1. Mileage Is Not Always the Answer
Lots of rowers believe that just like the world of cycling, spending all of their training time doing miles and miles of lower intensity cycling is the key to unlocking huge PR’s. Not true. We are learning that high intensity training is just as important as the long slogs – and that it’s necessary train all of the fitness zones, everything from base endurance to sprint. And for us rowers with a much shorter 2k race distance (20 – 30 % of which is anaerobic) what does that say about the emphases we should put on our training?
2. It’s Not About The Boat (or Erg)
Jason Kahlipa speaks a lot about fighting the good fight and how he attributes most of his success with his ability to persevere and overcome. 99% of the rowers I have worked with have these qualities. But it’s easy to forget that this is what makes us different. Embrace the challenge the daily grind presents and relish the fact that you are in the minority of the people on the planet who are capable of enduring such hardship as a 2k erg test.
3. Train With Power
Louie Simmons (Founder of Westside Barbell & living legend in the powerlifting world) has often been quoted “Intensity trumps volume EVERY TIME.” Want further proof? Look at his conjugate training system and you’ll see exactly what is meant here.
Ok I hear you say – us rowers already use power (in terms of split per 500) on the erg. But there is a big difference in rowing for power and having raw power for real life. The carry over from rowing to real world – pretty slim. But it shouldn’t be.
4. Realize You Have a Training Type
Sprint or marathon? Fast twitch or slow twitch? Erg or Water? When CrossFit was invented the mantra of constantly varied training was something only Olympic decathletes were really considering. When it comes to rowing, the reality is you are going to be suited to a certain distance and event.
Luckily for us there are a few options in the rowing world.
The sprinters and endurance animals all rough it out in the high lactic producing sprint events like the 500m & 1km. Those endurance animals will gravitate more towards the 5km & 10km events, and then those that are that rare breed of aerobic threshold beasts will always perform well at the gold standsard 2km event. Like all sports, most high level rowers choose events suited to their natural abilities.
*note, yes we know there are those mad individuals that also happily row marathons and 100km events, but we’re just going to ignore that crazy bunch!
5. Legs Legs Legs and…
Ok you get the idea. Sometimes it’s easy to forget in the jungle of information thrown upon ergers and rowers that the legs are the primary source of power in the rowing stroke.
In CrossFit, the importance of the lower body and posterior chain is emphasized more than most other fitness regimens, which tend to focus more on the way muscles look than the way they should function or where you get your power from. And who doesn’t want sexy, rippling biceps? But building your biceps will only get you so far – in rowing, in weightlifting, in running… you get the idea.
6. Get Set Up Right
Gymnasts are smart when it comes to mechanics. Then again they needs to be. From efficiency to optimum power position every last millimeter is measured and adjusted. Not only can we glean this from gymnasts, but we can learn from the CrossFit training pillar of “core to extremity” movement.
For speed, efficiency and comfort.
Things like proper erg footplate position can make a big difference to our efficiency and power output. But don’t take my word for it. Try it.
Weightlifters had recovery from lifting and training sussed years ago. Ever since the first big lifting events, they were on the money with recovery. Rowing and other endurance sports are only catching up now. Regardless of this there are so many things that you can do from simple stretching routines like ROMWOD, to more high-tech devices like the Powerdot. The reality remains, recovery is something you have to consider to give you longevity in this sport.