I was recently scrolling through my Instagram when I noticed a post from Conor McGregor (@conormcgregorfast) that caught my attention. Not because of his tattoos or championship belts, but because the mixed martial artist was using the Concept2 indoor rower in his training.
Now, it’s clear the machine has become more mainstream these days. With its appearance in CrossFit as well in the training of many professional athletes, it’s evident the machine is more than just a tool for off-season water rowers. As you might already know, the Concept2 works 86% of the bodies muscles and it’s low impact and easy on the joints. This not only makes it a perfect tool for a high impact MMA fighter. But, mixed martial artists and fighters alike can use the rower to build both conditioning and strength at the same time. Here we will cover three examples.
An important thing to note is that MMA fighters battle through a slew of injuries regularly in their training. If you’re a fighter, you probably know how valuable it is to have a tool available to help you keep up your strength and conditioning even while hurt. In addition, the low impact and the ability to work at different paces can also help in the recovery from more serious injuries where an athlete is working their way back into regular training.
A big obstacle MMA fighters have to overcome is making weight for a fight. Some fighters will lose over 20 pounds to make weight. This is extremely difficult on its own. At the same time, they are trying to keep up their strength and conditioning. Not to mention the actual physical beating their bodies take in the octagon. With a proper rowing program, one can burn more calories, improve cardio, and still obtain their strength.
Believe it or not, the rowing machine is very beneficial when it comes to this area. The condensing and exploding motion on the erg heavily represents the essential ground game in a fight. It also uses more muscles than you would on a stationary bike and without the impact of running sprints. This is also a great strength builder for the legs, wrists, and forearms. All very important to a fighter.
Interval training with the indoor rower can also be used to mimic the conditions an MMA fighter faces in an actual match. By building the endurance for a regular match of 3 five-minute rounds or 5 five-minute rounds for a title fight, the athlete can rehearse getting comfortable being uncomfortable without risk of injury or conducting an actual fight. An example rowing workout is: 5×3 mins on 1 minute off or 6×500 with 2 mins off. The workouts are endless. You could cater it to exactly what your athlete needs.
An example rowing workout for this situation might be 5×3 minutes on, 1 minute off or 6×500 with 2 minutes off. Some workouts could even include a 30-60 minute row at 18 strokes per minute, working at the lower stroke rate where powerful slow strokes will almost feel like you’re squatting with no risk to your knees or back. With some creativity, the workouts possibilities are endless and you can cater exactly to what your athlete needs.
So, whether you like McGregor or not, if you’re looking to add a new dynamic to your training as a fighter, the rowing machine is highly worth considering. If being able to develop your anaerobic threshold in a low impact way isn’t enough, the machine can also be used to recover from injury, cut weight, and simulate many aspects of a fight in an effective way.