Just a Thought….Tempo on a Concept II


I’ve kind of taken to using a concept II rower from time to time as my warmup for weight training. I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to the activity, first from my high school, which is a perennial rowing powerhouse; and second from having Dr. Hagerman as my professor while at OU. Doc Hagerman, is one of the founding fathers of Exercise Physiology in this country and a long time physiologist for USA Rowing. He would often extol the benefits of rowing in his classes and while doing my warmup the other day it occurred to me that rowing might be one of the best tempo replacement activities that is very rarely ever used. Here’s some benefits to consider:

  • Rowing distributes the workload fairly evenly over the entire body….something that can’t be said for running, swimming, biking, eliptical, etc. This means that you can get similar global physiological adaptations while minimizing any local muscular fatigue.
  • Rowers tend to have the highest cardiac outputs of any athlete- indicating that the movement has the potential to produce profound physiological adaptations at the cardiopulmonary level.
  • Rowing is non-impact. This means that you can get many of the benefits of tempo running without any impact related issues like stress fractures, shin splints, etc.
  • Because of the positions of the body, the leg action in rowing appears to be a much more equal anterior:posterior chain effort distribution than cycling, stair stepping or eliptical machines. Even the upper body muscular involvement is more beneficial for runners because the lat / scapularis / rhomboid / rear delt involvement is important to enhance kinetic linking of the upper and lower body but also to minimize the quasimoto postures that have become so prevalent in today’s culture.
  • Because rowing is not even close to the kinematics of running, there’s no concern for motor confusion as could be the case with sloppy tempo running, aqua running, eliptical training, or even running simulated workouts on a bike.

Are there any positives that I’ve overlooked? Any negatives? Would you use rowing as a tempo replacement?
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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


📈Owner @AthleticLab 🏆Perf Dir @theNCCourage ⚽️Fit Coach @NorthCarolinaFC ➡️Proformance 📚Keynote Speaker & Author 📊Sport Science & Research🏃🏾‍♂️T&F 💪🏼S&C 🏋🏽‍♂️WL
Mike Young
Mike Young