Manual for Rowing Training (Outdoor) – including breathing training and technique

This book was brought to our attention recently while attending the Henley Royal Regatta this year, and because it discusses the importance of respiration in the standards of sport medicine care, we thought we’d share a taste of the findings in the book with you, as it supports the belief that “Breath-training should have a positive effect for rowers”.

Title: Manual for Rowing Training – Technique, High Performance and Planning
Authors: D Altenburg, K Mattes, J Steinacker
Publisher: Limpert Verlag
ISBN: 978-3-7853-1828-7

This manual has been compiled by these three authors following decades of experience, together with the results of scientific research and corresponding success at international rowing championships. It is the result of their work and has been published as an overlapping, methodical guide for the performance sport training of oars men and women.

About the authors:

  • Dr Altenburg was head-coach of the German Rowing Federation from 1990 to 2007.
  • Professor Dr. Mattes is scientist for coaching and physical exercises at the University of Hamburg, Germany.
  • Professor Dr. Steinacker is internist and specialist for cardiology and sports medicine at the University of Ulm, Germany. He is also doctor of the German Rowing Federation.

The ‘Performance Physiology, Performance Analysis, Training Management’ chapter includes a section that looks at the importance of ‘Respiration and Gas-Exchange.’ It goes on to describe how the respiration and auxiliary respiratory muscles are utilised in rowing at the same time, for both breathing and for stabilising the shoulder girdle and therefore for the connection of the pulling force to the legs (and the boat),

“Hence a very close interconnection between the rowing movement and the respiration cycle can be demonstrated.”

The authors go on to explain how the inspiration on the first rowing stroke becomes impeded, due to the increased force on the oar, and why therefore the rower is forced to inhale particularly strongly between rowing strokes.

In another chapter, ‘Standards of Sport Medicine Care’, the authors address rowing and ‘Respiration’, looking at the connection between breathing and the employment of the auxiliary respiratory musculature to stabilise the pectoral girdle and the transmission of the drawing force to the legs (and boat). They explain how this is why respiratory tidal volume cannot be raised much above 70% of vital capacity during the rowing stroke, due to the limitation imposed by the effort involved in stabilising. They identify the fact that,

“With increased breathlessness, respiration has to be speeded up, thus an increased volumetric respiratory flow and with it a higher respiratory frequency.”

In summary of their findings on respiration, among other findings, the authors believe it follows therefore that:

1. “Maintaining a specific connection between breathing and movement is useful, but not always imperative.”
2. “It seems reasonable to breathe in as deeply as possible when sliding forward, and to breathe out at the finish.
3. “Breath-training should have a positive effect for rowers.”

Inspiratory Muscle Training with the POWERbreathe specifically targets your breathing muscles, strengthening them by around 30-50%, significantly improving rowing performance and helping to eliminate breathing fatigue.

Read more about how POWERbreathe could help improve your rowing performance and canoeing performance, or if you’re already using POWERbreathe then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read more about POWERbreathe for outdoor rowing on our blog.

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