Does extensive on-water rowing increase muscular strength and endurance?
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
The purpose of this study was to compare changes in aerobic condition, strength, and muscular endurance following 8 weeks of endurance rowing alone or in combination with weight-training. Twenty-two elite rowers were assigned to (1) rowing (n = 10, 250-270 km · week -1) or (2) rowing (n = 12, 190-210 km · week -1) plus four weight-training sessions each week. Pre and post mean and standardized effect-size (ES) differences in aerobic condition (watts at 4 mmol · L -1) and strength (isometric pull, N), prone bench-pull (6-repetition maximum, 6-RM), 5- and 30-repetition leg-press and 60-repetition seated-arm-pull (J, performed on a dynamometer) normalized by body mass and log-transformed were analysed, after adjusting for gender. The standardized differences between groups were trivial for aerobic condition (ES [±90% CI] = 0.15; ±0.28, P = 0.37) and prone bench-pull (ES = 0.27; ±0.33, P = 0.18), although a moderate positive benefit in favour of rowing only was observed for the seated-arm-pull (ES = 0.42; ±0.4, P = 0.08). Only the weight-training group improved isometric pull (12.4 ± 8.9%, P < 0.01), 5-repetition (4.0 ± 5.7%, P < 0.01) and 30-repetition (2.4 ± 5.4%, P < 0.01) leg-press. In conclusion, while gains in aerobic condition and upper-body strength were comparable to extensive endurance rowing, weight-training led to moderately greater lower-body muscular-endurance and strength gains.