With 21 undefeated regular seasons and eight official national-championship victories, Harvard crew coach Harry Parker is a legend—six of his oarsmen have competed in the past two Olympic games. Parker and athletic trainer Niki Rybko say that working crew into a long-term fitness routine helps protect the hips, knees, and ankles from wear and tear. “Plus,” Parker says, “it’s fun and refreshing to be out on the river in the fresh air and sunshine.”
“People think rowing is all arms. It’s not. Most of the stroke’s explosive power comes from the legs.”
Up and Away
Jump squats, box jumps, and stadium stairs work the fast-twitch muscle fibers needed for speed.
Off the Water
“Rowing requires a combination of muscle endurance, aerobic endurance, and quite a bit of power,” Parker says. Developing the legs, butt, and back muscles will produce a better stroke. Focus on bodyweight exercises such as jumps, squats, push-ups, and step-ups—and do crunches, leg lifts, hip lifts, planks, bridges, bird dogs, and V-ups three to four times a week.
Take It Indoors
Build muscle memory by using an ergometer, varying steady-state workouts with more-intense intervals.
$95 for an intro session, communityrowing.org.
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Check out “Home Team Workouts” to find out how other college teams in Boston get fit.