Recovery for Masters Rowers


By Marlene Royle

Just as pushing your bow across the line for the first time in the 50+ age category signifies entering a mature phase of your rowing career it may also mark new adventures in maintaining equilibrium in your training schedule.

Masters athletes need to include the same intensities of work in their race preparation as their younger counterparts. However, the difference for masters is how and when workouts are planned in the weekly schedule to adjust for potentially longer recovery as the body requires more time. 

How to get faster as a master

Improving your performance as you age is linked to maintaining a relatively high VO2 max. This means that high intensity intervals at race pace need to be a key element of any master’s training program in combination with the substantial endurance work that rowing demands. Such intervals also place a lot of stress on your physiological systems so the volume and frequency needs to be approached carefully to optimize the benefits. Recovery periods are when your body makes the positive adaptation to the work you just did, without break down or injuries can occur more easily.

Only you can gauge how much recovery you need between the intense sessions of the week.

Monitor your morning resting heart rate the day after, if it is elevated above your norm, include low intensity sessions until it returns to normal rest rate. If this typically take two days you can schedule a total rest day, easy distance work, or low intensity cross training.

[Download a training diary to record your bodily responses over time.

Weekly training patterns can vary, be creative.  You may find you feel more energized taking a total rest day after three training days. If a traditional weekly pattern is better for your schedule, resting Monday and Friday might give you the edge you need to maintain quality workouts during the between days.

The best form of recovery as you age is sleep. Getting 40 winks, taking cat naps, or simply laying down restores your energy the fastest especially when backed up by healthy eating. Look over your weekly cycle and build your recovery days around your priority sessions of the week whether it be a long row on the river or 250-meter pieces focus on quality and form to get the and follow it up with a good dose of rest.

Listen to Marlene on RowingChat podcast where she talks more about Masters Rowing 


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Joe DeLeo

    Great post Marlene! It’s the same on the S&C side of things. Recovery especially when going heavy as I’ve gotten older takes more time. Case in point. I could 5 sessions a week sometimes twice a day. When lifting heavy and working on a strength goal (half bodyweight press) I need 3 days of complete rest and 2 days off back to back. Master athletes can still go hard but the recovery piece is where we get stronger and faster!


  2. Guy Marden

    Thank you for this. As a 78 year old mostly beginner it’s refreshing to see something fore my age group.

    1. Tom Wall

      Guy, thank you for your comments. Yes we are targeting an age group between 18 and 80. We are please you are still following us.

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