Rowing Stronger – Strength Training To Maximize Rowing Performance

Rowing Stronger – Strength Training To Maximize Rowing Performance

rowing stronger strength training to maximize rowing performance book review

I have just finished reading Rowing, Stronger Strength Training to Maximize Rowing Performance by Will Ruth. My strengths are the technical aspects of rowing and programming physiological training plans. I purchased the book because I was looking for a trustworthy resource that would help me supplement my programs. Additionally, the ability to read another coach’s point of view is important to me.

Why Read This Book?

The book is about 150 pages in length. The writing is concise and efficient and does an excellent job of explaining all the different aspects that go into building strength, mobility, and other factors when it comes to gaining strength for rowing performance.

The book begins with essential terms and definitions and then quickly proceeds to periodization structure. Following this, there is a chapter on the what, why and how of strength training conditioning. I found this chapter very helpful. I will be using the resources in this section as I evaluate which exercises to use to help avoid or recover from injury. Information is presented in a logical and easy to understand manner. The tabular approach provides an efficient way to get the information you need.

Information For All Ages and Experience Level

There are also chapters on training for longer races, lightweight rowers, coxswains, masters, and juniors. The book caters to many different demographics. This content is a definite value add as some books on strength training are written in a homogeneous manner. It is important to consider context (age, experience, etc.) when planning a strength training program.

The book also contains a chapter on overtraining or under recovering. It provides information and how you might be able to get more done with less work. More is not always more, and this sections provides information on getting the most out of the minimum amount of training.

Following this, there are chapters written by quest authors such as Blake Gourley and Joe DeLeo. Gourley’s chapter focusses on mobility, while DeLeo’s chapter discusses the use of kettlebells to help build strength and performance. Both sections added value to my knowledge of coaching. I will be incorporating these concepts into the training programs I write for my clients.

Why Train For Strength and Mobility?

Strength training and mobility are essential for building performance in any athletic undertaking. Sometimes the athlete I am coaching is not strong enough to perform the correct biomechanics. This strength deficiency might take the form of imbalances in the core or elsewhere in the body. Additionally, the athlete can perform the technique because of a lack of functional range of movement.

I talk about “free” speed with my athletes and why mobility helps with that. To be able to move through the rowing stroke correctly is essential. For example, setting the forward body angle early in the recovery relies on the ability to be mobile around the hip joint. This is the relaxation portion of your stroke. Setting the upper body angle early in the recovery enhances Newton’s third law of motion and contributes to boat speed. Hence, “free speed” is gained mostly at the cost of how functionally mobile you are. If hip mobility is an issue, potential speed is lost. This book provides the tools to develop both the strength and mobility required to achieve these gains.

Mental Skills

Included in the book is a section on mental skills for rowing. I am very passionate about this aspect of coaching, and you can join my mailing list to take my self-awareness tool to evaluate where you are on this. This tool also provides worksheets to help you improve in these areas. To find out more click here.

By the end of the book, you will have learned the why and how, and are now ready to understand the template programs provided and adjust them to fit your context. This book will give you the tools to justify why you are employing a particular training plan or set of exercises and also adjust them to fit the athlete accordingly.


Whether you’re getting into the sport for the first time, or you are a seasoned veteran of the discipline, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Rowing Stronger. The author’s knowledge and passion for coaching are evident. I appreciate Coach Ruth’s leadership and contribution to our community.

In conclusion, I provide a very strong recommendation for Rowing Stronger (see what I did there?) and also recommend that you complement this book with Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew (affiliate link). When you finish, you’ll be in a far better place to be able to understand and take care of all those things in your training program that you otherwise might not give all that much attention.

There’s more to gaining performance than just rowing miles and miles on the water or the ergometer. Rowing Stronger – Strength Training To Maximize Rowing Performance might be the missing piece in your training program, highly recommended.

To follow up my review of Coach Ruth’s book, I sent him some questions to answer to provide my readers more context to the book. You can read his Q and A by clicking this link.


1 Comment

  1. […] you to a couple of articles written by strength coach Will Ruth. I have recommended his book in a previous post as a must buy if you want to learn how to periodize and strength train effectively. Here is a link […]

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