Lifting weights is the best way to build strength, which translates to peak power in rowing. This is a guide intended for the adult rec/masters rower looking to improve that strength (both over the offseason and as supplemental training during the rowing season.)

Philosophy Thoughts

“Better athletes are better rowers.”

In targeting the average rec/masters rower, I’m making a few basic assumptions:

  1. Time is limited. We are working adults balancing busy schedules, not varsity athletes with the time to dedicate two-a-days six days per week specifically to rowing.
  2. Further to that, we enjoy other physical activities and sports aside from lifting and erging. We want to be in good enough condition to do those things, not worn down from training.
  3. Previous lifting experience is likely limited, and that’s okay! I’ll be going through programming (what exercises, when to lift, how much to lift) as well as some technique (how to do the exercise) and safety (how to set yourself up to lift and fail safely).

Considering all of these things, I’ll be recommending a lifting routine with linear programming and compound movements to be done two days per week. I’ll unpack what these mean and why I recommend them, in reverse order.

Two Days Per Week

Lifting programs are typically split into 2, 3, or 4 days per week. I suggest two days per week because a) I think you can work hard enough during those sessions to see progress, b) hopefully you can make time in your week to hit the weights twice (on non-consecutive days) and c) I’d like you to erg at least three times per week, if not more!

Compound Barbell Movements

Keeping it simple with compound barbell movements targets multiple muscle groups, builds stabilizing core muscles, and


I use the Strong app and highly recommend it. The free version should be sufficient for your needs, although I paid for the lifetime Pro version back when it cost $10 (it now costs $130, so I don’t recommend you do that!). Other good apps I’ve heard are

  1. Stronger By Science Guides
  • Squat:
  • Bench:
  • Deadlift:
  1. Greyskull Linear Programming (the source of my)