At Shoreham Rowing Club we tend to spend the majority of our indoor training time either on the ergo, or doing circuits or weights. It is also true that the majority of us have room for improvement in our technique on the rowing machines, that we could complete our circuits more effectively and that we are not necessarily lifting the best weights in order to improve our boat speed.

This page provides an overview of each of the three indoor training methods we use and shows how to improve your performance in each area.

Ergo Technique

I think that the below video is an excellent examination of good ergo technique, it also shows the most common pitfalls and demonstrates these, this should help you to understand where you are doing things correctly and where there might be room to make changes:



Circuits are a great way to improve your strength and to work up toning the muscles required in a rowing boat. However as with everything in life, you only get out what you put in. Jumping up and down limply when asked to complete a burpee, or stopping half way through a plank because it is starting to hurt is not going to help you progress or improve. Here is a list of valid exercises which could form part of a balanced circuit session.

Core Circuits

This video should some great beginner core circuits, below I have listed some other general core circuits and given a brief explanation where necessary.

This video shows some more core exercises concentrating on the fit ball, these are slightly harder than those above.


  • Planking – Front planks, and side planks are both valid – variations and versions with added movement or single leg, arm etc.
  • Crunches – Lying flat on your back with fingers lightly touching the head, knees bent. Bring the shoulders up towards the pelvis. This can be made easier or more difficult by changing the position of the knees. Flatter legs make the crunches harder, and for an even higher level of difficulty move them at the same time.
  • Sit ups – similar to the crunch but with a full movement of the upper body. All parts of the back down to the buttocks should be raised off the floor.
  • Down hill ski – Using the fit ball. Lying face down with calves on the ball in a press up position. Bring the knees into the chest towards one side then the other.


Power and Dynamic Circuits

  • Burpees – Burpess are an excellent exercise for rowers – they work the legs, core and are dynamic. Start from standing, jump up and return all the way down to a crouch. Place the hands on the floor in front of you, kick your legs out behind you into a press up position. Bring the legs back in to a crouch and jump up. Repeat.
  • “Burp-up” – As per Burpees, but insert a press up.
  • In, outs – From a press up position, bring each leg into the chest in turn. Repeat quickly.
  • Press ups – we all know what these are! Make sure your body remains flat throughout.
  • Triceps Dips – Sitting up against a bench or step, legs outstretched. Place hand on the bench behind you and push yourself up lifting the buttocks from the floor.
  • Squats – Make sure that the back is straight and that the squat reflects the rowing stroke

I also found this circuit which I think is perfect for rowing, though I’ll be impressed if any of you manage to complete it… Maybe i’ll line it up for a Wednesday…



For most rowing activity, it should be sufficient to push your own body weight. There is a lot to say about lifting weights and it is very hard to correctly explain the relevant techniques here without a great deal of page space.
For the time being: Weights should really only be attempted by the over 16s and then you should start with something easy and work your way up to something heavier. As a general rule – if you can’t complete three reps of 10, it’s too heavy. Technique is also important in lifting weights, so consult your coach before trying.