Strength Coach Roundtable #6: Deadlifting for Rowers

We changed up the format a bit for this episode and spent the whole time just talking about one lift. We could make an argument that the best lift is the deadlift for rowing. The deadlift has a ton of carryover to rowing, for performance, reinforcing technical cues and coaching, and long-term back health. In this 55-minute episode, we give some backstory on the deadlift, why it’s such a great lift for rowing, our progression for teaching it to new lifters, variations on the deadlift that we use in our training, and of course, how to actually train it with sets, reps, and intensities for in-season and off-season.

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0:00 — Brief update and news from our coaching and learning

3:15 — Overview of the deadlift for rowing

16:25 — Teaching progression for the deadlift for rowing

RowingStrength Trap Bar
Trap Bar (Rowing Strength)

25:21 — The Great Bracing Debate

34:10 — Variations of the deadlift for rowing

39:37 — Training the deadlift for rowing, in-season and off-season

50:40 — Final notes on the deadlift

  • “Strength reserve is the difference between maximum strength and the strength required to perform a skill under competitive conditions. For example, one study using strength-gauged techniques measured rowers’ mean force per stroke during a race, which was 123 pounds (Bompa, Hebbelinck, and Van Gheluwe 1978). The same subjects were found to have absolute strength in power clean lifts of 198 pounds. Subtracting the mean strength per race (123 pounds) from absolute strength (198 pounds) indicates a strength reserve of 75 pounds. In other words, the ratio of mean strength to absolute strength is about 1 to 1.6. Other subjects in the same study were found to have a higher strength reserve and a ratio of 1 to 1.85. Needless to say, these subjects performed better in rowing races, which supports the conclusion that an athlete with a higher strength reserve is capable of performing at a higher level. Therefore, a strength and conditioning coach should aim to help athletes reach the highest possible level of maximum strength during the weekly time devoted to strength training in a rational ratio with more sport-specific sessions, in order to prevent a negative transfer”. 
    • Bompa T., Hebbelinck, M. and Van Gheluwe, B. 1978. A biomechanical analysis of the rowing stroke employing two different oar grips. The XXI World Congress in Sports Medicine, Brasilia, Brazil.
  • Will: FAQs on deadlifting for rowing
  • “There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift!”

Thanks for listening! If you have a question or comment, please leave it below and we’ll respond. Until our next episode, you can listen to all of our old ones here in the Rowperfect UK archives.

2 thoughts on “Strength Coach Roundtable #6: Deadlifting for Rowers

  1. ScaiacS says:

    I would urge you to redraw the SHEAR figure in the inset. If someone takes this lift positioning literally, the chances of lower back strain or potential for perminent damage will be considerable. Use the picture to model the drawing. That back angle is spot on….angled back, low butt. This will also position the lower leg in an advantageous position, a bit more like moving the seat up the slide. And no appreciable pull with the arms when using considerable weight. Very important.

    • StrengthCoachWill says:

      Hi ScaicS,

      Thanks for the comment. That image actually belongs to SAPTStrength.com and should be taken just as an illustration of what shear force is versus compressive force. It is not a recommendation for how to perform the lift. We talk at length in the episode about the value of reducing shear force when deadlifting, I think you’d enjoy that discussion.

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