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Maintaining joint stability and bone health is a priority for masters rowers. Changes in hormones affect the tensile strength of connective tissue, and the resulting loosening of ligaments and tendons sets off joint niggles and flare-ups that can keep you out of the boat.

Resistance training helps build stability around the joints by increasing the strength of the muscles so they can better withstand the pressures of lifting and moving through motions with force. Resistance training also helps increase bone-mineral density. Multidirectional stress is very good for remodeling bone, and older rowers need to put different types of stress on the bone to signal it to get stronger. 

Rowing does not offer enough changes in direction, nor do walking or running alone. This is where well-chosen cross-training activities can fill the gap and add some variety to your program.

Jumping rope or skipping for a couple of minutes a day can have a positive impact on bone health. Include it in your warm-up routine. Also, engage in activity that requires movement in different directions. Go out dancing, play tennis, shoot some hoops, or hike uphill, bounding with ski poles, mixing in sets of lateral hops similar to how cross-country skiers train.

Have some fun with friends and improve your bone health at the same time.

Marlene Royle is the author of Tip of the Blade: Notes on Rowing. She specializes in training masters rowers, and her coaching service, Roylerow Performance Training Programs, provides the support you need to improve your competitive edge. For information, email Marlene at or visit

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