How do I build endurance for rowing?

Sagar Sen, the Sweetzpot co-founder, will give his point of view on it.


Endurance in rowing typically comes from efficiency of your stroke cycle. Lets just take one stroke cycle and go deeper into it. Here is what I recommend as the secret to developing endurance.


1) Inhale a large quantity of air (using your mouth) to fill your lungs and abdomen in the recovery phase before you take the catch.

2) As soon as you get a grip on the water. Suspend yourself by pushing on the legs and hanging off your oars. You will feel your gluteal muscles and feel that you are getting off the seat a bit. Don’t panic, since a boat will float up (remember Archimedes principal) to meet your butt unlike an erg. This action reduces the wetted surface area since you take your weight off the boat and put it behind the blades and at the same time you reduce the wetted surface area.

3) Now, an efficient rower will try to keep the body suspended from catch to finish. This is what I recommend you do to achieve that: push with your legs against the inspiratory pressure that you have in the abdomen due to all that air you inhaled earlier. Open the back and pull in with the arms in such a way that you remain suspended in throughout the stroke. This coordination is very important. Feel and solicit your breathing muscles that holds air in the abdomen and protects your spine to stay suspended from catch to finish. This will consistently help in reducing the wetted surface area by levering yourself and the boat. Think rhythm, think continuity of motion,..think gliding..think getting air trapped under the boat.

4) You will hear air bubbles under the boat as a consequence. Each stroke breathes life into your boat. Let it live, while you recover to take the next stroke. Let the boat come underneath you as you slide forward to take the next stroke without suffocating it. Some people slam forward with the slides instead enjoy the music of the boat singing. Again remember to inhale completely during the recovery. Keep the stroke rate between 16 to 20 spm at most and do longer distances. This will translate to increased endurance and efficiency when you row at race pace and at a higher rate (30–35 spm). The boat will feel like feather (I am exaggerating here but it should feel lighter). Use our free app Sweetzpot Rowing(Apps – SweetZpot) along with Fixzpot (FixZpot – SweetZpot Store) to obtain realtime feedback on the stroke rate and speed. Try to understand what makes the boat go fastest with the least stroke rate.

5) During the driving you hold the breath (in the stomach) and “don’t let it leak” until the finish where you let the pressure build up in the abdomen come out as a strong “phu”. You don’t make the sound deliberately but it happens due to the intense pressure on the inspiratory muscles and the air in the abdomen coming out like a pressure cooker.

Oxygenating yourself in every stroke with the air you inhale has several advantages. You will keep your heart rate in check as more oxygenated blood flows to your muscles. The heart will not have to beat faster as the stroke volume will be higher due to the higher oxygen content. The air also protects your spine and helps connect much better!

Once, you row long distances with the above principles, nobody can stop you from blazing speeds at higher stroke rates when you do the 2km. Nevertheless, if you want to go to the Olympics then you have to train 6 hrs a day, also focusing on strength training as you do many races in a tournament. You need to hold your posture and manage fatigue to peak in the final race.

Hope that helped. Wish you the best! Rowing is a great sport keep gliding on water.

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