Best Isometric Workouts for Rowing Training

Do isometrics belong in rowing, the ultimate power and endurance sport? We say: absolutely.

In addition to a solid base in cardio, rowing workouts should include a healthy amount of speed and strength training. So, what’s a better way of training to complement your rowing stroke? If you’re looking for the exercises that will completely exhaust those target areas (shoulders, core, biceps, triceps, back muscles, etc), then don’t forget to add these isometric exercises to your routine.

In honor of the upcoming World Rowing Championship, we’re going over what training principles rowers should focus on, plus, the best isometric exercises for rowing training.

Ready? Power 10!

Pull Up

This is an isometric take on a classic workout, but the benefits are the same: strong shoulder and back muscles for a more powerful, strong finish to your boats. The only difference is this isometric pull up is so much more low-impact.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Face the wall in a standing position
  • Hold the Activ5 in your right palm, with your elbow bent around 90°
  • Press the Activ5 into the wall and squeeze down without moving

Wall Squat

It might not seem like it, but strong legs are the key to increasing stroke power. Building leg strength increases the power of your drive because solid, powerful leg muscles transfer power more efficiently from the footplate all the way to the oar. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Squat with your back leaning against wall 
  • Place the Activ5 under your right heel
  • Slide down the wall into a squat
  • Reach your arms in front so they are parallel to the floor
  • Press your right heel into the Activ5 while squeezing your right quad
  • Repeat for the left side

Side Plank

Your core muscles are what connect your upper body muscles and lower body muscles, so a weak core will absorb any power generated from your legs to your oars – resulting in a less powerful stroke. In fact, the core takes so much load during a stroke that you should always make time for core-strengthening during training!

That’s why we love the side plank – it’s marvelous for strengthening the upper shoulders AND the core, meaning better posture for executing flawless strokes (that won’t hurt your back)!  

Here’s how to perform a side plank:

  • Starting on your left side, rest on your forearm
  • Keep your elbow directly under your shoulder
  • Place the Activ5 directly below your right hip bone
  • Lift your hips off the ground by contracting your core
  • Keep your back flat and body in a straight line
  • Press the Activ5 down as you squeeze your core muscles

French Triceps Press

You probably have your own erg training plan – but we think this classic exercise is the perfect complement to it! An overhead press is an excellent way to isolate your shoulders and triceps without further wearing down your joints. 

  • Bend your elbows 90° and lift them to eye level
  • Make a fist with your left hand
  • Place Activ5 on the bottom of your left fist with your right palm
  • Press Activ5 with your left fist and right palm as you squeeze your shoulder muscles


Of course we couldn’t leave out this workout! While dynamic strength-training works the shoulders like nothing else, a simple isometric row in chairs shouldn’t be tossed aside.  

Here’s how it’s done:

  • From a seated position, put your back up against the back of the seat
  • Place the Activ5 between the back of your seat and your right elbow 
  • Bend your elbows at a 90°
  • While squeezing your back muscles, push your elbow into the Activ5
  • Repeat on the other side


These isometric exercises are the perfect complement to any erg training program, and they’ll have you flying through splits in no time. You can always perform these isometric exercises without the Activ5, but if you want to track your strength progress, create custom workouts that work with your skill level, and enjoy gamified workouts, head on over to the nearest Apple retailer to try it yourself.

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