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6 Questions with Michael Hsieh: Competitive Masters Rower and Erg Sprint Gold Medal Winner

Michael Hsieh began rowing just over 2 years ago. In that period of time he was able to win gold at the 2019 Erg Sprint Indoor Rowing Competition which is one of the largest indoor rowing competitions in the world. We spoke with Michael about his journey as a rower and how he was able to achieve such a great accomplishment in a very short amount of time with the help of Humon.

Who is Michael Hsieh?

Michael Hsieh is a full-time physician out of George Washington University and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC. He is also a competitive masters rower training with the Capital Rowing Club. He grew up playing Lacrosse and Tennis competitively but only started rowing about 2 years ago.

How were you able to win one of the biggest indoor rowing competitions worldwide in such a short amount of time?

“When I first started rowing 2 years ago, I was very slow, about the 20th percentile in the 2k row for my age and weight class. I quickly learned that rowing is unique and is what’s called a power endurance sport. Not only do you need the stamina of a medium distance runner but you also need to be able to sprint long distances and therefore need to train across different distances and paces. Often times training based on how you feel can be very deceptive because rowing is extremely mental and this is where Humon became extremely useful.”

Michael Hsieh with gold at the 2019 Erg Sprint Indoor Rowing Championship in Alexandria, VA

How did Humon help you accomplish these goals?

“I attribute training with Humon daily as one of the reasons I was able to reach such a high level in a short period of time. It’s been super useful for training, in particular knowing when I am warmed up sufficiently, but also for sprint interval training, and to get a handle on when I am overtraining. Some workouts I do based on pace or HR but I also reserve specific workouts based on muscle oxygen which is really only possible with Humon. For example sprint interval training and threshold training where I try to hold my muscle oxygen in the orange zone”.

How do you use the Humon to help you warm up optimally?

“I typically warm up for 20 minutes before high intensity workouts such as the 2k or 5k erg test. Using the Hex I’ve found that muscle oxygen supply is best when I do 15 minutes of steady state rowing followed by 3 sets of builders at the stroke rate I want to maintain during the workout”.

Example of Michael’s warm up data (0 – 27 min) followed by a 2k Erg sprint (27 – 34 min) and recovery

Aside from just training sessions, was Humon useful for your 2k time trials?

“I actually used the Hex during the Erg Sprint Competition. I’ve found that there is a very characteristic curve to my muscle oxygen graph when I go all out on the 2k. It typically decreases quite rapidly, followed by a more linear decrease once I hit the red zone for the rest of the time. This is what I see when I am competing at an optimal pace. If I am ever going less than optimal, I see different trends in the data and know if I need to push harder or slow down.”

Can you give an example of your weekly training routine?

“I typically train every morning during weekdays on the water with 2 of those sessions being intervals. I also workout 3-5 nights a week at the gym with weights, on the erg, and running.”

Finally, what are your current goals as an athlete?

“My main goal right now is to get faster at the indoor 2k sprint. The world record for my age and weight class is just over 6 minutes and I’d love to get as close to possible to that”.

If you’d like to follow Michael’s journey check him out on Instagram @hsiehmichael, on Facebook @mhhsieh or Twitter @perforin. You can also find us @behumon on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.