Matthew Wells and Stephen Rowbotham Olympic Success – Rowing Workouts

Amongst the British medal winners of the Beijing Olympics are Matthew Wells and Stephen Rowbotham, who row together in the Men’s double scull. The pair only joined forces last year. Rowing is one of the most intensive events in the Olympics, few events seem to exhaust the competitors to the extent that rowing does. Rowbotham and Wells rowed incredibly well, but missed out on silver by a fraction, just 0.05 seconds – they were in second place behind Australia’s David Crawshay and Scott Brennan until the last few metres, but were passed by Estonia.

“It was very disappointing not to get the gold, extremely disappointing not to get the silver but you never pass up an Olympic medal. I’m just delighted,” said Rowbotham.

Wells added: “In that last couple of strokes I thought we had it but I’m really pleased to have come away with something.”

Rowing Workouts:

There are few exercises that provide such an intense cardiovascular workout. Rowing is unusual in that it is a pulling exercise, whereas most sports involve pushing. Rowing works all of the major muscle groups. Each major action involved in rowing works a muscle group. One of the great advantage of rowing as a form of exercise is that only a rowing machine is required. Swimmers and sprinters need water and space to train, but rowers need only enough space for a quality rowing machine.


During rowing the abdomen and upper legs are worked during the catch. Arms, back, shoulders and abdomen are worked during the pull. Finally, during the release, you work your legs, your hips, your upper body and your back. Because the action of rowing is technically a single fluid movement, rowing workouts are relatively gentle on the joints.

A good rowing workout should adopt a high intensity interval training approach (HIIT). Rowers need to have a perfect combination of strength, speed, muscular endurance and cardio fitness. The requirements of a rower in a fitness sense are not too different from that of a 400m or 800m sprinter. A strong steady pace is required, followed by a high intensity sprint finish. The follow workout is designed to be spread over a week, training on three days. Ideal for busy people.

Rowing Workout 1:

10 x 250m sprints with 30 seconds recovery after each set. To improve muscular endurance, reduce recovery times, and increase intensity.

Rowing Workout 2:

30 min row maintaining form and rhythm, aiming to complete 8000m in a set time.

Rowing Workout 3:

This is an interval training approach, which works like a weight training pyramid workout. Start out steady, with the aim to increase speed on the final two sets. Ideally the last 500m and 250m rows should finish with maximum “sprint”.

  • 250m row with 1 min recovery
  • 500m row with 1 min recovery
  • 750m row with 1 min recovery
  • 1000m row with 1 min recovery
  • 750m row with 1 min recovery
  • 500m row with 1 min recovery
  • 250m row finish.

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