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    Don’t Be Such a Stiff

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    Long travel hours are not friendly to a rowers’s body. Static sitting leaves one feeling stiff, so having a strategy to loosen up makes the transition from the car to the boat easier and safer. 

    You can stay race-ready in your hotel room or at your venue by including a total body warm-up in your pre-launch land routine. Strength coach Will Ruth has developed a dynamic targeted routine to get your rowing muscles stimulated and joints moving. 

    Begin from your ankles and work up. Ankle mobility includes flexion while keeping the heel down and driving the knee forward. The three-way hip opener targets hip range of motion with a groin stretch to the extended leg and a stretch to the inside and outside of the knee by placing your hand on the foot of your bent leg.

    The gluteus muscles are activated with donkey kicks straight back, the fire-hydrant move for the gluteus medius, and a hip thrust to bridge that lifts the hips and squeezes your butt muscles.

    A 30-second full-tension plank braces your glutes, abs, and lats simultaneously. Follow that with elastic-band pull-aparts for the mid-back muscles and a pushup plus, which adds a little extra reach once the arms are straight to activate your serrates anterior, thereby guarding against rib strain.

    The deep-squat progression is key to getting your lower body prepped. Begin by standing with your hands on your thighs, slide your hands down your legs, and grab your feet. Hinge at the hips and push your hips back as far as you can. Pull yourself down into a squat position. Elbows should slightly push out against the inside of your knees. Then put your hands up over your head and stand up. 

    Repeat each exercise 10 times.  

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

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