For the last six weeks or so all sessions on the rower have been Tabatas (a very intense 20 seconds, 10 seconds rest, repeat 8 times - damper on 10). They certainly increase anaerobic capacity, but the science also tells us they are more effective at increasing aerobic endurance than steady exercise over 60 mins! So today I tested that by doing 5000m (damper on 7) on the rower to see what my time would be. Typically that used to take around 20:25 or so. It would take a good day to get under 20 mins; and I was tired to start with today. I did mange under 20 mins though and it did not feel as hard as normal (and certainly not as hard as the 4 mins of tabata!). I've not done any distance rowing for a few weeks, so you'd have expected it to feel hard and times to be poor. Not so!
It seems my little experiment matches what the proper studies found. I also think the Tabatas have cut fat better too; although that could be that my back niggles have gone and hence I'm training more intensely generally? I think Tabatas will be the rowing norm for at least the next few weeks though :-)
From the study by Tabata: "In conclusion, this study showed that moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems."