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Destination Success

The start of a new year always brings new goals, objectives and motivation to achieve. If one of your goals is to improve your rowing time over a set distance, here are two areas around strength and conditioning that could help you achieve that goal. These are only two areas we are looking at in this article and acknowledge the importance of recovery, nutrition, hydration and sport psychology in any successful program.


Build your engine:
Building a good base is essential to being able to maintain a high-performance level over a set distance or time. Ever seen someone cruising on the rower at what looks like 60% effort, holding per 500m splits that would be 95% of your effort and wonder how they do it? The answer is their base and endurance level.

You have to go slower to get faster. A well-structured plan or training should have periods when you are working at getting that low end endurance better so your capacity increases and you get that 60% measure as high as possible. E.g. Two 20 minutes rate 20 with two minutes light in between. As an indicative place to start, make sure at rate 20 your per 500m splits are around 20% above your personal best or goal. For more ideas on training to improve your base see Concept 2 workout suggestions.

The ultimate goal of building your engine should be to build your base high enough that you can be chilling at 80% and still beating people so when the time comes to need a sprint finish, you still have plenty in the tank to utilise and the confidence to know you have it.

Build your strength:
Weight training absolutely has a place in any rower’s program as it promotes muscular motor recruitment development and expands force production that rowing alone can’t achieve. Weight programs can fit into the category of plyometrics or neuromuscular training, which can reduce injury rates, improve speed and agility and vertical jump, which are all huge properties of a well-rounded rower or athlete.

Where do you start?
There are a few important things to remember before you start any additional training.

  • Seek medical advice if you have any health condition
  • Build movement competence before adding load. i.e. movement quality + movement quantity = performance. All the major weights movements can be performed with body weight or a broom stick before moving onto weighted versions.

Compound movements like squats, deadlifts and cleans all work to develop skill, technique and force. They need to be performed with good explosive technique.

  • Train movement systems. Make sure to train your body from head to toe to ensure you don’t focus on specific areas and create imbalances. For more on specific weights and patterns see the Rowing Australia Drive Extended on Strength and Conditioning video.
  • Train for function. Unless you are a powerlifter, lying on your back pushing your body weight has limitations in sport.

As a final word: Give yourself time. Time to figure it out. Time to learn. Time to fail. Time to progress.