Topend Sports Logo

Rowing Fitness

Physical fitness is one of the most important aspects of rowing performance. A skillful rower will do OK, but without the fitness part of their performance they will not be a complete and successful rower.

Aerobic endurance fitness is one of the most important physical fitness attributes for rowers. Rowers need to be able to maintain a very high level of intensity throughout their race. Another very important fitness component is anaerobic fitness, which means strength and power, and the ability to repeatedly exert a high force for the race duration. Rowers also need good flexibility, they need to have a low body fat level and it is advantageous to have a specific body size.  See our discussion of the Fitness Components for Rowing.

Training Fitness

Regular training is needed to maximize all areas of fitness. Here are some important factors to remember for an effective training program. Have a good plan. The training should be directed to achieve specific goals and be individualized to maximize the physical capabilities of rowers. In order to improve, the physical load needs to be increased over time as the rowers get fitter. There is more information about training for sports.

sweep rowingsweep rowers in training

Strength for Rowing

For rowers, it is not the peak force that can be exerted that is most important, the best performances come from a smooth application of force over an extended time. There also needs to be a good balance between upper and lower body strength. Exercises in the weights gym such as the leg press, arm press and arm pull are suitable training exercises. These must be supplemented with training on the rowing ergo at high resistance settings and on water with drag to increase strength in a sport-specific environment.

concept2 rowing ergometer concept 2 rowing ergometer

Endurance for Rowing

Endurance training is very important - the aerobic system contributes 70-80% of the energy in a rowing race. It is important to supplement the on water training with gym training and other cross-training such as running and cycling. This will help maximize the training gains and also keep it interesting and maintain the motivation for the rowers.

Assessing Fitness

Regular fitness assessments are required to monitor training improvements and to determine which areas are best to concentrate on. There are some good rowing specific fitness tests and others that can be used to test the overall fitness of rowers. Read more about fitness testing for rowing.

Event Differences

The physical demands will vary a little for rowers in different disciplines (e.g. single sculls v rowing 8s), and the training should reflect that. By using the result of fitness assessments, training can be targeted to the specific strengths and weaknesses of each rower.

Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Sport Extra

Check out the 800+ sports in the Encyclopedia of Every Sport. Well not every sport, as there is a list of unusual sports, extinct sports and newly created sports. How to get on these lists? See What is a sport? We also have sports winners lists, and about major sports events and a summary of every year.

 → How to Cite