“YOU CAN’T ROW AND HOPE…”


You can’t row and hope.” A great man once said.

I use this quote often with my athletes. Every time I use it, I ask them where it came from. I still have not gotten an answer.

Do you know? (Special prize to the first that emails me)

This quote carries a lot of meaning in the sport of rowing. Simply put – you can’t go out on the water hoping that you will win if you have not done all you possibly can.

I believe this quote applies to strength and conditioning and rowing. Rowers and scullers that refuse to train for strength will be at the mercy of the athlete who does train for strength.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my Masters athletes was, “What good is lifting weights when there is six miles of open water to row on…” Fine words from a fine athlete. However, this athlete no longer competes at a high level.

Rowing is an “Aerobic” Sport

My experience as a rower and sculler has taught me that you just cannot go fast if you never train fast. Athletes must follow an organized training program that will build their aerobic capacity and aerobic power over time to peak at their particular event. However, how do rowers and their coaches project speed if they have never physically raced at that speed?

Many young athletes begin with raw strength and power. There is a definitely a genetic advantage to the former football player that decides to pick up an oar and race against you. Give that athlete time to put in some aerobic capacity training and you might be in trouble.

I was at a disadvantage. I gravitated towards rowing because I came from another aerobic sport – cross-country running. I was blessed with the lungs and patience to race the full 2k distance multiple times, however if you put me on the rowing ergometer against some of my bigger, stronger teammates, I would usually lose. If a training session called for 6K test or Hour of Power then I usually could come out on top…

…but the Olympic racing distance is 2000 meters.

In 2005, I lost to my younger brother on a 90 second erg piece. He is 6’6” and can probably still dunk a basketball. As we began the ergometer piece, he went out way too fast. I purposely would bide my time, so I could level him with my sprint. As the clock ticked down, I realized I was going to run out of race course. He defeated me in my prime…

Did he go to the Olympic Trials? No, but I would never have the power that he had.

Unless I trained for it.

There is no time to lift weights

There is not enough focus on strength and conditioning in the United States specifically for rowing athletes. I am not writing about “CrossFit”. There is definitely a place for CrossFit in the world of fitness. Athletes like Erin Cafaro were successful with CrossFit because they found brilliant coaches like Kelly Starrett and Brian MacKenzie to train them individually and correctly.

Every collegiate athlete that I have ever worked with said that their rowing coach did not have time for lifting weights or did not “believe” in it. The strength and conditioning coach at their college or university did not understand the sport of rowing.

Is this really true?

There is no time to program strength and conditioning for your athletes?

I learned everything backwards. I was a  competitive rower  at the end of my rowing career that became a strength and conditioning coach. As a CSCS*D through the National Strength and Conditioning Association I have the ability to train athletes in any sport. I understand how the body moves and how weight lifting affects it. I do not claim to know more about football, basketball, baseball than people who play them competitively.

I do understand rowing.

I know that successful rowers are strong. Athletes like the Sinkovic brothers and Olena Buryak train for months to build large aerobic capacities to travel fast over 2000 meters. Multiple times. Do they also do strength training? If they do, you better get cracking…

Diagrams show that a rowing race is mostly aerobic.

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“Energy Systems in a six-minute race”

That is true…provided that all the athletes in the race can produce the same speed and have similar aerobic capacities. An 2000 meter Olympic race is basically a  “drag race” to see which athlete can maintain their racing speed  and cadence and outlast the competition. That requires Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Power.

However, when you watch a 2000 meter high school or collegiate race, it is more like watching a prize fight. Some boats start out fast,  and some boats cannot even get off the line with everyone else. Usually a winning boat requires one or two “moves” to knock out other boats. That requires Peak Power and Anaerobic Power.

To improve Peak Power and Anaerobic Power you have to do strength training.

Mobility, stability, flexibility, and strength  for rowers is just a “fad”

Volker Nolte published Rowing Faster in 2005. It is a must have for all rowing coaches.

Rowers must be able to do three things:

  1. Start fast
  2. Maintain
  3. Finish Faster

Ed McNeely, who wrote a fantastic blog on Peak Power contributed the chapter on strength. It’s on page 87, Chapter 8:

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It’s in the Second Edition (2011) as well! Chapter 12, page 163:

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The data he provides is simple:

There are three lifts that each racing class must be proficient at – Deadlift, Bench Pull, and Squat.  Basically  a “Hinge”, “Pull”, and “Squat” exercise.

And for each lift he provides the recommended standards at each level.

Coaches may argue that athletes that they have trained as rowers were successful without having reached those physical goals.

That is wonderful…those athletes are the exception.

Whether I was an elite rowing coach or Masters coach,  I  would want make sure that my athletes had all the tools for competing in their racing class.  Our athletes should be proficient in all of these lifts, and close to the recommended standards if they want to be successful in this sport.

It was true over 10 years ago, and it is still true today.

 Get Screened or Get injured

Before putting weights in your athletes’ hands, have they been examined by a fitness professional or physical therapist to make sure there are no underling physical issues?

In November, I wrote an article for Rowing Recruiting about the “Next Evolution” in rowing training. In the article, I interviewed some top, well respected, and qualified coaches that felt that coaches need to take a step back when it comes to  implementing their training programs.

It isn’t really an evolution. It is more bringing awareness to coaches that if their athletes are not being screened at a young age then a “specialized” training program may be sending down the road for poor performance and potential injury.

Building a solid foundation of mobility, stability, and flexibility for our athletes will allow a coach to successfully implement  a strength training program. Athletes will get stronger, and will less likely get injured.

Collegiate coaches need to decide if their goal is to win races or develop athletes that may have a future at the national, World Championship, or Olympic level.

If  athletes continue to focus just on Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Power, then they will continue to manage rowing slower than their opponents for a long period of time.

Moral of the Story

The 2015 USRowing Convention was full of smart, capable coaches. Here are a few questions for them:

  1. Will all coaches ever get together and decide a single training standard for the United States and follow through?
  2. Why are our athletes – from high school up to Olympic hopefuls – spending so much time on the water and not any time in the weight room?
  3. Are all of them able to Squat, Bench Pull, and Deadlift well?
  4. Or will they wait until after selection to focus on this?

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Until then, athletes will continue to be left figuring these things out on their own.

 

"Hope..."

“’You can’t row and hope.’ Row and hope. All we did was row and hope…”

For more information on Strength and Conditioning for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® follow my blog or like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

References

Nolte, Volker (2005). Rowing Faster (2nd Edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, Inc. Ed McNeely, “Building Strength”. pg. 89, Chapter 8.

Nolte, Volker (2011). Rowing Faster (2nd Edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, Inc. Ed McNeely, “Training for Strength”. pg. 165, Chapter 12.

Davenport, Michael (2000). USRowing’s Coaching Education: Candidate’s Manual, Level II. Church Hill, MD: SportWork. “Training, Conditioning, and Nutrition.” pg. 102. Chapter 7.

Rowing Recruiting, Next Evolution in Rowing Training, November 2015

 

6 TRUTHS OF ACCOUNTABILITY

One of my greatest strengths is holding myself accountable for what I do as a fitness professional. It might be easy to make excuses for not completing something, however as I have gotten older I realize there really are not any good excuses.

I admit, I still struggle with this with my clients sometimes because I really want to be source of strength for them. I do not want to be just another person in their lives telling them what they are not doing.

Today is not that day. Today I would like you to hold yourself accountable.

Here are 6 Truths of Accountability:

1.  “BELIEVE IN YOUR MISSION”

What is your mission? It is one thing to tell everyone you are going to lose weight, you are going start exercising, you are going to win the Olympics. It is another thing to actually believe it. Do you believe what you are selling to yourself?

There are many distractions and doubts that will cause you to no longer believe in your mission or change it. There are people in your life that may not believe the same things that you do.  There is no reason to change your mission. If you are passionate about it, then you need to do everything to complete it.

The truths below are going to  help you do this.

2. “DO YOUR RESEARCH”

Once you have decided on your mission it is time to see if it is actually possible. Most likely, it is possible. There are always windows of opportunity; you just need to take them. Do your research and find how much work is required to complete it. Ask the experts. Get a few opinions. Ultimately it is up to you which path you take, and this is the time to weigh all the conditions.

Remember you cannot do this alone.

3. “BUILD YOUR SUPPORT”

You do not have to do this yourself. It is okay to share with people what you want to accomplish. It is also okay to ask for help. From the experts to your closest friends and family, everyone will take on a role during your mission. I do not understand clients and athletes that insist on doing it alone. I understand there is satisfaction in being able to say “I did it by myself, and no one else helped me!” Yet, when you turn around to celebrate your accomplishment there will not be anyone to celebrate it with.

Build your “fan base” so you can share your success.

4. “ENJOY THE PROCESS”

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Your mission may be a little out of your reach. It is nice when you can achieve things easily and in a short amount of time. However, most missions a take some time, and the journey may be delayed or stalled for some unseen reason. That is the time to take a look around and see how far you traveled! Remember why you are doing this and who you are this doing for.

Then turn back around and keep going.

5. WELCOME THE CHALLENGE!

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It is not easy. It shouldn’t be easy. If there were not any obstacles, then the journey would not be worth it. The most frustrating thing that I hear from clients and athletes today is, “This is too much work.” What ever happened to your EDGE? We are the greatest species on the planet because of our resourcefulness, our ability to choose, and our versatility. Our ability to adapt is one our greatest strengths; if we are not utilizing our abilities as human beings then how can we call ourselves great?

All of us have the ability to accomplish the mission; just at different times.

6.  “GO AT YOUR PACE”

Everyone should go at their own pace. Some of us can explode right out of the gates and accomplish great things in a short amount of time. Some of us need more time. In the end, we all reach the same place, therefore it does not matter how we get there. During our research, we develop a plan and follow it. Our support system will be there along the way and we will have time to enjoy it.

Everyone’s journey is unique.

Moral of the Story

I have been stewing about this blog all week.

Writing is challenging for me, but since I started this blog it has gotten easier. My biggest challenge is saying what I want to say.

I was finally able to write today because of what happened to someone I cared about…

They did not believe in themselves…

It drives me crazy. In this instance, the person had doubts because someone who did not support them told them they were failing.

What right does someone have to tell you you are failing  at your own mission?

My athletes want to see success now. They want to be fast now. Mostly because they see other athletes that are currently having success in training and competition.

Keep in mind that those individuals decided their mission a long time ago. They did their research and have built the necessary support system around them. They are now finally enjoying the process and have settled into their pace.

That is what makes it seem so easy from the outside. They have found balance between the challenges of their mission and their ability to reach their goals.

Stop.

Look down. The starting line is at your feet, and you are just beginning your mission.

Look ahead.

The finish line is there in front of you.

Take these 6 Truths of Accountability with you as you begin your journey…

I am right there with you.

For more information on training programs for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells or athletic consulting with AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

WHICH ERG SCREEN ARE YOU?

 

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THE ERG SCREEN

The Concept II Rowing Machine or “Erg” has come a long way since I was in college. Since the Model “D” was introduced, owners have had the luxury of using the PM3, PM4, and now PM5 monitors. If you are new to indoor rowing, here are some of the screens we used to have to stare at:

pm1

PM1 – For the Model “B”

pm2

PM2 – For the Model “C”

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Bicycle Speedometer – For the Model “A”

 

 

 

 

 

The newer PM4 gives you access to a ton of training data, record results with a log card, as well the option to play the Fish Game (which I hate, but that is another story).

"The Fish Game...ugh"

“The Fish Game…ugh”

Usually, your coach will determine which screen you will use during a workout. It is important to them because they want to monitor and record your training data as you complete the workout.

It is your choice as well, because you want to get the most out your workout. The data will always be there in the end, therefore maybe it is time for you to explore which screen you might choose to get the best result.

PROCESS COMMUNICATION MODEL®

"Yes, you do..."

“Yes, you do…”

I have many athletes that use the indoor rowing machine that hate it.

One of the main reasons they hate it is because they have to stare at the screen every single stroke. This past month, I explored “2k Anxiety” and how to overcome it. Using the AthleteDISC profile allows you to become aware of your behavior and have the ability to change it to yield a positive result.

The Process Communication Model® digs a little deeper. It gives you further insight on your personality and why you make the choices you make.

In November, I wrote about my daughter and the Process Communication Model® . As a PCM Certified Trainer, I find Athletic Profiling has been very useful to my athletes and I because we are able to understand and control all the variables.

We can also eliminate the variables that don’t matter.

CHOOSE YOUR SCREEN

Which erg screen are you? There are 5 options on the current PM3, PM4, and PM5 models. Let’s review the six personality types and which screen the pure personality type may choose.

THE STANDARD SCREEN – Persister

"Straight shooter here..."

“Straight shooter here…”

The Persister personality type will choose the standard screen for two reasons:

#1 This is the screen that most coaches will choose. It is also the screen you will see at most indoor rowing competitions.

#2 It gives them just enough data.

Persisters insist on doing what is right. Assisting their coach and helping the team is the #1 priority. Even if they do not enjoy using this screen, they want to follow the program. Having too much data is okay, however the Persister would just rather focus on one or two pieces of information – the average split, meters, or stroke rate. Persisters would like the entire team to use the same screen.

THE DATA SCREEN – Thinker

"Where is my HR monitor strap?"

“Where is my HR monitor strap?”

The Thinker personality type needs more information. The fact that the data screen allows them to see it all in one place is even better. As a strong thinker AND persister, I could go either way. It all depends on how important the workout is to me. Allow your Thinkers to absorb all the data they need because the sixth 500 meter split is just as important as the last 500 meter split.

They will also be able to predict and provide you the mean average deviation of the team’s average 500 meters compared to the 5k you did 2 years ago on that rainy day in April…just because!

THE FORCE CURVE SCREEN – Imaginer

"Too much legs at the front end, let's try..."

“Hmm..Too much legs at the front end…”

The Imaginer personality type is okay with data. However, rowing is about how the boat and the athletes move together. Imaginers would rather focus on the rhythm and pace of their piece.

"New Age Philosophy Major"

“New Age Philosophy Major”

The force curve screen is perfect for them because they will be able to focus on what their stroke looks and feels like so they can optimize it. Meanwhile the coach STILL can see the data that is important. Imaginers understand they need to go fast, however too much information and distraction may overwhelm them. Provide your Imaginers with the “ideal” curve and give them time and space to figure out how to create it.  I have been exploring my Imaginer side for the last 3 to 4 years. I enjoy training alone now, and I enjoy dissecting every stroke. The split is not so important.

THE PACE BOAT SCREEN – Promoter

"I TOTALLY got this..."

“I TOTALLY got this…”

Why don’t more athletes or coaches use the pace boat screen? The Promoter personality type says, “I race better on the water because I’m racing another boat.”

Give them what they want. Just because you want them to focus on pacing themselves or fixing their technique will not change the fact that you want them to race and pull a personal best on their next test. Set the pace boat. Maybe not at their goal pace, but a little bit slower, so they know they can win. Promoters want to win and be the best. Get out of their way and let them do their thing.

I use the pace boat screen a lot now with my athletes. It makes it easy to set attainable goals within the session. As a current Promoter, I want results out of every training session.

Race plans should be loose, because athletes can adapt on the fly. Even if they are behind with 300 meters to go, you may witness the most epic sprint because THAT’S WHAT THEY DO!

THE WATTS SCREEN  – Rebel

"Just Because..."

“Just Because…”

Data, Racing, Force Curves…um, it all sounds good, but your Rebel personality type will just choose the Watts screen that is left because they want to be different.

Rebels will get the job done, but if you force them to do things your way or the team’s way then you might run into trouble. Offer them the Watts screen first and they may just laugh.

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“Coach, how am I going to know how fast I am pulling?” And they will choose another screen.

Having playful contact with my Rebels allows me to step outside the seriousness of training because I need to remember training is fun!

They may just surprise you. Rebels are creative you know. If you have a set race plan, give them the space to be creative. They may come up with the next new pacing strategy strictly off of Watts.

THE MAJORITY – Harmonizer

The Harmonizer personality type will choose the majority. It is important to do what the team wants and be supportive. Harmonizers will not rock the boat, and will make sure everyone is on the same page. If a Harmonizer is sitting next to a Rebel then you may have two athletes using the Watts screen because the Harmonizer doesn’t want anyone to feel left out.

"YOLO..."

“YOLO…”

I will always support that, even if it means the Harmonizer doesn’t do as well on their test.  Creating team culture is sometimes more important than the training sessions.  Harmonizers also want to be healthy and strong so doing “calorie” workouts are a great way to shake things up for them.

DOES THIS APPLY TO OTHER CARDIO MACHINES?

"What do you gravitate towards?"

“What do you gravitate towards?”

Absolutely! A treadmill or elliptical machine has all the same data, so what information to you prefer to stare at for the duration of your workout?

MORAL OF THE STORY

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Which erg screen are you?

As an athlete, you should go with your gut. Which screen do you WANT to use? Have you ever considered using it?

As a coach, are you okay with allowing athletes to choose their screen? In the end you are still getting the data you need.

Every athlete understands that on the water they do not have control of what they see and hear. However, if you want to build confidence and get the best performance out of each of your athletes then maybe it is time for you to shift the way you think?

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Are you ready Leo Young?

What do you say coach?

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“Aki Kurose Middle School 10-min indoor relay World Record, Dec 2011”

For more information on training programs for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, DISC, and Process Communication like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

Last chance to check out the DISC2K – Philadelphia Seminar on January 9th, 2016!

Online consulting and Skype sessions also available.