRow is way harder than X minutes on the bike. As the intervals get longer, say over 5 minutes, you might find it difficult to maintain RipRow intensity. I’ve done up to 20 minutes at a time on the machine, but when I’m working that long it’s more like surviving and less like attacking.

When the intervals get too long for you to RipRow the whole time, try using both machines in one interval. For example, you might spin for 5 minutes then hop off and RipRow for 5 minutes. Or spin 7 minutes and RipRow 3 minutes. Or, you get the idea.

I hope this is helpful,


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