T Nation

Lifting Program for Rowing

Hey guys,

Long time lurker, first-time poster.

I was looking for a little input on my training program.

If my name didn’t give it away, I am a rower, currently training for next summer’s Elite Nationals.

I have dabbled in lifting all through my rowing career, but in the rowing community it’s hotly debated as to whether the increases in strength in rowing have any direct effect on boat speed.

I tend to believe that the extra horsepower can’t hurt, and if anything I’d like to prove all the people who say that the only way to train for crew is to row, wrong.

Currently, I’ve been dabbling with a lot of Chad Waterbury’s programs, specifically, right now I’m on his “anti-bodybuilding” program. Great stuff. I am also interested in giving Mr. Robertson’s “Designer Athletes” program a try.

Here is my question:

Rowing is a very cardio-intensive sport. The particular demands of racing imply that one has to put in a lot of miles if one wants to go fast. Right now, I am logging 12 workouts a week, Basically one in the morning, one at night.

My split goes something like this:

Monday:
A.M. - Lifting session
P.M. - Long distance row (15K)

Tues
A.M. - Lift or row (depending if I have to lift based on Chad’s workout schedule)
P.M - 8x 500m sprint intervals, 20 minutes of stadiums

Wed
A.M. - Lift or long row
P.M. - Long Row

Thurs.
A.M. - Lift or row (see Tues)
P.M. - 4 x 2000m intervals

Fri.
A.M. - 10K row (at sub race pace usually 80-85% of HRMax)
P.M. - Long row

Sat.
A.M. Long row
P.M. Long row

Total meters per week: around 120K will build up to around 150-160K.

Would love input on a lifting program. Like I said right now I am following Chad Waterbury’s “Anti Bodybuilding Program” to the “T”.

Stats: 6"4", 240lbs.,(bf 11% as of 9/1/04) would like to be at 220lb. racing weight by mid. Jan.

eating around 4500 cals a day, losing about a lb. a week. Heavy on the low-glycemic complex carbs and protein, have a high-glycemic carb immediately post workout, and keep the fats as low as possible. Would ideally like to be as lean as possible at 220 for racing season (late March - end of July), however, doesn’t having too low a body fat percentage screw with your endurance?

Am I overtraining? Am I eating enough? I wonder what non-rowers think of this schedule… This is pretty standard schedule for an elite-level aspirant.

Any input would be most appreciated.

I want to be as fast as possible, dammit!!

Thanks in advance,

the hungry oarsman.

Find yourself a knowledgeable coach. The number of us who’ve rowed (me), and are qualified to manipulate your training in detail (not me), are few and far between.

A few general comments:

-BF percentage doesn’t impact endurance; it’s the carb-cutting to get the low BF that wears people out.

-There’s no benefit to losing weight at your height, unless it improves your time. More likely it’ll go the other way. You don’t have a great deal of fat; what are you trying to lose?

-I can’t tell you if you’re overtraining, but the stopwatch will, and you’ll feel like shit.

What’s your best 2K time (on the erg) as of now?

DI

OARSMAN:

Welcome to the finest muscle building site on the internet!

I recently purchased a Concept 2 rowing machine. I have never done any rowing of any kind in my life. The first time that I sat on the machine I rowed 500 meters about 2:30.

I realize that this is simply a sprint compared to what you do. I also realize that someone who takes this seriously can blow that time away. However, I was told that since this was the very first time that I ever attempted this that my time was pretty darn good. (I am in my late 40’s by the way)

I attribute this to two things: The first of which is that I have not been out of aerobic condition in over 25 years. Biking, sprinting, circut training etc.

The second reason, and I think this is the one that may help you. I have always done Pull-ups and Chin-ups. (Oh no here goes Zeb again talking about Pull-ups, haha). They are such a complete upper body movement that I am sure you would add a great deal to your rowing if you included them in your routine.

Seriously, when I first pulled on the handle of the Concept 2 rower it was incredibly light compared to pulling my 187lb. body up and down the Chin-up bar. This gave me incredible confidence. I sometimes train up to 200 Pull-ups in one session (have gone over that on several occasions). While I am sure my technique was horrible on the rower, my endurance strength was good because of the way I train.

My suggestion is to include Pull-ups in your routine. If you would like me to write you a Pull-up program just PM me and I will be happy to help you out.

I would think that your caloric intake should include a great deal of high quality protein. Perhaps 240 Grams per day, or so, based upon your size and the way you train.

Otherwise, good luck with your sport. I can’t imagine keeping up that 500 meter pace for 2000 meters. Now that I think of it…I am going to have to try that…

Take care,

Zeb

[quote]KnightRT wrote:
Find yourself a knowledgeable coach. The number of us who’ve rowed (me), and are qualified to manipulate your training in detail (not me), are few and far between.[/quote]

Yeah, I’m thinking of doing that… the problem is that there aren’t that many down here in Florida. Will have to look into some kind of e-coaching arrangement.

A few general comments:

[quote]
-BF percentage doesn’t impact endurance; it’s the carb-cutting to get the low BF that wears people out.[/quote]

got it. thanks for the clarification.

[quote]
-There’s no benefit to losing weight at your height, unless it improves your time.[/quote]

yeah, that’s pretty much. In rowing there seems to be a point of diminishing returns at 6’4" anything over 225 only serves to slow you down. If I were 6’8" or something then 240 is a good weight, but I’m not, so I have to go down. I used to race at 220 but my b.f. was around where it is now. (I took a 4 year hiatus from racing for grad school, and really got into lifting during that time)…Obviously, I’ve been reading too much T-mag, and I’ve put on alot of muscle, but I got the itch to race again, so here I am.

[quote]
More likely it’ll go the other way. You don’t have a great deal of fat; what are you trying to lose? [/quote]

looks like I am going to have to sacrifice a little muscle to go along with the fat loss.

[quote]
-I can’t tell you if you’re overtraining, but the stopwatch will, and you’ll feel like shit. [/quote]

I guess I’m not if that’s the criteria… it’s weird tho, because I always read the “quality over quantity” arguments here on T-Mag so I figured I’d ask.

[quote]
What’s your best 2K time (on the erg) as of now?[/quote]

6:28.2 as of 9/12/04 ( I test myself the second weekend of every month…have been on the “comeback trail” for about 3 months now. All time PB is 6:11.8 (when I weighed around 215 and no where near as strong as I am now…). I think I can go sub 6:00 by the end of next year.

Thanks for your replies!

-oarsman

[quote]ZEB wrote:
OARSMAN:

Welcome to the finest muscle building site on the internet![/quote]

Thanks!

[quote]
I recently purchased a Concept 2 rowing machine. [/quote]

Without a doubt the best cardio machine on the planet.

[quote]
I have never done any rowing of any kind in my life.[/quote]

In that case, you should definitely check out the Concept 2 forums - make sure your technique is on point. Good, EFFICIENT, technique = extra speed. I highly recommend low stroke/minute STRAPLESS rowing. Does wonders for your power and really cleans up your technique. We chat about it more off-forum if you’d like.

[quote]
The first time that I sat on the machine I rowed 500 meters about 2:30.[/quote]

I wonder if “what’s your erg score” is the rowing equivalent of “what’s your bench?” In sum, who cares?? Keep rowing and your scores will come down. We all start somewhere.

[quote]
I realize that this is simply a sprint compared to what you do. I also realize that someone who takes this seriously can blow that time away. However, I was told that since this was the very first time that I ever attempted this that my time was pretty darn good. (I am in my late 40’s by the way)[/quote]

Like I said, rowing like lifting rewards hard, consistent, effort. Keep doing it and you will get faster. And yes, it is a pretty good time for a newb!

[quote]
I attribute this to two things: The first of which is that I have not been out of aerobic condition in over 25 years. Biking, sprinting, circut training etc. [/quote]

Definitely… a majority of rowers come to the sport after getting pummelled in other sports, but still want competition and obscenely hard training without the nasty impact on the joints you get from land sports.

[quote]
The second reason, and I think this is the one that may help you. I have always done Pull-ups and Chin-ups. (Oh no here goes Zeb again talking about Pull-ups, haha). They are such a complete upper body movement that I am sure you would add a great deal to your rowing if you included them in your routine. [/quote]

I would love to peep your Pull Up routine- that would be awesome… drop me an email at [Not allowed on Forum. Use PM. - MOD]

[quote]
Seriously, when I first pulled on the handle of the Concept 2 rower it was incredibly light compared to pulling my 187lb. body up and down the Chin-up bar. [/quote]

Say that after pulling a hard 15K strapless at low drag (1-3 on the erg fan)!! LOL

[quote]
I would think that your caloric intake should include a great deal of high quality protein. Perhaps 240 Grams per day, or so, based upon your size and the way you train.[/quote]

I’m over 300g/day for sure…

[quote]
Otherwise, good luck with your sport. I can’t imagine keeping up that 500 meter pace for 2000 meters. Now that I think of it…I am going to have to try that…[/quote]

I’m telling you, if you’re willing to put in the work… you will be fast on the erg (or in the boat) - it’s just a matter of desire, really… kind of like anything worth doing in life, if you think about it…

Thanks for the advice Zeb, and am looking forward to reading your Pull-Up routine.

The Oarsman

OARSMAN:

Your Pull-up routine has been PM’d to you.

Best Of Luck with your training,

Zeb

OARSMAN: have you checked out the Concept 2 training manual? It’s got the lifting routine used by Pinsent, Cracknell et al. in it. Might be worth a look; it certainly works for them!

Purely by coincidence, I was rifling through the best times for open-class men at a recent erg sprinting championship. The winning time was a foreign guy, 6’4", and about 250 lbs.

The fastest rower on my team was also 6’4", but only about 215, with a 6:03 through 2000 meters.

Interesting, that. If you do well at the lower weight, so be it. Never hurts to set the boat a little higher.

DI

[quote]KnightRT wrote:
Purely by coincidence, I was rifling through the best times for open-class men at a recent erg sprinting championship. The winning time was a foreign guy, 6’4", and about 250 lbs. [/quote]

I can see a guy that big having a monster 500m time… but a monster 2k time? He must be a CV freak… that’s just too much weight to carry around… even for indoor racing.

[quote]
The fastest rower on my team was also 6’4", but only about 215, with a 6:03 through 2000 meters.

Interesting, that. If you do well at the lower weight, so be it. Never hurts to set the boat a little higher.[/quote]

I’m kind of curious to see what I pull once I get down to 220 - however using the stuff I’ve learned over the years from reading this site - my bf will be well into the single digits, and I will be much stronger. It’s really encouraging and keeps me more than motivated.

I think the weight issue is more for the on-water racing rather than erg racing. The extra weight is penalized, just because, as you said, the boat sits lower in the water, essentially negating any extra power a heavier oarsman would be able to generate.

[quote]Grey Area wrote:
OARSMAN: have you checked out the Concept 2 training manual? It’s got the lifting routine used by Pinsent, Cracknell et al. in it. Might be worth a look; it certainly works for them![/quote]

Yeah, I’ve seen it. But that’s a lot like the “competition” programs Arnold put in his “Encyclopedia” - that amount of volume is ridiculous.

My question to you is this: How much faster could that British 4 be if they read T-Mag? Personally, I think they overtrain, but hey what do I know… like you said, you can’t argue with their results. (Actually you can, they won the gold by a hair - following a serious of disappointing results during the 2004 World Cup. )

I thought someone may say that. Obviously, I’m not sure what the correct answer is (if I was, I’d be making barrels of money training the strongest athletes in the world!). However, I’m of the opinion that the training they does works extremely well for rowing. Just because it differs from what the bodybuilding world currently believes to be the most effective methods doesn’t mean that it’s wrong… “new, better” methods come and go.

I’m not saying that what T-nation says is wrong, per se, but rather that the lifting programme they utilise is very effective for rowers.

If, on the other hand, they are overtraining (was this in reference to the 15+ times a week training schedule, the volume of work in the weights sessions, or both?) and could be training more effectively, then I’m scared of what Pinsent could achieve! He’s already got 4 Olympic golds and 5.42 2km!

Good luck with getting sub 6 mins… that’d be a very impressive result!

Hey Oarsman,

Some thoughts I have,

As Zeb said, chins.

Tabata method may be able a help to some degree, experiment with exercises, squat thrusts and jumpt to a chin - up bar, power cleans, power snatches, high pull with clean or snatch grip.

O-lifting in general would benefit too for that matter.

So would deadlifting when you are on a 4 inch platform, greater range of motion. For this exercise I would focus more On generating starting strength (55-65%) and/or explosive strength(30-40%) of 1RM, Focus on bar speed. I did about an 8 week focus on this and added 30 lbs at least to my previous 1 RM on my dead (the only exercise I tested).

I also think barbell Hack squats would be a great exercise for you.

Of course all of this is going from my experience long ago on a machine and from envisioning rowing now.

Add in weighted (sledge hammer work and sled drags) and non-weighted GPP and I think you will find things good.

Peace,
T-Ren

I don’t think there’s much place for sled dragging, etc. in rowing training, except maybe for a bit of variety in the off season. When you’re already training multiples times every day, there’s no need to introduce extra work.

Hey Grey,

That could be but, don’t over look active recovery, sled dragging is great for active recovery and if he does sled dragging for the upper body he can add variety to rowing motions in that it is multiplanar compared to barbell rowing.

Again just some thoughts.

T-Ren

Oarsman,

Good numbers. I rowed lightweight for a couple years in college, but I was never quite that good.

What kind of strength are you trying to develop by lifting?

I imagine it could be a topic of debate in the rowing community as to whether lifting is necessary to produce good rowers, but I can’t imagine that it’s even a question whether an increased 1RM could make you a better rower - how could it?

I’m no S+C coach, but if I was focusing solely on being a better rower, I would restrict non-rowing exercise to routines designed to produce strength-endurance and anaerobic and aerobic excellence - high-rep o-lifts, squats, and KB lifts, running, erging, jumping, pull-ups, etcetera, all mixed up together in circuits.

Just my two cents,

Ross Hunt

Hmmm… Ross Hunt said what I was trying to say! Rowing isn’t about maximal strength or gaining as much muscle as possible, so high rep work may be more appropriate than the methods on this site.

Oarsman,

Here’s a link to the Concept 2 Training Guide v. 2. http://sports.tjhsst.edu/crew/newsite/offseason/docs/training_guide_v2.pdf Maybe you already have access to this, but it was news to me.

There are quite a number of lifting programs in it that were designed by prominent international coaches specifically for rowing. They seem to combine high rep work with what we here call GPP. They appear to be well-thought out and much more sport-specific than any programs I have seen elsewhere.

Porkchop