Anyone who competes in a sport that requires a measure of endurance should read this article from October 16. Esther Lofgren, an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, discusses her training regimen and nutritional habits. Rowing is one of the most physically intensive of sports and injuries are a very real threat. Ms. Lofgren follows a training and nutrition protocol designed to get her into optimum physical condition for races while at the same time preventing injury. Even “weekend warriors” could learn from her routine.
Ms. Lofgren describes the first 45 seconds of a rowing race as a power lifting contest followed by five minutes of racing. The power lifting is required to get the boat moving from a dead stop. Strategy and technique take over from there. It takes an incredible amount of endurance and willpower to keep pushing through the pain.
The movement required in rowing puts an extreme amount of stress on the legs (especially the quads), back and arms. Rowers build those muscles simple by rowing, which they certainly spend a lot of time doing. As Ms. Lofgren describes in the interview, she spends a lot of her time in the gym working on the opposing muscles to balance out her physique and help her prevent injury.
For example, the rowing motion is a pulling motion. Therefore, she does a lot of bench pressing, which works her chest. She explains that working her body in this way helps her to perform better and makes her less prone to injury.
She also discusses the importance of core work. Rowers commonly suffer stress fractures to the ribs. Having a strong core, including strong lower back muscles, helps prevent these types of injuries. She explains that Olympic rowers do two to four core training circuits a week to build their core muscles.
Finally, she discusses her nutritional habits. At the peak of her season she eats upwards of 7,000 calories per day. She follows the “paleo,” or “caveman,” diet for the most part. The diet consists of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats. It is hard to get that much food into her system, so there are times where she cheats with some ice cream.
This interview provides some real insight into the lifestyle and mindset of a top athlete. Rowing is an endurance sport. Rowers require good technique and strength in their quads, back and arms. However, in order to stay in the boat, rowers need to balance out their bodies in the gym and eat in a way that provides the fuel that their bodies need.