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Wilderness Sports > Rowing Training Ideas

Group Rowing Training Ideas

These suggestions were initially contributed on the Supertraining Bulletin Board.

I haven't seen reference to several solid training techniques we used at Mount Holyoke College from 1984-1988 and found to be effective in group rowing training settings. Some came from Holly Metcalf, Olympic Gold medalist in the 1984 summer Olympics, and others were introduced by Fred Cressman, with good results.

One was a "circuit" of a kind -- we had 8-10 light barbells made up to be anywhere between 30-50 pounds, and as a boat, we would get together and do a continuous movement circuit of 8 different exercises, keeping the bar moving for a full 20 minutes. You can bet that will get any rower ready for endurance fall "head" races! If I recall correctly, the circuit consisted of such exercises as bent over rows, high pulls, overhead presses, squats, cleans, deadlifts -- 10 reps of each, in a set pattern (mixing leg-dominant with back-dominant), over and over again for the full 20 minutes.

Now granted, 30-50# is a small fraction of the weight that each rower could do for each single exercise (I recall the bent over rows being exceptionally easy for me, as I was one of the stronger rowers on the bench pull exercise) but every time after the circuit, I was drenched in sweat and desperately wanted to throw that bar as far from me as I possibly could. Great way to gain muscular endurance for fall races, and didn't require a lot of space or messing with adjusting various weights.

Another technique we used for 8+ rowers (in fact, we did this as a whole team, 30+ people) is what was termed "Indian running", a modification of fartlek running. We'd all start as a group, then pace ourselves out in one long line, and the person at the back of the line would sprint as quickly as possible to the front (like a mid-race sprint) and then slow to the pack pace, while the next person (now at the end of the line) would repeat, over and over -- you'd get some good sprint training mixed with the endurance work, again just like head pieces in rowing. What was a killer, though, was sprinting to the front on steep hills... Talk about wanting to puke!

--Courtenay Schurman, CSCS



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