Do Rowers need to do an active warm-up?

It is well know that the best preparation for a training session or competition in sport is for an athlete to prepare themselves with an active warm up.

A comprehensive active warm up will increase the temperature of the body and increase blood flow to the limbs that are about to be used for the specific sport.  It will ensure that joints that are about to be used for the activity are taken through the ranges of motion that they are about to be used in and the muscles about to be used are activated in a similar way to what the sport demands.

An ideal active warm up for rowing may include;

  • 10 minutes of mild to moderate activity that increases body temperature such as stationary cycling, jogging, brisk uphill walking or stair climbing
  • active movement exercises that take the joints through a full range of motion needed for rowing and use the main muscles about to be used when rowing
  • stretches interspersed between active movement exercises to release specific tension or target flexibility deficits that an individual may have
  • a component of ergometer rowing to start getting the mind and body ready for the movement about to be performed
  • It should last 20-25min and result in the athlete reaching a stage of being ‘puffed’ but not exhausted.

HOWEVER… often a great warm up is of absolutely NO BENEFIT to the rower as the gains made are lost due to the TIMING of when it is done.

For an active warm up to be effective, the rower/s should launch their boat within 5 to 10 minutes of finishing it.  Any longer than this and the body will cool down making all of the well planned and performed active warm up a WASTE OF TIME.

We advocate that all rowers complete an active warm up but the following needs to occur for this to be effective;

  • the boat and oars should be ready to go
  • the rower should be dressed in the sports clothing they are about to use (maybe have an extra layer on to begin with that could be easily removed)
  • the rower needs to have everything they are about to take on the water ready to go (stroke coach, water bottle, nutrition, sunglasses, hat etc.)
  • the coach needs to have already conducted the briefing of the session or should do so while the warm up is being conducted

Standing around waiting for rowers to dress, equipment to be organised or coaches to finish briefing athletes results in the benefit of the warm up being lost.

If it is not logistically possible to get on the water within 5 – 10min of doing an active warm up – there is no need to waste anyone’s time.  Warm up slowly and for a longer period on the water!