When Eddie Hall was asked why he deadlifted 500kg, he famously replied, “You’ve got to push the boundaries to be the best.”
We’re not suggesting rowers aim to replicate this herculean task – that would be a very different article — but it’s time rowers look at the barbell in the corner of the gym with the same can-do attitude towards getting out of their comfort zone.
Here is the Dark Horse insight on the dos and don’ts of weights workouts for rowers.
WHY ARE WEIGHTS WORKOUTS BENEFICIAL FOR ROWERS? WHAT DO THESE TYPES OF WORKOUTS IMPROVE?
Most importantly weights workouts help to promote muscular motor recruitment development that stand alone rowing does not. Secondly rowing is a constrained movement that alone doesn’t expand the athlete’s force production or skill set needed to improve rowing.
Weights workouts can fall into the category of plyometrics or neuromuscular training. These kinds of programs have demonstrated excellent results which include decreased injury rates, improvements in speed and agility, and improved vertical jump, all huge properties of a well rounded rower and athlete.
HOW CAN A ROWER START TO INCORPORATE WEIGHTLIFTING WORKOUTS INTO THEIR PLAN?
For maximum results, try integrating weights in a few sessions a month and focus on form and technique. The more comfortable you get and the more your body learns this new style of training the more frequently you can add to your plan. All the major weights movements can be performed with either bodyweight or a PVC pipe option before moving onto weighted versions. This way sessions can be kept precise and short and if at any point you begin to feel your form falter, you call it a day.
Compound movements such as the squat, deadlift and olympic clean all work to develop skill, technique, and force. They need to be performed with good, explosive form.
Plyometrics routines are also great because they don’t have to be done frequently or for a long duration. You can incorporate plyometrics such as box jumps or skipping, two to three times weekly for five to 10 minutes.
SHOULD WEIGHTS BE INCORPORATED INTO A ROW SESSION, OR ARE THEY A STANDALONE WORKOUT?
We absolutely think weights can be incorporated into a row session. This is a fun way to work on skill development and still get an efficient row in. As I mentioned before, plyometrics, such as burpees, does not need to be done at a high frequency or very often. Throw these into an interval style session and watch what happens to your fitness over 6 weeks.
If you have weights at home along with your erg, you could row a little first to warm up, perform ten to twenty minutes of various weights exercises, then row your main sessions and still be done in an hour.
WHERE CAN I GO IF I WANT TO ADD A STRUCTURED STRENGTH PLAN TO MY ROWING WORKOUTS?
Look no further than the Strength and Rowing plan in our Crew program. It was purpose-written to develop your 2km row (the gold standard of on the water and indoor rowing), and has been tried and tested by those from purely rowing and also purely lifting backgrounds. It does exactly what it says it does and gets you fitter and stronger at the same time.
Yours in fitness education and strength training.