row2k Features
The Transition from the Rowing Machine to the Boat: Part II
April 6, 2016
Leo Training

In Part I of this article I established how the rowing machine places different demands on the human body. In Part II, I will outline a warm-up routine that you can do for the rowing machine or boat that provides a solution to the different stresses placed upon the body.

In a recent podcast, world renowned physical therapist, strength coach, and elite powerlifter Charlie Weingroff described the four criteria a warm-up should meet:

  1. Increase tissue temperature
  2. Prime the mobility you have
  3. Prep the central nervous system
  4. Rehearse activities of your impending training session or competition

This warm-up routine meets all of that criteria as well as accomplishing the following for rowers:

  • To provide the individual with the ability to do it anywhere, anytime with minimal equipment.
  • To improve the requisite mobility needed for the rowing machine and boat while simultaneously improving their reflexive stability.

This warm-up will improve your thoracic extension and flexion which you need for the rowing machine and your thoracic rotation which you need for the boat. You will also improve your hip mobility which will alleviate added stress to the lumbar spine (low back) and allow greater compression at the catch. Once you have improved your mobility you need to lock it in. You only have a finite window of time to do so - otherwise you are just starting from ground zero at each training session.

To lock in this newly acquired mobility we will add in some static stability exercises that challenge the anti-rotational capabilities of the trunk and lumbo-pelvic region as well as the central nervous system.

The crawling ties everything together; crawling will increase tissue temperature, prep the central nervous system, and prime the body for the cross body patterning involved in the rowing stroke.

The video below takes you through step by step through this ten minute warm-up.

Joe DeLeo is a former collegiate rower turned strength coach. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He holds certifications as a Functional Movement Specialist, Rocktape FMT II, and is a Level I Girya with StrongFirst.

He lives in Providence, RI; you can read his blog posts at


  1. Boyle, Michael. Cook, Gray. The Joint by Joint Concept. Movement. 2010. p 319-321. Print.
  2. Weingroff, Dr. Charlie. Iardella, Scott. “Moving Beyond Training Equals Rehab” RdellaTraining Podcast. 2/10/2016.
  3. McGill, Dr. Stuart. Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, 5th Edition. 2014. Print.
  4. McGill, Dr. Stuart. Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention. Strength & Conditioning Journal. June 2010 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - pp 33-46.
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