Calcium Consumption Affects Bone Turnover Markers in Elite Rowers – By Joe DeLeo 

Rowing on an Inclined Ergometer Effects the Trunk’s Contribution During the Drive Phase – By Alex Wolf

Application of Blood Flow Restriction Training for Rowers – Ishan Rawlley-Singh

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Article Summaries

Lundy, B., McKay, A. K., Fensham, N. C., Tee, N., Anderson, B., Morabito, A., Ross, M., Sim, M., Ackerman, K.E. & Burke, L. M. (2023). The impact of acute calcium intake on bone turnover markers during a training day in elite male rowers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 55(1), 55.

Researchers studied 16 Australian elite male rowers to determine the impact acute calcium consumption had on bone turnover markers (BTMs). The rowers were randomly allocated to two conditions: a low calcium condition (< 10 mg of calcium) or a high calcium (~1000 mg of calcium) to understand how this affected BTMs. The study was completed over a two week period allowing all 16 rowers to participate in both conditions. The researchers found that the high calcium condition resulted in lower BTMs and a stabilization across the entire training day. The low calcium condition resulted in an increase in BTMs. Rowers and coaches can use the results of this study to properly fuel for training and monitor athletes’ health and performance.

Huang, C. F., Chen, C. H., & Chou, K. M. (2003). The effect of inclined ergometer on rowing performance. Journal of sports science & medicine, 7(4), 505-506.

Rowing coaches place a large emphasis on the ‘catch to maximal handle force’ period as this is one of the most significant contributors to boat speed. This is commonplace across many rowers. Increasing rowing stroke performance may require viewing the stroke in novel ways. This article focuses on the impact that training on an inclined rowing ergometer has on rowing biomechanics and performance. 7 female Taiwan National Rowing Team rowers completed a 6-minute maximal test on level ground and a 10° incline. Range of motion (RoM) of the knee, hip, and trunk inclination and forces were measured alongside performance outcomes. Total distance covered was significantly greater with level rowing when compared to inclined rowing. The average peak force was greater at the start and end of the test for level rowing. There was increased trunk extension (layback) during the inclined rowing test when compared to level rowing. While rowing performance was not improved with inclined rowing ergometry, the increase in trunk extension provides an avenue to explore on how to train the drive phase post maximal handle force (MHF) to eventually support improved rowing performance.

Patterson, S.D., Hughes, L., Warmington, S., Burr, J., Scott, B.R., Owens, J., Abe, T., Nielsen, J.L., Libardi, C.A., Laurentino, G., Neto, G.R., Brandner, C., Martin-Hernandez, J., Loenneke, J. (2019). Blood flow restriction exercise: Considerations of methodology, application and safety. Frontiers in Physiology, 10 (533).

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a commonly used method used for multiple outcomes. It involves the application of a tourniquet to the uppermost aspect of the arms or legs. It is inflated to a predetermined pressure to compress the underlying tissues and vasculature, restricting blood flow to distal (away from the centre) parts of the body (e.g., if the tourniquet is applied to the top of the thigh, it will impede the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles). This creates an ischemic (when blood flow to the heart is reduced) and hypoxic (reduced blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles) environment. When performed during low-intensity exercise, this forces a reliance on anaerobic metabolism, which creates substantial metabolic stress and triggers several secondary mechanisms that drive various adaptations within the muscles. From the different modes of BFR application that have been researched, there are three primary modes that I have found to benefit rowers. Firstly, passive BFR can be used to minimise atrophy during periods of inactivity, such as post-surgery, and for recovery from strenuous exercise. Secondly, BFR can be used during rest periods or after high-intensity exercise on a rowing ergometer, bike, or other cardiovascular equipment to increase aerobic performance. This can be used as an isolated training programme or supplement to  existing training programmes. Lastly, the most common form of BFR training is during resistance training for muscle hypertrophy and strength. There are specific guidelines that must be followed for each of these different applications of BFR. Finally, although BFR is safe for most, several health conditions must be screened before commencing a BFR intervention. In this review, I articulate the applications of BFR outlined above that may be useful for rowers, guidelines for use, and safety considerations.

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.