Rowing and Mobility – part 3 glutes

Here we go. This is part 3 of our series from Strength Coach Will Ruth. Today he talks about:

Glute Mobility for Rowers

In Part 1, we discussed what “tightness” really is (and what it isn’t), why mobility is so much more than just flexibility alone, and how to address mobility restrictions in the thoracic spine. In Part 2, we broke down the big bad hip flexor muscles. We’ll now discuss the hip flexor’s counterpart, the glute muscles of the posterior hip. The glutes are super important muscles for rowing. Not only are they responsible for a serious amount of power in the drive, but they are also major stabilizers of the hips and spine in all parts of the stroke and daily life. Much like the hip flexors, glutes can get fatigued, sore, and achey without any acute injury or condition, and are well worth the time in preventative massage, flexibility, mobility, and strength training for rowers to enjoy healthy bodies, good performance, and long careers.

Restriction: Gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, piriformis

Location: Posterior hip, “the butt muscles”

Rowing fault: Poor compression at the catch, poor leg drive, shortened reach during recovery

Importance of Glutes for Rowing

On the opposite side of hip flexors, the gluteal muscles are in a constant semi-stretched position during long bouts of sitting. Because full hip extension is never reached in rowing, the hip extensors are not often worked through their full range of motion. Inhibited compression, posterior pelvic tilt, and poor reach during the recovery are common results from gluteal restriction. Legs splayed during the recovery or at the catch is also common with rowers with tight glutes. Similar to hip flexor tightness, restricted glute muscles can be a culprit of back pain as the muscles all interact with the lower spine and hip region.

Rowing and Mobility and the fix: Glutes for Rowing

With one leg crossed over the other, begin by foam rolling over the glute muscles broadly. If you find a trigger point with just the foam roller, work it for a couple minutes. Next, repeat with a tennis, softball, or lacrosse ball (ordered in ascending intensity). This should really allow you to dig in to the glute muscles, particularly the piriformis. Repeat this on both sides of the hip, then move on to static stretching. The pigeon stretch, figure-four, and lying glute stretch are the main stretches I use for tight glute muscles. I find that the specific trigger point work can be done at least once daily for an athlete who has a problem with their glutes, preferably more like 2-3 times so
long as it doesn’t cause tenderness or bruising.

Video: Guided Glute Mobility –

Strengthening Glutes for Rowing

First, we do a glute activation and hip warmup or a full body warmup before every strength training session, and I encourage rowers to do them before erging and rowing sessions as well. This sequence ensures that the hip flexors are being stretched and the glutes are being worked through a full range of motion at least once per training session. This helps keep them mobile before getting in a boat or on an erg. Including exercises that work the hips through a full range of extension motion is critical to strengthening the glute muscles. Banded good mornings, Romanian deadlifts, X-Band walks, and bilateral and unilateral hip extensions (thrusts or bridges) are always included in my rowing programs. Additionally, squats are great for gluteal development as well as leg drive power.

In order to enact significant, lasting change, a dedicated comprehensive program that involves all modalities is critical. I recommend focusing on one problem area at a time, at least one 10-15 minute session per day. Spending 20 minutes a day working on mobility for 2-3 weeks while watching a TV show, for instance, is a great way to progress toward full function. Foam roll, perform self-manual release on specific trigger points, and stretch, then make sure to perform additional strengthening exercises while implementing proper form into your rowing and erging training. Also, be cognizant of posture throughout the day. Many times, those with glute restrictions will spend much of the day in poor postural positions. Once full function is achieved, daily maintenance is simply performing daily activities from that now-strong position that your body can now adopt as normal positions.

You will find Wills E-Book in our shop. Read Rowperfect’s  successful post here. If you like more information check out Will’s website and get more information about rowing and mobility.

Get your weekly newsletter here

* indicates required

Rowperfect UK Limited uses theses informations to get in contact with you. To send you updates, information about items, stories and rowing information. Please click to sign up for the newsletter.

You can change your mind any time and unsubscribe by clicking unsubscribe or contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. Please find more information about data on our website. When clicking on subscribe you agree that we will that we will process the information according the mentioned terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.



Last updated November 2018.

2 thoughts on “Rowing and Mobility – part 3 glutes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.