row2k Features
How Strength Training Should Shift During Racing Season
June 14, 2016
Leo Training

You have spent a large portion of your year building an aerobic base and developing lactate tolerance. As you moved indoors over winter training you continued to develop your condition and prepare for the racing season. You're erging quite a bit and you may even be hitting the weights at your local gym or strength and conditioning facility at your university. Now, you are back on the water and the priority has shifted.

Development and improvement is no longer the focus. The priority is on gaining speed on the water, staying healthy, staying injury free, and maintaining your strength! But, there is a critical issue to this. You're now at the boathouse or your community rowing center and you don't have an immense gym of weights and equipment at your disposal. Heck, you may just have the old-school coffee can barbells my coaches had me use!

We are going to ditch the weights for a moment and focus on bodyweight training to maintain and build strength during the competitive season. Wait, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Aren't you the kettlebell guy?” I am, but this isn't a one trick pony. You must adapt to your environment.

Bodyweight training offers athletes the ability to get a strength training session in anytime, anywhere and also allows them to simplify their schedules and routines. For coaches, it provides you with less logistics to worry about and less equipment to transport. It also saves programs money!

In this article the program will focus on two movements: The One Arm Push Up and the Hardstyle Sit-back. I will expand on other bodyweight exercises in future articles.

Why these two moves?
A lot of movements make up the rowing stroke. There is hinging, rotation, pulling, and pushing. To counteract the drive phase (lower body push, upper body pull) we need to do the opposite movements. These strength movements are an upper body push and abdominal work that will help rowers transfer power through their torso from the foot stretcher to the oar handle. The One Arm Push Up also provide coaches with an on the fly screen of strength symmetry.

Programming Recommendations:
These are high tension movements. Consequently, these skills are to be executed with very low reps. Stick to sets of no more than 5 reps. Remember, quality over quantity. Shoot for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps. If those are too high for your current ability level then do single rep sets. It bears repeating that you should never sacrifice quality and always leave a little bit of energy in the "tank." You are doing this to compliment your rowing so pieces on the water should take priority over this type of work. Do your strength work after your on the water session. Why, you ask? We want the nervous system to be as fresh as possible for the work in our sport and the strength training work is a compliment to that not the priority.

Here is a sample program:

Easy Day:

  • One Arm Plank (Build to 10 seconds) 3 x 5 (on each side)
  • Hardstyle Sitback 3 x 5

Medium Day:

  • Planche Push Up 3 x 3 (on each side)
  • HardStyle Sitback 3 x 3

Hard Day:

  • One Arm Push Up 2 x 1(on each side)

Without further ado, here is the video on the One Arm Push Up and HardStyle Sitback.

1. Tsatsouline, Pavel. Hardstyle Abs. Dragon Door Publications. E-book. 2012. 2. Tsatsouline, Pavel. The Naked Warrior. Dragon Door Publications. Print. 2003.


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