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Rowers: Strength Training


What are strength training exercises I can do with an elite rower who is trying to build a lot of mass in his legs? I would love to hear sport specific ideas as well as strength training exercises in general.


Strength and conditioning for elite rowers needs to be specific. Most people in this sport tend to overtrain much like swimmers, so keeping "extra"stress to a minimum will help prevent overtraining syndrome. To be as specific as possible a few questions need to be asked: Is your client a light weight or heavy weight and does he compete in the individual or team events?

The main question of building leg mass would indicate that he is a heavy weight, so we do not need to be concerned with making weight. The reason this is mentioned is muscle hypertrophy or muscle mass equals increased body weight and the training approach is different for an athlete trying to keep overall body weight down and still improve strength.

The overall resistance training plan, for anyone elite, needs to be based around a periodized training program. This system of conditioning takes into consideration many variables, one of which is muscle hypertrophy. Most theories on increasing muscle hypertrophy suggest training with loads that produce 8-12 Repetition Maximum (RM). This means that the weight should not be so heavy that 8 reps can not be completed, but heavy enough that 12 reps is max. The volume of work can be manipulated depending on how fatigued he is when lifting, but 3-6 sets should do it. The number and type of exercises can vary between training days. Training between 2-3 days pr.week should be sufficient without over stressing him. Here are a few suggestions;