Bundle: Summer Strength Training for Rowing

Beyond the sun, warm weather, and vacation time, summer is also a wonderful time to make gains to lay the foundation for the rest of your training year. If you’re a spring 2k rower following the block periodization system, summer marks the turning of the page into the next training year. Whatever you accomplished, however many medals you won, and no matter what PR’s you hit in the previous spring, training for more and faster starts now. Summer strength training will follow the general preparation phase model of block periodization.

“General” is the name of the game for this block of 10-16 weeks. Forget about your 2k or 6k erg time and set some goals outside of short-distance rowing. No one cares how fast you are or how strong you are in July, so don’t waste time and effort trying to hit 2k PRs or new 1-rep maxes now. There’s plenty of time for that later, and working on some different goals now will help you now and in the future. The whole goal of summer strength training is building a broad base and foundation for the rest of the year. High variety of exercises, high variety of rep ranges, and high variety of cross-training.

Why is strength training important for rowing? The answer is simple. Increasing your strength decreases the amount of effort required per stroke, which increases your endurance. Read more about this in the first article below.


Learn the Lifts

Summer is a great time to start strength training if it isn’t a part of your training already. The single biggest factor in your program’s success is how well you perform the lifts. Make sure to get instruction from a qualified coach or trainer if you’re beginning to lift.

Improve Your Mobility

Build Your Knowledge

  • Blake Gourley, Joe Deleo, and I host The Strength Coach Roundtable podcast. Every 1-2 months we do a deep-dive into a topic in strength training for rowing with the occasional guest. We’re always taking questions, too.

Bundle: Winter Rowing Training

As the fall head racing season wraps up in the US, many teams and rowers are looking to avoid the ice and frostbite by ditching the oars and moving into the weightroom and onto the ergs. Here’s a bundle of articles that will be useful to you as you plan your winter training.

If you’re a spring 2k rower following the block periodization system, the winter training block will be about half specific preparation and half pre-competitive, depending on when exactly your fall season ends and your spring season begins. The typical rowing team will conclude fall in mid-November and resume water training in mid-February. In between the seasons is a great time to restore bilateral (left/right) balance and make great gains to set up the spring competitive training block. Cerg1heck out “The Basics of Strength Training for Rowing” for an overview of annual periodization and how all of these blocks fit together with the goal of peak spring 2k performance, then read the other articles for how to accomplish it!


Learn the Lifts

Improve Your Mobility

The Strength Coach Roundtable

Keep in touch over winter training

Subscribe to my email list so you can stay tuned for the next Strength Coach Roundtable episode and hear about some of the techniques I’ll be experimenting with over winter season. Email subscribers get exclusive content about training, coaching, and my studies that doesn’t necessarily make an official blog post.

Summer Training Programs for Rowing

The spring season has ended, the final 2k’s raced or tested, and you’re ready to start down the road of summer training. How can you use the 12-16 weeks of summer to best set you up for the rest of the year?

First, take a break! If you rowed all the way through spring and in to the championships, you might be on Week 16 or so of spring rowing. You deserve a break, and it will benefit your training too. This is called the “Rejuvenation Phase” if you’re using a block periodized program, and programs throughout geography and time have used the 2-3 weeks following a major competitive season as a time to mentally and physically rest, destress, and heal up from hard training. You will find that your energy rebounds and you’ll be enthusiastic for the next training block, instead of dragging into it and possibly carrying over aches and pains. Use this time to pick up a neglected hobby, enjoy some non-rowing recreation, and loosen up a bit on the diet.

Continue reading → Summer Training Programs for Rowing

Mental Skills for Rowing: Part 1

Anyone who has rowed or been around rowers can tell you that this is a mentally difficult sport, and maybe you have to be a little crazy to do it. The constant pressure of technical improvement combined with the drive to improve on the ergometer tests and in training can be a lot to deal with, and athletes not equipped to deal with this stress often find themselves burned out after a few seasons. This article series will teach you some basic mental skills that you can incorporate into your own training as a rower or coxswain.

In the long term,

MST can help reduce anxiety and build good mental habits to lay a foundation for race day and tests. Just like in school, you can’t just cram for a few hours and expect to do well on the test—you have to work at it all quarter.

In the shorter term,

MST can help improve performance by reducing distractions, improving focus, and decreasing anxiety. The basis of short-term MST is maintaining a mindset of positivity and not getting bogged down in uncontrollable factors. Control what you can control, let everything else go.

Continue reading → Mental Skills for Rowing: Part 1

Sport Specialization Is Not the Answer

Will Ruth

I posted an article on Facebook a month ago summarizing many of the problems with youth sports and explaining a few ways that youth and high school coaches could improve the situation. The article was “Does Youth Sports Get the Math All Wrong?” by John O’Sullivan from the Changing the Game Project. Many commenters on the article agreed, but one nonbeliever stuck out. They said, “How do you expect part-time HS coaches to actually do any of this?” and suggested that it would be, “like a Harvard Skytte prize-winning professor coming to 3rd grade to teach quantum physics.”

I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and haven’t gotten a Skytte prize for either of them, but here’s what this part-time HS coach does. First, let’s cover research-based evidence of youth sport specialization vs. non-specialization, or “multilateral” development.

early specialization
T.O Bompa, “Total Training for Young Children,” 2000

#1: “Don’t force, expect, or encourage early specialization”

I encourage all of my athletes to play other sports in the off-season. I don’t leave the “why” up to them—expecting children or HS athletes to read between the lines is a road to frustration. I always played multiple sports, so I talk about what I personally learned and how I applied it from sport to sport. Lead them through it and draw comparisons between their sport and others. Most young athletes won’t see the strategic similarities between soccer and lacrosse or similar skillsets between wrestling and football until you explain it a bit.

Continue reading → Sport Specialization Is Not the Answer

Ditch the Resolutions, Part 2

Will Ruth

Last week we talked about false hope syndrome and why, if you’ve struggled to be successful in achieving your goals, it’s likely the fault of your process rather than an inherent personality flaw. Let’s get to fixing your process!

At a time that is practical and motivating for you to make a personal change, here is how to do it. While the timing is convenient for this discussion because of New Years, what follows is advice for achieving any goal, whether self-improvement oriented, health oriented, or for an athletic pursuit. Absorb these articles, let them percolate for a while, then return to them when the time is right for you to make a change.

The whole key to overcoming false hope syndrome is to replace false hope with real action. Set smaller, achievable checkpoints to help you along the path toward realizing your goal in a realistic manner that is designed for long-term success.

Continue reading → Ditch the Resolutions, Part 2