rowing

The 10 Best Strength Training Exercises for Rowing

We’re keeping it simple this winter and focusing on what I’ve culled down to the most effective 10 strength training exercises for rowing. These exercises are a mix of rowing performance exercises, included to increase strength in muscles used heavily in the stroke to drop time off splits, as well as exercises for injury prevention and overall muscular balance and health. Check out the playlist with video demonstrations and coaching cues here and then read on for explanations.

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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!

Overview

Learn the Lifts

Improve Your Mobility

The Strength Coach Roundtable

  • Take us with you on those long erg sessions! I break down strength training topics in rowing with fellow rowing strength coaches Blake Gourley and Joe Deleo. Old episodes and upcoming ones here at Rowperfect UK.

Keep in touch over winter training

When you subscribe to my email list, you get my free mini e-book of the “Mobility for Rowers” series, plus regular updates on new website content, Roundtable news, and notes from my coaching and learning.

Roundtable #4 Recap: Recovery

We really jammed a lot into this episode to talk about recovering from both rowing and strength training. You’ll learn all about active and passive recovery techniques, finding a recovery protocol that works for you, and of course WHY recovery is so vital to both short and long-term improvement, health, and performance.

Hear it also on Soundcloud and iTunes

0:00 — Re-introductions and what we’ve been up to over summer and fall

5:15 — Common and controllable factors that rowers can use to improve their recovery from training

22:20 — How to develop your own personal recovery protocol

45:50 — What you can do right now from home to start recovering better

53:38 — Last words from Will, Blake, and Joe

Questions, Comments, Feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Will Ruth: Twitter, Facebook, StrengthCoachWill.com

Blake Gourley: Twitter, Facebook, RowingStrength.com

Joe Deleo: Twitter, Facebook, LeoTraining.io

Episode 1: Overview of Rowing Strength Training

Episode 2: Strength Training for Performance

Episode 3: Strength Training for Injury Prevention

FAQ: Overhead Press for Rowing

The overhead press is a lift that has great potential for rowers, but also carries more risk than other lifts. The unfortunate result of this is that most tend to discard it from programs when a few simple technical tweaks, adjustments, or mobility drills may be all you need to get on the right track. Executed correctly, the OHP strengthens the entire upper body and builds a bulletproof upper back for better connection and power transfer through the entire stroke. Many rowers with weak shoulder girdles can’t sustain the amount of force that their legs can produce. Their legs go down hard, but their upper-back rounds and all that pressure never makes it down the oar handle. The OHP is also a great developer of many muscles that rowing fails to, making it a great “bang-for-your-buck” exercise for the scapular muscles, triceps, and deltoids.

Thoracic spine, or mid-back, ohpmobility is crucial to being able to perform the overhead press. While thoracic mobility is something that many rowers DO struggle with, it is important to make sure that the athlete receives plenty of instruction before making a diagnosis. Often, what looks like a mobility restriction is actually just an athlete who doesn’t understand the correct technique.

Review the basic technical cues in my “How to Train Your Rower” series on the overhead press. The most common errors I see are starting from a poor rack position, not pressing the bar back toward the forehead, and arching at the low-back. Check out the video below for a detailed explanation and demonstration. (more…)

Hip Health for Athletes

There are a number of chronic and acute pains and injuries in sports that result from a problem in the hips.

hip

[Source: boneandspine.com]

The hip girdle is quite complex, with its four directions of motion and dozens of muscles inserting, attaching, and acting on the various structures. However, don’t get bogged down in complex analyses of each individual muscle and joint. There are a few common practices that most athletes would benefit from in their training to enjoy happy and healthy hips for a long career and great performances.

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Mastering the Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a key basic athletic movement that must be mastered to perform many strength training exercises in the weight-room. Squat, deadlift, push press, and Olympic lift variations are all highly reliant on this fundamental ability, plus, a rock-solid hip hinge has numerous benefits to whatever sport you play. The hip hinge is the basis of the fundamental athletic position. Building strength and endurance of the back, glute, hamstring, quad, and calf muscles involved in hip hinging will make you powerful in many elements of your game.

What is the hip hinge?

The hip hinge is the movement of pushing the hips back, maintaining a neutral spine and no more than a slight bend of the knees, balancing bodyweight between forefoot and heel. This is the power position and is a part of almost every sport–NFL combine athletes hit this position when testing their vertical jump, baseball players prepare for a ground ball in this position, sports like football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer play defense from this position, volleyball players bump from a hip hinge, tennis players serve return from the hinge, Olympic lifters hang clean from this position, and finally, this is the deadlift position. The hip hinge is the point of optimal strength of the main muscles of the lower body: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.


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Mastering the Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a key basic athletic movement that must be mastered to perform many strength training exercises in the weight-room. Squat, deadlift, push press, and Olympic lift variations are all highly reliant on this fundamental ability, plus, a rock-solid hip hinge has numerous benefits to whatever sport you play. The hip hinge is the basis of the fundamental athletic position. Building strength and endurance of the back, glute, hamstring, quad, and calf muscles involved in hip hinging will make you powerful in many elements of your game.

What is the hip hinge?

The hip hinge is the movement of pushing the hips back, maintaining a neutral spine and no more than a slight bend of the knees, balancing bodyweight between forefoot and heel. This is the power position and is a part of almost every sport–NFL combine athletes hit this position when testing their vertical jump, baseball players prepare for a ground ball in this position, sports like football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer play defense from this position, volleyball players bump from a hip hinge, tennis players serve return from the hinge, Olympic lifters hang clean from this position, and finally, this is the deadlift position. The hip hinge is the point of optimal strength of the main muscles of the lower body: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.


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5 Tips for New Coaches

I have enjoyed connecting the dots on my young coaching career. A few of these dots are:

  • Dad buys me a used bench and concrete weights at age 12-13. We have to keep a training log for karate promotions, so I begin journaling my training as my middle school best friend and I do endless variations of bench press and arms exercises. I get bit by “the iron bug” and build the early habit of the training log.
  • Despite no real experience, knowledge, or accomplishments, I become “the guy” in high school writing training programs for himself and anyone who wants one. I latch on to my high school strength and conditioning class teacher and coach. He supervises my senior project after I change interests from sociology/criminal justice to “undecided,” and I do my presentation on strength training for rowing.
  • I play club lacrosse in college and become the de facto team strength and conditioning coach, organizing weight-room and agility and conditioning sessions.
  • I work with a few rowers at my student job and run into them in the weight-room during a lacrosse session. They jump in and I start working with a few of them individually. I decide to major in kinesiology because I enjoy sports and training.
  • Because I’m in the weight-room so much, actual coaches and athletes start assuming I know what I’m doing. The undergrad kinesiology program is backed up, so thanks to one of these connections, I fulfill my year-long internship requirement with the varsity track and field team before I actually begin coursework.
  • I’m giving advice and coaching to 5-6 rowers at this point, and a few of them become team captains/cabinet members. They talk to their coach about strength training and I officially become the team strength coach.
  • I overhear my former lacrosse teammate and then-roommate talking on the phone with the head coach of a new lacrosse program he’s coaching, lamenting their struggles to find a JV assistant coach. I sign my coaching contract the next week.
  • I have a job at a local gym after I graduate. I work it for a while and things don’t work out, so I take a desk job. I have a lot of time, so I start a website so that my high school lacrosse players and college rowers can find technique videos and training resources.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve said things to athletes that I’ve regretted, missed plenty of opportunities, skipped on readings that I should’ve read in school, called plays that didn’t work out, and done some dumb things in the weight-room. I’ve learned a lot from these, and I know I’ll make more and learn from those too.

I’ve also done a few things right that I think would help a new coach. (more…)

Summer Training: Fix Your Imbalances

If you’ve followed my blog and the block periodization method, you know that for most spring 2k rowers, the summer season general preparation block is one of your most productive training times to set up the rest of your year. The main goals of the general preparation block are:

  1. Rest, recover, and heal

  2. Build a foundation of strength and aerobic capacity

  3. Correct imbalances that result from rowing

  4. Enjoy summer and maintain your enthusiasm for the sport

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FAQ: Deadlifts for Rowing

The deadlift is a lift that has the potential to have excellent utility and carryover to rowing. I emphasize potential because many rowers perform the lift with the goal in mind of lifting the absolute most weight or reps that they can, rather than the goal of becoming a better rower. Training for rowing always comes back to this question—am I using this activity correctly to become a better rower? In many cases, lifting the absolute most that you can is NOT actually making you a better rower.

The biggest mistake I see with rowers’ deadlifts is turning the lift into a pull with the back rather than a push from the legs and hips. Performed correctly, the deadlift should look almost identical to a half-slide stroke. Rowers tend to incorrectly set up at the bottom of the lift, often turning the lift into a squat or a stiff-leg pull or failing to maintain a braced torso and neutral spine. Check out my video below from How to Deadlift then read on for more deadlift FAQs for rowing.

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