Big Heavy Weights

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with strength training for rowing programs. Especially given the seasonal constraints of Division III rowing taking the time to learn strength training to a point of getting a return on the time invested can be difficult. On the flip side most of the more successful athletes (both measured by speed and longevity in the sport) I’ve worked with have made time to lift in some capacity.

This spring I made myself a deal that we’d dedicate 20-25 minutes on two days a week to lifting. We’ve been using dumbbell exercises, mostly, and the first two weeks it was all I could do to avoid stopping the process early; it felt like time ill spent to me. Now, in week 5, I’m very glad we’ve stuck with it. The team is challenging themselves in the weight room and we’ve seen some very real strength and power gains.

It will be most interesting at the end of the year to look back on this process and think about how the lifting has helped us on the water and the erg, and what place it will play in the years to come. As of right now I’d say the prognosis is good. Something for recruits or other people to remember; when you go in the weight room make sure there’s a point to the process, not just a mindless moving of weight. Since we’re training for rowing, all of our lifts relate to rowing and help support the kinetic movement of the rowing stroke OR provide balancing strength to help prevent injuries. No wasted time, no sloppy lifting.

By the way, the picture at the top of this post is a dumbbell used by General George Custer to stay fit while stationed at Fort Hays, Kansas. Looks just about the same as the ones we use today.


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