Indoor Sport Services Training Guide
Our Indoor Rowing Training Guide is the ultimate training resource for the Indoor Rower. Written by top education and coaching specialists, it includes information on technique and training, with programmes on cross-training, 2,000m and marathon race training, weight management and keep fit. There are guest chapters written by top names such as Jurgen Grobler and Chris Shambrook as well as dedicated sections on psychology, nutrition and weight training.
Weight Training - Introduction<< Indoor Rowing For RunnersBasic Exercises >>
Almost every muscle group is used in rowing, some in a dynamic way whilst others are used to stabilise the body. Any weakness or muscle imbalance will lead to poor technique and possible injury. Weight, or resistance, training is a way to address this and gain improvements in strength. One advantage of weight training when used in conjunction with rowing training is that the muscles used simultaneously during the rowing action can be developed individually, removing any muscular inequality while developing structural strength. However, weight training for rowing is not just about the development of "Structural Strength".
Like any complicated movement rowing requires the body to learn the movements in order that they can become automatic. When you first learn a skill, especially a complicated skill like rowing, riding a bicycle or driving a car, it takes your entire concentration. You make mistakes and are unable to concentrate on anything else at the same time but as you become more proficient at the skill it requires less of your brainpower to do it and in the end it becomes fully automatic.
The Skill Strength Connection
A common feature amongst people who are really good at their job, whether a top class athlete or a skilled craftsman, is that they make it look so easy. When we try to emulate these experts we realise that it is not as easy as it looks and it is from this experience of failure that we appreciate what they have achieved.
Strength is the basis for all movement, but this does not necessarily mean that the more skilled people are stronger; it simply means that they use the strength that they do have more efficiently. They achieve this by creating a closed circuit where all their effort is directed to the task. All parts of the body that are not directly involved in achieving the aim remain loose and relaxed. Amongst those less skilled you can see all this energy escaping through contorted faces, gritted teeth and tight shoulders that consume huge amounts of effort but contribute nothing to achieving the task.
Although a certain amount of strength is required to overcome any task, in rowing there is no evidence that suggests that improving your absolute strength results in better performance over 2,000m. What is more important is the strength that you can maintain over the entire race, your functional strength. For this reason the alternative programme is designed with improving that area of performance in mind.
As we grow and develop, our structural strength increases naturally through the release of growth hormones, allowing us to carry out activities in a non-prescribed way. Increasing structural strength would be the first stage of strength development, however, when we embark on a programme of weight, or resistance, training to develop a specific skill or movement, there are two further stages of strength development that we need to address to gain any transferable benefit;
Functional strength training is the process by which the muscle begins to learn its role, familiarising it with the load, range and speed of the outcome task and to coordinate with other muscles in a more specific way. These types of exercises are analytical in that they reflect the movements of the outcome task.
Cognitive strength training begins when the muscle knows its role. Load, range of movement and speed of contraction are specific to the outcome task. Use of the words "learn" and "know" are deliberate because apart from the mechanical component there is also a neurological component in the muscle. Muscular contractions occur on receipt of an electrical stimulus from the brain. These small electrical impulses travel along pathways, which must be developed through practice. Until these pathways exist, movements are awkward and require deep concentration. Once strong neurological pathways are established the movement becomes autonomous.
In this section of the Training Guide different methods of weight training are examined. Traditiona weight training is compared to an alternative rowing programme developed by Terry O'Neill. Both of these methods use conventional free weights and require access to a gym. For developing core stability (the muscles that support your spine) there is a training programme developed by rowing coach Ade Roberts.