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7 Tips for Rowers Starting a Strength Training Program

Starting a strength training program doesn’t have to be complicated. These 7 tips will help you understand where to focus your time and energy.

1. Start slow. If it’s been a while since you’ve been doing strength workouts use the first couple training sessions to set new bench marks and understand what your body’s capabilities are. Modify movements if necessary. Body weight exercises and dumbbells provide plenty of resistance for the novice lifter. More advanced athletes will enjoy the challenges of barbell work and complex movements.

Snails are notoriously slow (it's a metaphor).

2. Start simple. Choose exercises that are easily executable. You don’t need to do the latest viral Instagram exercises to get strong for rowing. Most of the trendy stuff you see on social media won’t do much for your rowing. Simple movements like squatting and dead lifting will yield better results than anything else.

3. Failure is not an option. Don’t worry about going to muscle failure. Going to failure can be fun and gratifying but it’s not an important part of a rowing-specific strength program. Stick with rep ranges between 5 and 15. Avoiding going to failure doesn’t mean avoiding hard work. Push yourself to 85-90% or your capabilities in specific lifts during your working sets.

Don't be this guy.

4. Micro Dose (not drugs). Be strategic about how you incorporate strength training into your rowing routine. If you’ve got a lot of time built into your schedule for cross training that’s great. If not, slowly incorporate strength movements into your routine. Do sets of squats after a long easier row. Avoid doing heavier lifting on higher intensity rowing days.

5. Make Incremental Progress. Technique in the weight room is important but worrying too much about technique can be a barrier to showing up. The single most important thing to do when beginning a weight program is don’t do too much too fast. Slowly increase the load you’re lifting over time. As little as 1 lb per week. Our bodies adapt well to small changes.

6. Recover well. This is an often overlooked element of sport training. When you increase intensity and/or add to your training routines you need to make adjustments in your recovery. You may need more sleep after your first couple days in the weight room. Drink water, eat enough, and move frequently throughout the day to ensure you’re getting the most out of your training sessions.

Turns out sleep is good for you.

7. Have fun. Strength training should be an enjoyable aspect of your rowing training. It will help you perform better on the water and increase your longevity in the sport. View the weight room as a place where you can continue to challenge yourself and make improvements.


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