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Summer Gains: Setting Youth Rowers up for Fall Regattas

Put your phone down for a couple hours each day and maintain those hard-earned gains from spring season. For youth rowers summer time is a golden opportunity to elevate your rowing. The spring “season” is long and arduous. By the time Youth Championships wrap up most athletes have been training consistently for almost 5 months. Summer is a time for much needed recovery but it is also an opportunity to make improvements in strength, endurance, and rowing technique.

Get stronger

The spring racing season emphasizes time in the boat. By the time competition season rolls around most crews have moved away from serious strength training. Summer is an excellent time to get in the weight room and build or rebuild strength. Being strong is integral to performing at a high level in rowing. Emphasizing squatting and deadlifting will yield results that translate to faster boats. Learn more about starting a strength program.

Go far

Summer is an excellent time to continue building endurance. Cross training helps keep things interesting and expands athlete’s abilities to understand pacing, pushing physical limits, and different motor patterns. Aerobic capacity can be built by rowing or other activities. Cycling, running, swimming, and hiking are all great options. Rowing requires an enormous aerobic capacity which underlies all your training and racing.

Improve technique

Improving your rowing stroke is hugely important in gaining speed. If you spend a lot of time in large team boats find an opportunity to get into sculling boats. Spend hours doing technical work. There’s no substitute for understanding how a boat moves and feels. One of the benefits of technical work is that it tends to be lower intensity. I’ve seen many smaller athletes with technical prowess outperform larger teammates. It may not be sexy but lots of time drilling and fine tuning your stroke will pay dividends when head racing season starts.


Do something everyday. It’s painfully obvious to coaches which athletes maintained their fitness over the summer. Strength train 2-3x per week and perform aerobic training sessions 2-3x per week. Get out on the water as much as possible.

Strike a balance

Always try to strike a balance with your training. Train too hard over the summer and you’ll end up at a higher risk of injury once the fall season starts. Train too little over the summer and you’ll be playing catch up when you return to the boathouse.

Be honest with yourself.

Everyone has things they need to work on. As an athlete where do you need to improve the most? Are you already big and strong relative to your peers? Spend time building your aerobic capacity and becoming more technically proficient. Are you more aerobically inclined? Get into the weight room this summer. Work on improving in all areas but focus on your weaknesses. That will give you the biggest boost in the fall.

The fastest athletes next year will be the ones who prioritize recovering from the spring racing season, lift weights 2-3x per week, engage in cross training, and find opportunities to improve their technical skills on the water. Surprise yourself, your teammates, and your coaches next fall.


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