Healthy eating and proper hydration can help a rower perform at her best. Rowers need to follow the same dietary guidelines as the general population to stay healthy. They may also need a few extra calories, and more carbohydrates and protein because of their active lifestyles. Rowers who eat a well-balanced diet should not need dietary supplements.
Calories are energy for the body. Rowers need more calories than most people because of their high activity level. Calorie requirements for rowers are based on age, gender, size and intensity of activity. Male rowers generally need more calories than female rowers and rowers between the ages of 14 and 49 will require more calories than children or adults over age 50. Highly competitive rowers need more calories due to intense training and competition schedules. For example, according to MyPyramid.gov, a moderately active 31-year-old female needs about 2,000 calories, whereas a highly active 31-year-old male needs 3,000 calories.
The best sources of calories are fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and whole grains because they have the most vitamins and minerals. Foods high in fat, added sugar and sodium are highly caloric but lack essential nutrients.
The most important macronutrients for rowers are carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are an athlete's primary source of fuel for muscles. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) says rowers who train for less than 90 minutes a day or do low-intensity workouts need 5 to 7 g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight. Rowers who train for 90 to 120 minutes a day need 7 to 10g/kg of carbohydrate and professional athletes who exercise for 6 to 8 hours a day may need 10 or more g/kg of carbohydrate per day. Health carbohydrate foods include fruit, 100 percent fruit juice, whole grains, starchy vegetables and low-fat milk.
Protein requirements are 1g/kg for light training and 1.2-1.7g/kg for moderate to intense training. Healthy proteins are lean like chicken, eggs, soy, beans, legumes, nuts, fish and lean meat.
Fat is also a macronutrient but is not as concerning as carbohydrates and protein. Federal dietary guidelines recommend diets that are low in fat because fat contributes to heart disease and other chronic diseases when eaten in excess.
Dehydration can affect performance and lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses. The American Council on Exercise says athletes participating in intense physical activities should drink 17 to 20 oz. of water two to three hours prior to an activity, 8 to 10 oz. of fluid during warm-up activities, 7 to 10 oz. of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during an activity and 8 oz. of fluid within 30 minutes of completing an activity. The most accurate way to determine how much to drink after a rowing session is to take pre- and post-workout weights and drink 16 to 24 oz. of fluid for every pound that is lost. Water is the best fluid to meet hydration needs but rowers that are active for longer than 60 minutes many benefit from sports beverages to replace the loss of electrolytes like sodium.
Pre- and Post-Workout Meals
Healthy pre- and post-workout meals give rowers the energy they need to sustain their activities. The ASC says pre-workout meals should include carbohydrates and be consumed two to three hours before an activity. Post-workout meals, especially after an intense training session or long race, should include carbohydrates and protein. Snacks that combine protein and carbohydrate include soy milk and fruit smoothies, yogurt with fruit and granola, peanut butter sandwich, apples with cheese, turkey wrap or chocolate milk with a whole wheat bagel.
Flexibility and Stretching
Hamstrings (alternate stretch)
Iliotibial Band, Lateral Hip, & Lumbar Paraspinals
Psoas (hip flexors)
Thoracic, Lumbar Paraspinals, Lateral Rotators of the Hip, and Ribs
Gastrocnemius, Soleus, & Achilles Tendon Stretch
Posterior Rotator Cuff and Capsule
What is stretching good for?
1. Keeps muscles supple
2. Prepares you for movement
3. Helps to reduce strain when you are active
4. Helps to maintain your range of motion
5. Reduces your chance of injury -- A strong pre-stretched muscle resists stress better than a strong, unstretched muscle.
6. Reduces tension
7. Develops body awareness
8. Promotes circulation
9. Feels good
A Few Points
1. Stretching should never "hurt" or be "painful"
2. It should feel good
3. Do not push the limits
4. Always think of your underlying condition or injury
5. Consistency is the Key
6. It is very individualized and specific; therefore you're able to modify
7. Warmed up muscles respond more favorably than cold ones due.
Reduce muscular tension therefore improving flexibility and range of motion and eventually promoting freer movement.
Attain extreme flexibility which may lead to injury or overstretching.
When to Stretch
1. In the morning before you start your day
2. Before and after exercise
3. After prolong static positions
4. If you feel stiff
5. At work to release tension
The Stretch Reflex
Stretching to far or bouncing causes the muscle and its unit fibers to contract and tighten. This will result in damage to the muscle causing tearing of the fibers eventually leading to pain, soreness, tightness, and potential dysfunction.
Goal: "To improve range of motion at a given articulation by altering the extensibility of the musculotendinous units that produce movement at that joint"
Implementing circuit training into the early offseason develops strength endurance, which increases aerobic capacity, overall strength and assists with preventing injuries as the program progresses.
Strength endurance is a muscle group’s ability to do repeated contractions against a force for a given time. Circuit training is a combination of high-intensity aerobics and resistance training with minimal breaks, which is optimal for building strength endurance and general fitness conditioning.
After general fitness is achieved, the rowing training program should shift toward improving strength. The biomechanical motions of rowing are similar to the power clean and deadlift and should be incorporated with squats to target the prime movers for rowing: quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, upper and lower back.
Training should include at least one pushing exercise into the program to strengthen the antagonist muscles and offset the over-development that can result from the rowing pulling motion. Athletes should focus on performing three to five repetitions per set of each exercise to build a strength base.
Strength training increases the potential for power development, which is necessary to perform rapid movements that demand a high power output. Power training improves the rate of force production, converting maximal strength into explosive power. A powerful rower will exert greater force into the water for further propulsion.
A strong and powerful rower will only benefit the team if she can maintain powerful strokes throughout the race and to the finish. To maintain the same amount of power with each effort with little or no rest, power endurance is required.
The core muscles include the abdominals, back, pelvic floor and hips. Powerful movements originate from the core and transfer to the arms and legs, making core stability essential for power output.
Although rowing is performed on an unstable surface, it is a misconception to perform core exercises on an unstable surface. Unstable surface training reduces peak power, force output and neuromuscular efficiency, thereby minimizing potential strength and power improvements. Stable surface core training enables greater loads and resistances to be used, which is optimal for developing a strong and powerful core.
The Arkansas Boathouse Club has Concept 2 indoor rowers for use by club members. Below is a general workout. There is also valuable information, videos, and additional workouts on the Concept 2 website at http://www.concept2.com/us/training/default.asp.
General Notes for Beginners:
To get the best workout, use a damper setting of between 3 and 5. This may feel too easy at first, but once you get used to the rowing motion and become able to get the wheel spinning faster, you will feel more resistance. The faster you get the wheel spinning, the more resistance is generated.
- Start a training log
- Look for a workout partner. It will probably make your workouts more fun and will help you stick to your new routine.
- Stretch before and after your workouts.
- Warm up for 5 minutes by rowing easily, with a few 10–15 stroke spurts of harder rowing.
The Very First Row
Resist the temptation to row for 30 minutes the first time on the machine. We recommend starting with no more than 3–5 minutes at a time. Then take a break to stretch and walk around. If you feel good, do up to 4 of these short intervals of rowing.
The Second Row
Begin experimenting with stroke rate and power. Stroke rate is your cadence in strokes per minute. It is displayed in the upper right corner of the Performance Monitor. Power is how hard you are pulling. It is displayed in a choice of units in the central display area: watts, calories, or pace. Try some 3 minute intervals of rowing, varying stroke rate and pace, as described below.
3 min at 20 spm, comfortable effort; 1 min rest
3 min at 22 spm, harder effort; 1 min rest
3 min at 24 spm comfortable; 1 min rest
3 min at 24 spm, harder, 3 min rest.
End with 10 minutes of steady state rowing at whatever spm and power are comfortable. Be sure to note the power and spm you settle on—you will use it next workout.
The Third Row
Introduce longer rowing with stroke rate variation.
Do four 5 minutes pieces, varying the stroke rate as follows:
20 spm for first 2 minutes
22 spm for next 2 minutes
24 spm for last minute
Then rest by rowing very easily for 2 minutes, before starting the next 5 minute piece. Your work pace should be faster than your 10 minute pace from last workout.
The Fourth Row
Longer steady rowing.
Two 10 minute pieces with 3 minutes rest in between.
Try to go a little faster than you did for the 10 minute piece in workout 2. Stroke rate 20–24 spm.
The Fifth Row
Short intervals for variety and for a chance to see how fast a pace you can achieve.
Row 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy for a total of 20 minutes.
Watch the central display for your pace. Stroke rate 20–24.
Record your paces after the workout using the recall/memory function on the Performance Monitor.
30 minutes, non-stop.
Definitely record your total meters rowed for this piece. You should repeat this workout periodically, every few weeks, to see how you are progressing.
Regular physical activity is vital for good health. While there is a risk of injury with any type of physical activity, the benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks.
You can reduce your risk of exercise injury by:
- Wearing the right shoes, gear and equipment
- Drinking lots of water
- Warming up and stretching.
Get good advice
You can obtain information and advice about exercise safety from your doctor, a sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist or see a sporting association about sporting technique and equipment.
Take care and listen to your body
Injuries are more likely if you ignore your body’s signals of fatigue, discomfort and pain. Suggestions include:
- See your doctor for a full medical check-up before embarking on any new fitness program.
- Cross-train with other sports and exercises to reduce the risk of overtraining.
- Make sure you have at least one recovery day, and preferably two, every week.
- Exercise at an appropriate intensity for your fitness level. It takes time to increase your overall level of fitness. Training too hard or too fast is a common cause of injury.
- Injuries need rest – trying to ‘work through’ the pain will cause more damage to soft muscle tissue and delay healing.
- If you have a pre-existing injury or an area that is prone to injury, consult your doctor or physiotherapist before starting. Rehabilitation exercises may help to strengthen the injured area or you may be advised to strap it prior to exercising to provide support.
Stop exercising immediately
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and seek medical help:
- Feel discomfort or pain
- Have chest pain or other pain that could indicate a heart attack, including pain in the neck and jaw, pain traveling down the arm or pain between the shoulder blades
- Experience extreme breathlessness
- Develop a rapid or irregular heartbeat during exercise.