This is Why Kettlebell Swings are Important

Thanks to SportGraphics for great pics from the Catch the Cooper Regatta.  This time they took several action shots of each boat near the 500m mark, which is great for looking at the stroke sequence.

This is a shot from the Men’s Open Single race.  Although I am slightly offset in this frame, the blades are coming out pretty squarely at the finish this late in the race.

Sport Graphics: 2012-CC001-385.


That translates into victory, especially in longer races.  Say I got an extra 6 inches of boat run each stroke, times 240 strokes, equals about 120 feet or just over 4 lengths.  At 3 seconds per length that is about 13 seconds.  The actual margin was 17 seconds.

This is not something you can train on a rowing machine, because the connection to the water at the finish is not there, and there is no sensation of really supporting the blades’ connection to the water all the way through the finish with your core.  What does train the muscles needed to do this?  Kettlebell swings.  They help build the ability to sit in a powerful position with legs locked down fully and the core rock solid at a 30-degree angle, allowing the small muscles of the arms and upper back to continue pressure on the blade for that last half-second that is crucial to preventing the blades from popping out too early.  In a long race it makes a big difference in the run of the boat.

Now I need to work on my head position – as you can see I was tired and bobbing my melon up and down, which is 8 pounds of non-horizontal momentum and wasted energy.


2 thoughts on “This is Why Kettlebell Swings are Important

  1. Hi Scullerx, loving the blog.

    The only way I’ve found to work connection at the finish on the rowing machine is to row with your feet out of the straps – and just your heels in the cups, it’s a great drill in the scull too if you’ve never done it before, if you’re not perfectly connected all the way through you keep going, when you get it right you can row at just about full power.

    1. Great feedback Karl, yes I agree that rowing feet out on the C2 is the best way to work the finish off the water. Question – have you tried it on a dynamic erg? I prefer that as you are not braking the bodyweight at the finish, which you don’t do in the boat.

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