Strength Training During the On-Water Season

By Kirsten Preskenis, NASM CPT

A well-rounded athlete has a solid foundation of aerobic fitness, flexibility and strength. Rowers are no exception. In fact, all three components are critical for the success of the individual and the boat as a whole. As championship seasons approach however, many of these athletes focus solely on cardio – sidelining the other corners of the fitness triangle.

Strength training, in particular, gets its time to shine in the winter months as rowers are forced indoors. But, it’s important to continue a variation of that training as you transition to on-water training. Resistance training helps bone density, builds muscle mass, and can correct muscle imbalances that rowing alone may not address.

Now, I’m not saying to add a five-day lifting split to your program during championship season. What you may need is much simpler than that. What benefits athletes is a total-body routine with compound movements that hit multiple muscle groups at once. In the personal training world we call this “vertical loading,” or a circuit-style, full-body resistance workout. Here’s an example:

Warm-up: 10 minutes on treadmill followed by dynamic stretching.

Workout: 12 repetitions per exercise. Perform workout circuit-style and repeat for a total of two sets.

Total Body: Squat to Overhead Press

Chest: Bench Press

Back: Lat Pulldown

Shoulders: Dumbbell Shrugs

Biceps: Bicep Curls

Triceps: Bench Dips

Legs: Deadlifts

Cool-down: Static Stretch and foam roll

You can do this circuit two to three times per week as your schedule allows, and rotate in different exercises for each body part. You may find that it gives you an edge in competition!