4 Factors That Can Negatively Affect Your Indoor Rowing Performance

Zoey Adrian

Written by , Health and fitness blogger on

Negative factors rowing

Indoor rowing is growing in popularity in large part because of its effectiveness as a cardio workout. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association reports that the number of people who started using indoor rowing machines increased by 20% between 2014 and 2021. More people are taking up rowing because the sport targets multiple muscle groups without negatively impacting joints, unlike other activities like running.

However, if you're getting into indoor rowing, you’ll need to do more than regular practices to improve your performance. Like any other sport, poor performance can be attributed to a number of other factors. Here's a look at a few habits you might want to stop in order to become a better rower:

Lack of recovery

Too little time to recover can have an negative impact on your rowing performance

Avoid overtraining to allow your body to recover from workouts.

Once you get interested in indoor rowing, it can be tempting to practice every single day. However, this can be counterproductive because your body needs recovery days to replenish your energy stores and repair any damaged muscles.

Instead of overtraining, you can improve your rowing skills and allow your body to recover through cross-training. Athlete James Cartwright recommends cycling because he built his endurance and enhanced his rowing development through the sport. He states that cycling allows rowers to enjoy a change in their scenery, as well. You can also boost your recovery by doing yoga, which can stretch out tense muscles and straighten your posture over time. Yoga practice is a great, low-impact alternative for your rowing rest days, especially if you want to increase your range of motion and improve your form during recovery.

Wrong nutrition

Top indoor rowing performances require a sufficient carbohydrate intake.

Don't skip meals if you're planning to push your limits with the next training.

You may be tempted to reduce your carbohydrate intake to lose weight while doing indoor rowing exercises. But if you want to take up indoor rowing as a sport, you must consume a high-carbohydrate diet to have enough energy during your training or competitions. You can start by increasing your carbohydrate intake to 10g per kilogram of body weight daily to store enough glycogen in your muscles. Aside from that, you should also avoid skipping your breakfast before your training sessions or competitions. Eating a banana, whole grain toast, or oatmeal during breakfast is recommended because these carbohydrate-rich foods can help increase your speed and boost your perceived exertion during training.

Smoking habits

Smoking leads to reduced VO2max values and a limited performance.

Quit smoking to boost your health and fitness.

Cigarette smoking can affect rowing performance by decreasing oxygen delivery to your heart, lungs, and muscles. Due to the reduced oxygen in your body, you’ll have lower physical endurance and a higher risk for injuries.

Unfortunately, quitting cold turkey can be difficult. You can start with improving health and indoor rowing performance by reducing your tobacco exposure through nicotine replacement therapy instead. The nicotine gum industry is growing fast as these gums often help you control withdrawal symptoms like irritability, restlessness, and cigarette cravings as you quit smoking. They come in different flavors and keep your mind off smoking as you slowly try to reduce your exposure to tobacco. If you're a menthol cigarette smoker, you can transition away from smoking by using cessation products that replicate the mint experience. The ZYN Wintergreen nicotine pouches provide notes of menthol and a subtle hint of sweetness while also packing an icy punch. This allows you to feel more refreshed as you discreetly manage your withdrawal symptoms. Smoking cessation is crucial, especially if you're an athlete, so if you're struggling with quitting, nicotine replacement therapy may help you stop for good.

Unsupervised use of supplements

Supplements may do more harm than good.

Be aware of side-effects when taking supplements.

Supplements are advertised as products that can improve one’s performance and health. While some supplements can be helpful for rowers, there are still plenty of products that can harm your health and your performance. In fact, a study on Acute and Chronic Performance Enhancement in Rowing revealed that taking spirulina and black currant supplements for a long time can lead to impaired effects on your performance. It is believed that spirulina can boost one’s endurance and stamina, while blackcurrant supplements can speed up the recovery process of rowers. However, the study revealed that these supplementations can hamper improvements in one’s rowing performance. It’s also worth noting that spirulina and black currant supplements have side effects like mild diarrhea and intestinal gas, so they may do more harm than good to indoor rowers.

Your indoor rowing performance can be affected by unhealthy lifestyle choices and training practices. So if you want to achieve your peak performance as a rower, you'll need to start by changing your habits to live up to your full potential.

EXR did not test any of these products. Neither do we endorse or vouch for the accuracy, effectiveness, or safety of any of the products, services, or recommendations discussed in this article.

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