The Vastus Lateralis’ Relationship to Ergometer Performance and Physiological Capacity in Rowers – By Joe DeLeo 

Concurrently Training Endurance And Strength Improves Rowing Performance – By Alex Wolf

Force Profiles in Rowing: What Do We Know and Where Do We Need To Go? – Nicole Elkins


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Article Summaries

van der Zwaard, S., Weide, G., Levels, K., Eikelboom, M. R., Noordhof, D. A., Hofmijster, M. J., … & Jaspers, R. T. (2018). Muscle morphology of the vastus lateralis is strongly related to ergometer performance, sprint capacity and endurance capacity in Olympic rowers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(18), 2111-2120.

Researchers assessed the structure of the vastus lateralis of 18 Olympic level rowers. The rowers performed a 2,000-meter time trial, incremental step test, and Wingate peak power test to determine endurance and sprint capacity. The researchers found that the muscle volume (cm3) of the vastus lateralis was most attributed to rowing ergometer performance and endurance and sprint capacity. The results of this study suggest that the skeletal muscle architecture of the vastus lateralis can play an important role in rowing performance. Rowers and coaches will learn how to improve muscle hypertrophy of the vastus lateralis and surrounding musculature. 

Izquierdo-Gabarren, M., González de Txabarri Expósito, R., García-Pallarés, J., Sánchez-Medina, L, de Villarreal, E. S. S., & Izquierdo, M. (2010). Concurrent endurance and strength training not to failure optimizes performance gains. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42(6), 1191–1199.

The article explores different strength training approaches and their effectiveness on muscle strength and power characteristics and rowing performance metrics during concurrent training (simultaneously training endurance and strength). 43 male rowers were assigned to one of four groups: control (no strength training), four strength exercises to repetition failure (4RF), four strength exercises not to failure (4NRF), and two strength exercises not to failure (2NRF). Training was completed for eight weeks. 4NRF experienced larger gains in one repetition max and muscle power in the bench press compared to the other conditions. 4NRF and 2NRF had greater mean power during 10 power strokes and mean power during 20 minute all out row when compared to 4RF. There was no change in power output at 4 mmol of blood lactate concentrations. Strength training using moderate repetitions and not to failure seem to create favourable conditions to develop muscle strength and power and rowing performance metrics when compared to high repetitions to failure. These insights can help the coach and rower to effectively organise strength training to optimise training adaptation for improved rowing performance and mitigate the interference effect of concurrent training.

Warmenhoven, J., Cobley, S., Draper, C., & Smith, R. (2018). Over 50 Years of Researching Force Profiles in Rowing: What Do We Know? Sports Medicine, 48, 2703–2714.

The article draws upon a large body of evidence from over the last 50 years, regarding on-water rowing force profiles and how they relate to performance.  There has been increasing interest in the relationship between kinetics (force application at the oar for example) and rowing performance.  This article aims to better understand this relationship.  Instrumentation systems have been developed alongside both quantitative and qualitative analytical approaches to aid us in our understanding of what principles govern better rowing performance.  Despite the large body of research in this area, there is still limited consensus around the optimal characteristics of force profiles in relation to on-water rowing performance.  Newell’s model of constraints is provided as a framework to better understand why the current lack of consensus may exist and provide recommendations for future research.  Despite the limited consensus, force-profile principles that relate to better on-water performance do exist, and rowers and coaches can use this information to apply to their coaching practice on the water and in the gym.

About Science of Rowing

“Science of Rowing” is a monthly publication created by three dual rowing-and-strength coaches: Will Ruth, Blake Gourley, and Joe DeLeo. Our goal is to move research into practice for coaches and rowers of all ages, types, and levels. We are entirely member-funded and do not promote products or sell advertisements. Members receive one issue each month containing three reviews of recent and applicable research in rowing training, strength training for rowing, and other relevant performance areas like psychology, injury analysis, technology, and more.

Each issue includes video and graphic content to help move the knowledge into practice, as well as a podcast episode of the three of us discussing the takeaways and our experiences. Membership includes access to all prior issues, so join us for one month and get access to every issue. We also offer discounted annual and team memberships, as well as gift memberships for a special rower or coach in your life.