Ramp up your rowing skills with these 4 total body strength exercises
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Ramp up your rowing skills with these 4 total body strength exercises

Do you want to power up your paddle sport skills? Summer is the perfect time to workout on the water. But before you dive into your aquatic adventures, you’ll want to get your feet wet with a rowing-themed fitness routine that supports and strengthens the specific muscle groups you’ll be engaging.

Oar-oriented sports require a powerful back, arms, shoulders, and core. The repetitive nature of rowing can quickly cause fatigue and burnout without a fitness program focused on building endurance in the upper body, as well as cardiovascular stamina.

Whether you’re an avid kayaker, canoer, paddle boarder, or are wanting to test the waters for the first time, the following fitness routine can help you enjoy water sports without unneeded aches and pains. You’ll need a free weight, a sturdy chair, and a larger pillow you don’t mind standing on. If you own a Bosu ball, use that instead for the high knees exercise. The pillow is simply an inexpensive alternative to the Bosu. Aim to include these exercises into your current workout routine two to three days each week.

  • Begin on your belly with the arms extended out in front of the body.

  • Inhale, lifting the torso, head, and arms from the floor. Hold here for one count then pull the elbows back toward the ribs, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Stay in this position for two counts before releasing back down to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

  • Bring out your chair for this exercise. The higher the chair, the easier this will be. For a greater challenge, stick with a standard-height chair of standard height.

  • Sit toward the edge of your chair with both feet flat on the floor. Your shoulders are back, gaze is forward, the hands are clasped in front of the chest, and both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.

  • Lift the right leg slightly off the floor. Push through your left heel to stand. Depending on your balance abilities, you have two options: For more stability, lower the lifted foot then sit down and repeat. Or, to really test your balance, keep the leg elevated and slowly hinge back at the hips to sit back down. Repeat five times on each side.

  • With a single weight in your hands, start by standing on your pillow with the feet hip-width apart. Pick a weight that is a little heavier, since you will be using two hands to move it. As an example, if you normally use a 10-pound weight for shoulder presses, try a 12- or 15-pound weight.

  • Lift the weight overhead so the hands are aligned above the shoulders and the shoulders are stacked over the hips.

  • Simultaneously lower the weight down and lift the right leg up so they almost touch. Squeeze the abs for two counts then release the arms back up and leg down. Repeat on the left leg. Continue alternating for 20 counts (10 per side). To boost the challenge and your balance skills, hold that single-leg squeeze stance for five seconds (rather than two counts).

  • Use your chair for support by propping your right hand and knee on its surface. If your chair isn’t wide enough, try from a bench or another flat surface of similar height. The left leg is extended diagonally back to brace the body. Hold a weight in the left hand and let the arm dangle directly beneath the shoulder. Your head is inline with the spine and the core muscles are engaged.

  • Keep the torso steady as you pull your weight up toward the ribs. Squeeze the shoulder blade for two counts then release the weight back down. Repeat for a total of 12 repetitions then switch sides. When choosing a weight, pick one that provides enough challenge to be hard by the last two reps. You shouldn’t feel as though the weight is pulling you down, or compromises proper form.