As someone who enjoys working out, I never thought I would ever follow a program designed specifically for rowing. I’m not someone who hates endurance work, I just rather do it as part of a more dynamic workout. However, after giving it some thought, I figured why not try it out. I noticed the benefits of following other specific programs geared toward Olympic weightlifting and strength, so why not see what a rowing program can do so I can at least have an opinion on it.
In doing so I can say I actually enjoyed it. Most importantly, I was surprised how it didn’t take long to begin realizing the benefits of applying rowing to my overall training.
Here are a few things I noticed after doing my first full 8-week cycle:
1. Greater Aerobic Capacity
As would be expected with an endurance program, this is something I noticed fairly early on. However, it was different than what you feel when you happen to do a lot of running or other cardio-based work. It was an increase in capacity that didn’t allow me to lose my strength.
I had good aerobic capacity, to begin with. I run periodically and have good metabolic conditioning rather than pure strength, but my ability to ramp things up during traditional met-con or other CrossFit WOD increased noticeably.
2. Stronger Posterior Chain
This is probably my favorite thing I noticed as a result of following a rowing program. The cycle I worked through was focused on improving your 2k. So there was a variety of workouts including several that went well above 2k and incorporated different levels of intensity I had not done before on the rowing machine.
As a result, I noticed by posterior chain become much stronger. This was beneficial because I was able to do it without having to do all heavy strength work to achieve it. And, I was able to translate this area of improvement to other movements such as a clean, deadlift, or snatch.
Additionally, I noticed a similar pattern of strength acquired in my hips. Even though the hips are only 30% of your stroke when rowing, after going through an entire 8-week cycle, your hips are able to obtain a resistance through intensity over time. This too, was great because I could achieve it without the strenuous application of pure weight training and it transferred to everything else, including lifts that require explosive hip action.
3. Better Recovery
The third thing I noticed when working through my 8-week cycle was better recovery from my other workouts. The 8-week cycle was only twice a week, so it fit perfectly into my regular training schedule. Because it offered a new aspect to my training, which previously only included a strength program and a mix of conditioning, it allowed me to flush out any built up muscle strain. Don’t get me wrong, a good rowing workout can make you feel more exhausted than you would think the next day. But I was never sore the way you might be after with no rowing at all. Instead, my body and muscles were able to get warmed up much easier for action the next day.
These are just 3 things I noticed as a result of following an 8-week program. There are likely many others you may notice depending on where you are in your own fitness journey and current regimen. But, if you’re somewhat like me who doesn’t want to run every day or become an endurance freak, yet still want the benefits, I’ve found rowing to be that perfect medium.
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