A Sample Strength Training Routine for Rowers

This workout was designed for a group of male high school-aged rowers, and was created by strength coach Matrixx Ferreira, CSCS, of Iron Athletics Canada. The workout can be done by athletes from junior to senior ages, so long as the rowers have a grasp of the fundamentals of basic lifting.

As always when hitting the weight room the focus should be on developing sport-specific strength, and this means that there is a focus on quality over quantity. This is particularly important as you don’t want to compromise the training that is being done on the erg or on the water by going overboard in the gym.

With any kind of workout, don’t skip over the warm-up.

Here is the strength training routine for rowers:

1A: Dynamic warmup

  • Either treadmill or bike, 3-5min
  • High knees, 4x20yd
  • Heel kicks, 4x20yd
  • Tin Man, 2x20yd

1B: Mobility

  • RB Rows, 1×20
  • RB Chest Press, 1×20
  • RB Crab Walk, 2x20yd (Both Directions)
  • High Hops, 1x20yd
  • Broad Jumps, 1x20yd
  • Dowel Overhead Squat, 2×10
  • Deep Squat Hold, 2x30sec

(Ensure all warm-up sets are fully completed!)

2A: Pull + Clean, 5×3

2B: Pendlay Row, 5×6

3A: Sumo Deadlift, 3×6

3B: RDL + Bent Row, 3×6

4A: Cool down & Stretch

  • Easy Jog or bike, 3min
  • Foam Roll, 5min

Workout Notes:

The power exercises (2A and 2B) are rowing specific. We want to emphasize fast bar speed and a fast transition. By performing a high pull before executing a clean, the athlete is forced to transition at the highest speed possible. Rest time should be a minimum of 2-3 minutes. Have them work in groups of three or four to ensure rest time.

Strength exercises (3A and 3B) activate hinge muscles necessary to succeed on the water. We add a Bent Row to their RDL to get as much muscle activation in their posterior chain with the time we have allocated. Rest time should be 1-2minutes. As mentioned above, group work is very effective to ensure this.

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