At first glance, rowing seems simple. All you have to do is learn the proper motion and stay in the proper cadence and you’re good, right? Well, not so fast. As anyone who has ever done crew knows, it’s all about physical and mental endurance.
Without copious amounts of endurance, you’ll never make it in this sport.
Build Rowing Endurance With These 6 Tips
So much of the success, you experience in competitive rowing and crew has to do with endurance. Without endurance, you can’t be successful in this sport.
And no manner of reading books, watching YouTube races, or talking with teammates is going to build up your endurance. At the end of the day, you have to put in the reps.
Keeping all of this in mind, here are several tips for building up your rowing endurance so that you can be a more successful rower.
1. Master Proper Stroke Mechanics
Good technique and proper stroke mechanics will help you build endurance by ensuring you’re using the right muscles and not over-taxing the wrong muscle groups. As you likely know, there are four parts to a rowing stroke: the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery.
Perfecting each aspect of the stroke is key to enduring rowing for long periods of time. For example, you can have a great catch, drive, and finish, but if your recovery stroke is out of whack, you’re going to tire out.
2. Practice Daily With a Rowing Machine
Getting on the water isn’t always possible outside of standard practice time. Thankfully, you can use a rowing machine to build up your physical stamina and enhance your overall endurance.
It’s a good idea to practice with a rowing machine daily. You can try circuit-style training where you train at different intervals.
For example, you might do 60-minute light daily sessions for a couple of weeks followed by 15-minute daily sprint sessions for a week. Work with your trainer/coach to figure out what’s best for you.
3. Get on the Water Regularly
While a rowing machine is a great way to get daily reps in, you also need to spend as much time on the water as you can. In terms of racing endurance, you want to get practice that’s as close as possible to the real thing.
There’s something unique about the way an oar cuts through the water. You need to feel this same feedback and resistance on a regular basis.
4. Get More Race Experience
Getting racing experience is really the only way to train your mind and body to be competitive in this sport. You can build up some really solid stamina and physical strength with practice, but there’s so much more adrenaline and focus involved in an actual race.
If you’re looking for additional racing experience outside of your normal crew season, try attending various camps. The two-week Thames Racing Program is one of the best.
It’s a camp for experienced rowers who are looking to stretch themselves with advanced training and racing. Plus, not only do you get to race at the Kingston Regatta and Molesey Regatta, but you get to spend time seeing the sights in London.
5. Branch Out With Other Exercise
In addition to spending time on the rowing machine, it’s a good idea to mix up your exercise routine with other types of exercises.
Good alternatives include kettlebell swings, barbell squats, pull-ups, dumbbell bent-over rows, dumbbell thrusters, resistance band deadlifts, barbell upright rows, kettlebell high pulls, and seated cable rows. This will give you a well-rounded workout regimen.
6. Strengthen Your Mental Muscles
It’s not all about physical strength and endurance. You also have to train your mental muscles to be prepared for grueling races.
As anyone who has been in a competitive racing environment knows, this is at least half the battle. You have to find a way to keep rowing when everything in you tells you to give up. Here are some tactics you can use.
Ready, Set, Row
Endurance is probably the most underrated attribute of successful crew members. Without it, you’ll never evolve into who you want to become. It’s the difference between enjoying the sport and loathing it. Use the tips highlighted above to incrementally improve your endurance over the coming months.