Fellow rowing strength coach Blake Gourley and I co-authored a three-part article series for the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s NSCA Coach online magazine in 2019-2020. These articles are available for free to NSCA members, and available for purchase for non-members below. NSCA Coach aims to provide practical, evidence-based training resources to strength coaches across sport specialties and athlete populations. The publications are reviewed by an editorial review board, and are written in a more conversational tone than peer-reviewed academic journals. We’ve included demonstration pictures, tables, and sample programs as relevant.

Our goal with this series is to move the worlds of rowing and strength training closer to each other. We want to inform strength coaches interested in learning more about rowing training and performance, as well as rowing coaches and rowers interested in learning about strength training practices. In Part 1, we break down injury research and identify methods in rowing and strength training for rowers and coaches to reduce risk of injury. In Part 2, we address strength training for rowing performance, with details for needs analysis, periodizing, and programming. In Part 3, we discuss energy system development and bring it all together with alignment of strength coach, rowing coach, and rowers.

nsca coach rowing

Our three articles first appeared in issues #6.4 (November 2019), #7.1 (February 2020), and #7.2 (May 2020). NSCA members can access journal archives here to read all back-issues of NSCA Coach, included in your NSCA membership.

Non-members may purchase the articles below for $8 each or all three for $20. Clicking the Paypal buttons below each issue will take you to Paypal for payment, then redirect you back to my website for immediate download. You will receive an email confirming your purchase.

Purchase the Trilogy ($20 – save $4!)

Part 1: Reducing Injuries

Part 2: Strength Training for Performance

Part 3: Energy System Development (Conditioning)


Get Part 1 Only: Reducing Injuries

“Nearly all indoor and Olympic rowing world records have occurred in the last decade, and all since 1990, thanks to increasing popularity, a greater quantity of skilled rowers, more advanced training methods, and major technological innovations. Unfortunately, injuries are more common in rowing than in other non-contact sports, and even some contact sports (22). In one prospective injury analysis of rowers, researchers found that 20 international rowers sustained 44 total injuries, for a mean injury rate of 3.67 injuries per 1,000 exposure hours (22). In another study, researchers found 72 episodes of low back pain reported by 40 international rowers, for an incidence of 1.67 low back injuries per 1,000 exposure hours (11). Injury studies indicate that 31.8 – 51% of rowers experience low back pain, and approximately nine percent experience rib stress injury (8,23). The majority of injuries in rowing are overuse injuries, resulting from a combination of poor technique, excessive load or training volume, movement limitations, muscular asymmetries, and inappropriate training practices (6,16,20,22). This article is the first in a three-part series discussing strength training practices in rowing, with the first focusing on reducing injuries in both rowing and strength training practices…”

Get Part 2 Only: Strength Training for Performance

“This second article of the series focuses on strength training for rowing performance. Increasing general force potential can improve peak stroke power, endurance at submaximal intensities, and the ability to achieve technical positions required in rowing. This article will also provide information on periodization strategies for rowers of different competitive levels and schedules, as well as include sample periodization plans and sample programs to demonstrate key programming strategies…”

Get Part 3 Only: Energy System Development

“This installment will focus on energy system development. It starts with a needs analysis of energy system elements in rowing performance, and then address three key issues in conditioning training of rowers. First, the quantity and mode of training must align with the abilities of the athletes and the major goals of training. Second, strength and conditioning coaches should have a system of periodization to account for changing needs and priorities over a year of rowing training. Third, strength and conditioning coaches should be familiar with best practices for concurrent strength and conditioning training to maximize adaptation to training with minimal risk of interference or injury. This article will conclude with an analysis of opportunities and challenges for strength and conditioning coaches who work with rowers and who may act as advisors to rowing coaches on physical and physiological development…”

Get Rowing Stronger!

“Rowing Stronger: Strength Training to Maximize Rowing Performance” is the comprehensive guide to strength training for rowing, from first practice of the off-season all the way to peak championship race performance, and for everyone from juniors to masters rowers. The second edition is available now in print and e-book.

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