6 Comments
Feb 8Liked by Will Ruth

Further, the big swing finish to increase total ark of movement is likely inferior to the flexed spine position as the height of the athlete increases and more particularly in stroke rates at or above 32/min. See Ollie, Drysdale, Tufte, Cappinen, Florein, and Karsten. The exceptions are shorter ala Ntouskos.

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Feb 7Liked by Will Ruth

While I share the idea that strength improvement on dry land via various squats, modified dead lifts and other movements under tension with a straight back are important in generating power early in the rowing stroke cycle, note that the highest level men and women single scullers over several decades begin the drive phase of the stroke in a flexed spine position which is maintained approximately intact for roughly 80% of drive. In fact, current (2023) Dutch scullers dominating World Cup level competition, are releasing their blades about 15-18 degrees past vertical while still maintaining a slight bow or flex it the spine.

None of the lifts you prescribe begin in this posture and are in fact emphasize back extension well past the point where sculls are out of the water. Why is that?

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Hi Stan. I'm good with different rowing styles. I don't focus on it in the gym unless there's something really specific that the rower/coach brings to me to work on. Like you say, squats and deadlifts with a straighter back are important to generate power early in the stroke. I'm interested in that as a primary outcome for the modern rower, as well as the ability to stay healthy under high year-round training load. The important thing for me is that the rower becomes strong, muscular, powerful, and generally athletic (coordinated in many movements/directions). That's plenty to work on in the 2-4 hours per week that we have for strength training. They get plenty of time in the boat and on the erg to apply these general abilities to their specific technique of rowing and erging.

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Yes however lifts proposed for general strengthening aren’t specific to what’s happening in the boat. In the boat, there are no eccentric contractions of the major extensors, or shouldn’t be because they stops/check the run of the boat, by the major leg and hip musculature during the recovery or at the catch. Ideally once the blades are buried tension in these major muscles begin at or near zero pressure against the footboard.

Why then emphasize lifts that break this basic rule? Also, the videos say don’t bend the back while performing these lifts yet, rowers and scullers who catch with and attempt to hold their backs in a slightly flexed position throughout the drive -in effect taking atvantage of the stretch reflex in the posterior delta, trapezius and lats by building tension in a position similar to a bow under tension, win many more races than any other style.

Dutch rowers and scullers and others use little hip pivot or body swing before the oars release in all boat classes. As an aside, they won 6 gold and 4 silver at the 2023 world championships. The US, not so great.

It’s my opinion the strength training exercises promoted in your videos are very good at producing power early in the drive during C2 erg rowing where there is no penalty for pressing into the stretchers before the catch then a big body swing into the finish where there is again no penalty for a movement that would drive the bow down in a boat.

As a winner of 4 CRASH-B hammers, and WRs at 500 & 1k on the C2, I learned how to score on an erg but as a winner of the 1x at the HOC and 5 1x national masters 1x titles, strength training for actual sculling is much, much different from what is described in your resistance program. Essentially these are the same exercises used over the past 4 decades. As we can see from the medals table over the past 25 years, the US has been left behind so I surmise the carry over value for this type of off water training has very limited value I’m sorry to say. So why teach learners what doesn’t work at the international World Cup level?

I have developed some simple resistance exercises and drills that don’t break the rules, emulate the on water stroke, are neurologically correct, and are effective for developing power in the first .4 seconds of the in boat drive.

Studies show that the smallest variation in hull velocity over the course of a 2k or 5k race where max force is developed early in the drive, produce the fastest times and win more races. If your interested in my ideas, I’m happy to share them. Cheers

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Hi Stan. Do you have a blog or website of your own where you can expand these ideas? If not, I encourage you to do so and I'd be happy to read them there.

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