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Scott Durant: how to train at home for rowing

Rowing is a very physically demanding sport that requires endurance and power of the highest level to be successful. It requires hours and hours on the water to reach the top level of the sport. Rowing requires a good aerobic fitness as the relativity long duration of the race in terms of energy production requires aerobic energy production.  However, at certain points of the race (mostly at the end) there is a strong anaerobic component e.g. a sprint for the finish line. Therefore, this illustrates the need for rowers to have good endurance and power to be successful.

The 4 phases of rowing

Scott DurantOlympic gold medallist at Rio 2016 in the mens 8, explain to us the 4 phases that are required for correct rowing technique.  The rowing technique can be split into 4 phases:

The Catch
This is the start of each stroke. This is the tucked up position where your shins should be vertical, your upper body and shoulders relaxed and a relaxed, hooked grip with your knuckles pointing forwards.
The Drive
This phase is where the power of the stroke is performed. Most of the power for this movement come from the legs. Drive through your feet onto the plate in which your feet are held keeping your upper body relaxed and your arms straight. You should feel a hanging sensation. Once you get close to full extension of the knees you need to engage your back. It is important not to overextend at the back (try not to go more than 20° from the original position. After this you engage the arms to supplement the drive. It is important to remember that this movement should be one fluid motion so, although it has been broken down into several phases above, these sections need to merge together into one movement.
The Finish
A good way of checking you are doing the drive phase correctly is to see if you finish in the right way. The legs should be flat and fully extended, the back should be slightly leaned back, the elbows back and the wrists flat.
The Recovery
This phase returns you back to the catch to start the next stroke. The hands come away from the body first. Then the body comes back over and then you slide forwards. Again, this is a fluid motion and so each part of this movement needs to be done in a fluid motion.

Rowing training programs from home

Having interviewed Scott Durant, he provided us some workout suggestions people can be use while at home. He provided us with a session to use if you have Skillrow at home and a separate program if you don’t so that you can keep striving to improve whatever your situation.

This is a 30-minute interval training session. 

  • 3’ warm up
  • 1’ at rate 26 with 1’ rest 5 times
  • 1’ at rate 30 with 1’ rest 4 times
  • 1’ at rate 34 with 1’ rest 3 times
  • 30” flat out with 30” rest 2 times

Ensure you do a good cool down and stretch to help with recovery.

If you do not have a Skillrow at home, then there are still a number of exercises that can be done to improve your rowing ability.

The two phases that can be greatly developed while training at home with no equipment are the catch and the drive. A number of flexibility exercises can help improve the ease and the range of motion of the catch. Whilst power and endurance exercises of the legs can help to improve the drive phase.

  • For each of the strength/power exercises in this section perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions with 60 seconds rest.

Jump squats

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bend through the knees to lower the hips until the thighs are below parallel and you can touch the ground. Spring through the legs to jump into the air as high as you can.

Jump Squat

Squat with reach single leg

Stand on one foot, opposite leg is slightly bent and parallel to support leg. Flex at the hip, knee, and ankle to lower body, using only the support leg, and reach the opposite arm toward support foot. Push through heel to return to starting position.

Squat with reach single leg

Glute bridges

Lie on back with legs hip width apart, knees bent and arms straight on either side of body. Push through heels and squeeze glutes to lift hips off floor, maintaining a neutral spine. Lower hips to return to starting position.

Glute Bridge

Reverse crunches

Lie on back with knees bent and arms straight on either side of body. Using abdominals, pull knees in toward center of body lifting hips off the floor. Lower legs and feet to return to starting position.

Reverse crunches
  • For the mobility exercises in this section hold each stretch for 30 seconds and then take 15 seconds rest. Repeat 3 times for each stretch.

Hip mobility stretch

Lie supine with both legs extended. Flex at one knee and hip to bring the knee into the chest. Grasp the thigh with both hands and pull it into the body until you feel a stretch through the hamstring. Keep both shoulders against the ground. Hold the stretch for the desired duration.

Hip mobility stretch

Hip flexors stretch

Take a long step forward and bend the front knee into a lunge position. The front knee should not pass over the front toe. Keeping the back knee straight, rock the hips backward until a stretch is felt in the hip flexor of the back leg. Hold the stretch for the desired duration.

Hip flexors stretch

Prone boat

Begin lying on your front with the forehead on the floor and the arms by your sides. Actively lengthen the body as you lift the chest, arms, and legs off of the ground. Keep the head in alignment with the spine.

It may be difficult to hold this stretch for 30 seconds so try to work up to this: maybe start by holding it for 10 seconds and gradually increase the duration.

Prone boat

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