More strength advice for beginner rowers from Kristin Marvin


“I’m a new rower and I compete in school regattas. I was wondering what exercises I could do to become a stronger rower?”

As a new athlete to the sport it is important to note that whole body movements win over your typical exercise program, especially as a high school student. 

You sit down all day long at school: you sit during lunch, you probably sit on the way home (bike, car or bus) and then sit some more watching TV in the evening. AND to top it off your sport is SITTING! All this sitting makes your body tight and stiff. A tight muscle is a weak muscle. Plain and simple. Lengthening your muscles are crucial to strengthening them.

Regardless if you have practice in the morning or in the afternoon it is important to wake up your back, hips, and arms. There’s no better way to do this than through the movement of crawling. Yes! I said crawling, on your hands and knees: forwards, backwards and side to side. It is not only for your mobility, it is great for your stability (strength).

Strength advice

Once you feel comfortable doing several minutes of crawling on your hands and knees you can bring your knees off the ground (hovering your knees 1 to 2 inches off the ground) and crawl this way. Here is our strength advice for beginner rowers:

  • Start with 3 X 20 seconds (front crawl),
  • 3X 20 seconds (back crawl),
  • 3X20 seconds (right side),
  • 3X 20 seconds (left side).

This is NOT easy and you might need to start with 10 seconds each. When you can crawl (knees hovering) for 10 minutes straight, then you will truly have full body strength with length! 

This will help your rowing tremendously, I promise you! It does look funny, so make sure you do it with a friend!!!

Erg training? Well, try to discuss this with your coach. You also might want to check with your doctor. If all is ok, we could also advice a great book from Will Ruth called Rowing Stronger

Have fun 🙂 

by Kristin Marvin, Restorative Exercise Specialist

Crawl exercise for rowing strength Crawl exercise for rowing strength


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