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Top 3 Strength Exercises for Rowing

There are so many exercise, and variations of each one. Depending on someone's injury history, specific strengths and weaknesses, training schedule, etc., different exercises will suit different people. This article will address what the most common Top 3 are for rowers.

So here are the Top 3 strength exercises for rowing:

1. Deadlift

2. Bench Pull

3. Pullup

Now let's look at why these are the Top 3.

1. Deadlift

There are many variations, but the ideal is to use a barbell, from the floor, with a double overhand grip. Use straps if needed. This is preferred over a mixed grip, aka. an over/under grip, as it keeps the body in perfect alignment, rather than having a subtle twist.

The deadlift is key because you can get brutally strong with it. Your legs need to be strong for rowing. The deadlift technically much easier than a squat, and so can be pushed harder to get more strength gains. The stronger your legs are, the more power you can put into each stroke, getting your splits down for any given stroke rate.


The bench pull is in the Top 3 because it allows you to focus on getting a really strong back. This is essential for rowing as, not only does it make each stroke feel easier, and less fatiguing, but with the huge volume of reps that a rower goes through on an erg or on the water each week, having a strong back ensures that their body can withstand that volume of training. The bench pull is a good way of using a lot of weight, so that your back can get really strong, and it is in the same horizontal plane of motion that rowing is.

If you don't have a bench pull, or can't raise a bench on boxes to make your own (as long as it's safe), then use a bent-over row.

3. Pullup.

Ideally this is an overhand grip, as this puts the shoulder in the same position that it is in in the catch - elevated and internally rotated. Getting strong in this shoulder position will greatly help ensure that your shoulders are strong enough to cope with the volume of rowing training done outside of the gym.

Obviously, a programme would have more than these 3 exercises in it. But, unless there are individual reasons not to, it should have these Top 3 exercises in it.

If you want a programme tailored to you and your needs, then head over to the shop and buy one of the programme options to Improve Your Performance.

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