plyometrics for rowers

Plyometrics for Rowers: The Complete Guide

Plyometric exercises are common in training programs to develop muscular power. Power will develop together with strength in beginner strength training, but more experienced athletes may need specific training for power development. Power, or rate of force development, is important for rowers who want to get the most out of each stroke, especially those rowing eights with an emphasis on early drive force. Using plyometrics for rowers requires an understanding of what physical qualities we’re trying to train, which plyometric exercises are most appropriate for the level of athlete, and how to add challenge to match athlete progression. In this article, I will review the rowing-specific plyometric research, apply general research on plyometrics from other training resources, and provide practical recommendations on plyometric teaching progression, exercise selection, and training for rowers of different levels and ages.

Key Points: Plyometrics for rowers can be safe and effective for improving rowing performance, as long as they are properly planned, instructed, and programmed with the rest of rowing training and strength training. Rowing research indicates that plyometrics can improve peak power in a short-duration erg test, 500-meter time, and detailed power characteristics like drive speed. In order to use plyometrics for rowers, we must have a safe landing space (ie. not concrete), good landing technique to absorb impact safely, an understanding of why plyometrics exist to train power (not endurance), and ideas of what plyometric exercises we can use for rowers of different strengths, competitive levels, and ages.

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olympic lifts for rowing

Why I Don’t Use Olympic Lifts for Rowing Training

“Olympic lifts” commonly refers to the snatch and clean-and-jerk exercises, and their variations, whether or not one is competing in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. One of the oldest forms of Olympic sport, the Olympic lifts are a tradition in sport training for sports other than Olympic weightlifting. I don’t use Olympic lifts for rowing training, which is a somewhat controversial position. In a 2011 study of Great Britain rowing coaches and rowing strength coaches, 26 of the 30 coaches responded that they used some sort of Olympic lifting in their training program, with 19 coaches awarding the top importance rank to the clean exercise (eight coaches selected the squat).

I believe that Olympic lifts are remnants of traditionalist coaching dogma, and that other exercises are more effective for the goal of developing strength and power to build better rowers. The Olympic lifts are a time-intensive method of training, and are too dissimilar to the rowing stroke to expect significant return on training time investment to rowing performance. In this article, I’ll explain why I don’t use Olympic lifts for rowing training, and what I use instead to build strength, power, and muscle mass to carryover to rowing performance and reducing risk of injury.

olympic lifts for rowing

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kettlebells for rowing

Kettlebells for Rowing Strength Training

Kettlebells can be a useful tool in your strength training for rowing toolbox to develop strength, power, and muscle, if you know what you’re doing with them! In this article, we’ll discuss some of the research on kettlebells in strength training, and methods for using kettlebells for rowing strength training. A fellow strength coach of rowers wrote me earlier this year with how she uses kettlebells for rowing training programs, and we’ll hear from her as well, plus some sample programs.

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rowing peak power training cover picture words

Rowing Peak Power Training

Rowing peak power is the main training goal of the pre-season or pre-competitive block of training. This phase of training occurs between the off-season and race prep or the in-season phase of multiple races. We take the base of general strength, muscle mass, and aerobic fitness that the rower developed in the prior off-season training phases and turn it into boat-moving, flywheel-spinning peak power for fast starts, power moves, and sprints.

This article is Part 3 in my annual programming series. Read “The Basics of Strength Training for Rowing” for the general overview of the annual strength training plan, and then individual block-by-block articles for Part 1 Off-Season/General Prep, Part 2 Specific Prep, and Part 4 In-Season/Race Prep.

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