10 comments on “Breathing Technique for Rowing

  1. Maybe, I’m an outlier, but I tend to breathe twice per stroke. I exhale on recovery and at the end of the drive. This seems to fit with the 18-20 stroke rate for lower intensity and 30 and up for more intense efforts.

    • Hi Greg, absolutely…this is a bit of an oversimplification. I tend to breathe twice per stroke as well, one full cycle on the drive and one on the recovery, maybe with not quite as full a breath on the former. I try to get fully empty right before the catch. See you at Masters Nationals?

  2. So you are saying I am doing this wrong. I will try to pay attention to it on my erg session this afternoon because I don’t know exactly how I breathe. I am sure I exhale on the finish though, and I suspect I breathe twice per stroke.

  3. Well, I’m not sure I’m saying you are doing it wrong – everyone is different and you should find your comfort zone because that will help you perform better. Try to pay attention to how you are breathing this afternoon, and experiment with changing your breathing pattern – you may see an improvement in your length at the catch. Breathing twice per stroke is absolutely the way to go when working hard – I would just time one of your exhalations on the recovery and see if that helps you.

    • I did pay attention to it, and guess what? When I breathe twice, I exhale just before the catch and at the end of the drive, just before the finish. I also noticed that the drive is “small inhale, big exhale” and the recovery is “big inhale, small exhale”. I think it is a pretty optimal way to breathe.

  4. I have to disagree with the advice on this article. The highest load on the back is at the catch while your legs are picking up the weight of the boat or the wheel of an erg. At the finish, the abs are not supposed to be stopping the upper body swinging into the bow. Instead, the arms draw the oar or handle and stop the upper body.

    Also, exhaling activates the muscles that support the spine. Exhaling during the drive is advised (look at Volker Nolte’s ‘Rowing Faster 2nd Edition). Most rowers will star with one full breath per stroke inhaling on the recovery. As intensity increases, many will switch to two breaths per stroke. There is an exhalation during the drive followed by an inhalation and exhalation during the recovery and a quick (not full) inhalation just before the catch.

  5. I agree with Sculler x. 2 breaths – out for the catch and release. Most top scullers seem to do this. Also I advise to do it ALWAYS, so that it becomes an ingrained part of your rhythm.
    Have fun.

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