Continued – Cram Session

May 9, 2012

- Build strength, endurance, and power by combining your weights and water workouts.

By Coach Kaehler

While we all want to be stronger and faster, finding time to add strength training into your current rowing program is a common problem. One option is to combine your strength training and rowing into one session. Choosing which comes first depends on your goals for the workout. Some prefer rowing after their muscles are already fatigued from a strength-training session. Others will want to row while they are fresh. And there will be some who are fine alternating which comes first.
Getting your strength-training session in before you row is a great way to warm up. It also helps improve your strength and flexibility. Circuit training with light (10 to 30 percent of body weight) to moderate (30 to 65 percent) weight is an excellent way to stress the neuromuscular system without over taxing it just before a session on the water or erg. Strength training using heavier resistance (80 percent of body weight) puts greater stress on the neuromuscular system, which can impede proper rowing technique. Plan on getting your row out of the way first if you are going to be combining a heavy strength-training session with a paddle.
A short to moderate (20- to 40-minute) strength-training session improves muscular endurance, strength, and power under conditions of fatigue. Training your muscles when fatigued is an excellent way to improve muscular endurance while simulating end-of-race conditions. Make sure you factor in your level of fatigue when choosing the resistance for a particular session. I recommend a routine that features light to moderate weights following a row; lifting heavy weights immediately after a rowing session increases the risk of injury. But if you absolutely must combine heavy weights with a session on the water, select resistance levels that are less than what you would do when fresh.
For those who have never combined rowing and strength training together in one session, I recommend giving your body eight to 12 weeks to adjust.

Start by rowing for 25 to 30 minutes and then lifting for 20-25-minutes, or vice versa. It’s up to you what you do first, but if you’re new to strength training, consider beginning with it. If you are resuming training after a layoff, try to keep the total combined strength and rowing session to no more than 30 or 40 minutes.  Remember when starting out to choose strength exercises that you are familiar with and keep the load on the lower side (10 to 30 percent of body weight). More experienced athletes can increase the volume based on their current training programs and levels of fitness.
Performing at your best requires that you train both the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.  Adding land-based strength training to your current program helps to improve the strength and power of your rowing stroke.  The research shows that gains in strength occur when strength training and endurance sports training sessions are combined.   Regardless of the net effect on your rowing performance, combining strength-training and rowing sessions is an excellent way to improve strength, endurance, and power.

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