Hey Guys…

Been a while since I’ve posted here but wouldn’t mind some help…

I joined a rowing club in my town and it’s the only one close enough to my home that I can get out for the 4 days a week I need to pratice with the Masters Team.

The club isn’t hugely competitive and most of the guys are 35-50 years old (I’m 28) and just come to row and for the social aspect… I don’t mind this for now… infact my technique has improved greatly rowing with these guys… I want to join a club next year that is more competitive but feel I need more size/strength to be considered… most of the coaches at my current club are just coaching rec and highschool teams and can’t really come up with a decent weightlifting program for the on and off seasons… like I said most of them just row in the summer and row on a machine in the winter… that’s it…

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think I’ll ever get to the Olympics but I watch the guys in the men’s 8 in Athens and think they are huge… anything I can do to get a bit of size on me which will also benfit my rowing?

Thanks in advance.

I don’t know much about rowing, but I would say definately get your back stronger

I used to row when I was younger (does that make me sound old??) and mostly we did lots of running and rowing.

Weight training was not a major part, but we did mainly deadlifts, good mornings and bent over rows (suprisingly :o) ). Other exercises were done, but mainly the previous 3.

Hope that this helps.

I just finished up rowing in college back in May and am going to start coaching while at law school. I would have to say that gaining size is not necessarily the best thing to do. While overall gains muscle strength and endurance will help, added muscle weight can have the effect of slowing you down ie making the boat heavier. This isnt as drastic as it would be in distance running since since youre floating on the water. If you want to be able to compete with a good club program you need to get your butt on an erg. Rowing is aerobic sport and you need to spend hours erging.

Hey Big Smoke,

I honestly don’t know about rowing that much. Unless you count the rowing machine at the gym. But I do notice that in alot of sports size does not matter in some it’s technique.

Watching the olympics I have not seen any rower that had a large amount of muscle.They do have strength and endurance.

I remember when I was a young lad (35 now) and watching an amateur boxing match. This flabby heavyweight came in against a solid brick motha fu…you know what I mean. As a kid I said that muscular guy is going win. Man was I ever wrong, the flabby guy outboxed the more muscular man using technique, beating the crap out of the muscley guy.

I know you’re saying “Sancho that is boxing, not rowing”. Well yes but, I’m trying to prove a point. Size only matters in certain sports maybe a lineman (football) or in Rugby then pick and choose others.

Strength on the other hand can’t hurt so maybe like the posts above work on strength based programs and endurance.

Then again Big Smoke you could start a rowing trend where rowers have strength, stamina, and size. Good luck!!


In terms of weight room training for rowing you need to establish what you are trying to achieve. As has been mentioned rowing is a highly aerobic sport and rowers take a large number of strokes in training so in my opinion the weight room should not be used to work on muscular endurance directly (as most rowers’ programmes do). Instead rowers should look to bring up their strength and power for three main reasons. Firstly the start and finish of the race are highly anaerobic and improved power output here can make a large difference to the result. Secondly improved strength will make each individual stroke more powerful and increased strength should improve muscular endurance due to the relationship between absolute strength and muscular endurance at a fixed load. Finally improved strength will allow rowers to hold more efficient positions when rowing, especially when fatigued.

In my opinion, core lifts for rowers include cleans and jerks, full depth olympic squatting, core work, lower back work and upper body pulling movements. Of course it is important to train other movements to build a balanced physique and prevent injury.