Why is the rowing off season the toughest time of the year for rowers?

It’s winter time…for many rowers a period of mental and physical pain. Long lasting, low-intensity workouts are the daily routine, they are necessary to prepare the rower for the racing season. Of course, some nations have the advantage of living in a warm climate and there is no need to get out of the boat. However, for many, there is no way to escape from the winter wonderland. So, you might be asking the question “what do rowers do when the water freezes?” We got you covered and here’s a list of the main rowing winter workouts:

Why Is The Rowing Off Season The Toughest Time Of The Year For Rowers


Yes, we have to start with the rower’s most favorite-rowing machine. Imagine yourself looking at a pale, boring wall for over an hour while repeating the same movement again and again. Winter indoor training sessions are performed in a form of long, low-intensity pieces (for example 3x40min). I hope none of you suffers from a dying iPod battery, especially not at the beginning of the first piece :D

 Why Is The Rowing Off Season The Toughest Time Of The Year For Rowers

Cross-country Skiing

This is probably the most common form of outdoors training during winter. Rowers can improve their endurance greatly while cross-country skiing, it’s very effective and brings a lot of satisfaction. However, on average these workouts take 2-3h of almost nonstop skiing. No excuses! If you want to improve your lung capacity, you have to put in work. It also tends to get boring especially if you are skiing in the same place year after year. Some coaches understand that it’s good to change the surroundings from time to time, others…well, not really so you may end up remembering every tree in your path.

Why Is The Rowing Off Season The Toughest Time Of The Year For Rowers

Heavy Weight Lifting

Probably the most entertaining part of winter training is heavy weight lifting. Even though the time you spent at the gym rounds up to about 3 hours, it is well worth putting in the time because they effects are visible! In other words, athletes get pumped up and they love it. It’s a good time to improve your maximum PR and rowers get very competitive in that field. Squats, bench pull, bench press…well, you don’t want to be at the gym when they are lifting and that includes female rowers as well ;-).

Why Is The Rowing Off Season The Toughest Time Of The Year For Rowers

Hiking/Trail Running

Another form of outdoor training, which some coaches avoid because they simply don’t want any injured athletes in the group.

However, these workouts are meant to be long lasting between 2-4 hours while maintaining a low heart rate. Of course, more competitive rowers have a hard time keeping the low intensity, trying to get ahead, but that’s a feature of every successful athlete. Therefore, meeting rowers on a mountain trail is nothing unusual. Challenge yourself and try to keep up with them… ;)

 Why Is The Rowing Off Season The Toughest Time Of The Year For Rowers

Everything ELSE

Everything else, includes core strengthening, stretching, coordination, volleyball, soccer, indoor cycling and all kinds of games. These workouts are meant to be fun, they are a good way to keep rowers out of the bed but still allowing them to rest between tougher workouts.

As they say NO PAIN NO GAIN!

Author: Anna Wierzbowska



“Eric Limkemann, Pro Triathlete.” January 2012, ericlimkemann.blogspot.com/2012/01/.

Sparks, Ryan. “Ryan Sparks.” Rowing Recruiting, 3 Sept. 2015, www.rowingrecruiting.com/2014/05/recruiting-2k-erg-scores/.

“Te Awamutu Rowing Club.” Winter Training, www.sporty.co.nz/teawamuturowing/newsarticle/47044.


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