What do music and rowing have in common? Rhythm matters. Learn about how the rhythm of your rowing affects your performance, which is measured by your Strokes Per Minute (SPM) 


Stroke rate is the number of Strokes Per Minute that you take. This is the cadence or rhythm of your rowing, similar to how RPM on a bike is the number of Revolutions Per Minute. Because SPM is a cadence, it’s measured as a rolling average of your last three strokes.  

Ergatta Tip: Don’t be alarmed in a workout if your SPM doesn’t change as rapidly as your Split does. Find your rhythm and work to maintain it until SPM catches up after three strokes.

For example, at 20 strokes per minute, each stroke should take a full three seconds to complete. This is a quick one second of force during the Drive phase, followed by a slower two seconds of relaxation during the Recovery phase. You will be relaxing twice as long as you are working each stroke. Mastering this will help you become more efficient and improve your performance. 

Strokes per minute visual

Where there are SPM targets in the Ergatta experience, the targets are represented by the SPM visualizer. It functions as a metronome, giving you a visual reference for the time it should take to Drive (the line moves down) and Recover (the line moves up).

When practicing at first, aim for a low stroke rate of 20 SPM while applying light pressure through the footplate. This should feel very easy to maintain and is what you will expect for a Paddle intensity.

Next, practice maintaining a low stroke rate of 20 SPM, while increasing your Split. You can achieve this by applying heavy pressure to the footplate. You should see your split becoming faster, but you still have the same two second recovery time for each stroke. Combining a faster split with a low SPM is going to be your most efficient way to maintain a faster Split for a longer period of time.  

Ergatta Tip: Aim for a lower SPM when rowing longer races and completing your Calibration.

As you get going, practice speeding up your Stroke rate to 28 SPM. You will find this rhythm to be more tiring and less sustainable.  

Ergatta Tip: In shorter races, pair an SPM higher than 28 with a fast Split to set you up for success.

Managing SPM is key to optimizing your performance. Slower SPM will be more sustainable over long distances, while faster SPM will be better for short distances.