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eeping Fit

Better Rowing Through Strength Training

© Wayne L. Westcott PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by Wayne L. Westcott PhD. View all columns in series

All of the strength exercises should be performed 2 of 3 days per week, typically in a total body workout that can be completed in less than 30 minutes. One properly performed set of each exercise should be sufficient, with approximately one minute recovery time between successive exercises. Proper exercise performance is characterized by full movement range and slow movement speed on every repetition. I suggest taking about 6 seconds for each repetition, with 2 seconds for the more challenging lifting movement and 4 seconds for the otherwise less challenging lowering movement. Use enough resistance to fatigue the target muscles within the anaerobic energy system, generally during a range of 50 to 70 seconds. At 6 seconds per repetition, this corresponds to about 8 to 12 good repetitions per exercise set. Whenever you can complete 12 repetitions in proper form, you should increase the weightload by approximately 5 percent (or less). For most exercises, this requires adding 2 to 10 pounds, which will of course reduce the number of repetitions that you can perform, accordingly. Train with the higher resistance until you can again complete 12 repetitions, then add an appropriate amount of weight to your next workout. Keep careful records of all your training sessions for purposes of progression and motivation.

Table 1. Recommended strength exercises and training order for increased rowing/paddling power.

Muscle Group
Rowing Relevance
Leg extension Quadriceps Power production
Leg curl Hamstrings Power production
Leg press Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals Power production
Super pullover Latissimus dorsi, teres major Arm pull
Compound row Latissimus dorsi, teres major, biceps, upper trapezius, middle trapezius, rhomboids Arm pull
Biceps curl Biceps
Chest press Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps Joint integrity
Shoulder press Anterior deltoids, middle deltoids, triceps Joint integrity
Triceps extension Triceps Joint integrity
Low back Erector spinae Force transfer
Abdominal Rectus abdominis Force transfer
Rotary torso Internal obliques, external obliques Force transfer
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About The Author
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and......more
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