Rowing has changed immensely in the last 40 years, with watershed points in training methods and performance standards due to equipment, access to the sport, sport science developments, and more. Modern rowing strength training needs to keep up with these changes to best serve rowers and continue pushing the performance level. I started writing in 2015 because I recognized that I offer a different perspective on strength training for rowing than what I saw first as a rower myself and later as a coach. In this article, I will outline some of my overarching key concepts to strength training that I’ve built around over the years. You can then read more on my website and beyond about specific ideas and methods that support these principles, linked at the end of this article.
Key Points: The ultimate goal of modern rowing strength training is to support a high rowing workload and transfer to improved rowing performance. We do not need to use strength training to attempt to simulate the rowing stroke movement, because rowers already achieve a high workload in the rowing stroke movement via year-round erging and rowing at high volumes. This is different since the 1980s, marked by the popularization of the Concept2 ergometer. The hatchet-shaped blade, also invented by Concept2, became the standard in the 1990s. This changed rowing technique, increased per-stroke loading, and emphasized the anaerobic system in racing with accelerated times. These two innovations represent watershed changes in rowing training, performance, and strength training methods. The modern rowing strength coach is now responsible for more general athletic qualities such as strength, coordination, muscle mass, power, and injury prevention. We work to increase rower force production so that the rowing race pace becomes a smaller percentage of the maximum force potential, improving endurance at submaximal intensities. Modern rowing strength training must be organized (periodized) around a commonly year-round, high-volume, high-load rowing training system. These key concepts shape our use of strength training methods from exercise-selection to loading scheme design.
Table of Contents:
- Strength Training is Transferable, NOT Identical
- Strength, Coordination, Muscle Mass, Power, and Injury Prevention
- Force is the Ceiling, Endurance is the Floor
- Organize (Periodize) Rowing and Strength Training
- Where to Find More Information