Why Runners Should Use Rowing to Gain Muscle Strength and Endurance

Pete Donohoe

If you’re looking for a way to diversify your training and improve your marathon time, rowing is a great way to do so by building muscle strength. It’s the competitive edge you’ve been looking for. Better yet, with your Hydrow indoor rowing machine you can workout anywhere from the comfort of home — even in seasons with challenging weather conditions. Hydrow’s Live Outdoor Reality workouts, put you on beautiful waterways around the world like London, Scotland, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and many other #HydrowDestinations. So, if marathons aren’t taking you to these locations, Hydrow can — every single day. 

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Hydrow’s Strength and Movement Specialist, two-time Olympian and former track and field star, Peter Donohoe, shares his experience adding rowing to his cross training program. Not only does it target 86% of muscles, this low impact high efficiency workout is especially effective for competitive runners. Here’s what he had to share: 

“In my many years as a runner, sprinter and jumper, I learned the value of diversity in my training program. Recovery days are just as important as hard training days and supplementing running workouts with strength, mobility and even a bike ride, helped me come to the track stronger and without injury. 

Changing my movements provided a different training stimulus which not only helped with running recovery, it also built strength in areas that were not as well trained. More of the same movement is not the best strategy for improving performance. Diversity in your training environment is the best path for improving performance.

As I was considering other ways to stay in shape after my Olympic career, I stumbled upon rowing. I was managing a nagging achilles tendon injury and the opportunity to do a sport that was challenging with low impact was very appealing.” 

And that initial appeal turned into an absolute belief. Now, as Hydrow’s Strength and Movement Specialist, Peter wants to share the many benefits of rowing for runners: 

Rowing builds legs, hips, core and arms muscle strength.

- Many runners don’t train their upper body or core enough.

- Distance runners can often have weak glutes. Rowing can support better glute function and strength because of the movements the exercise provides. 

- Proper rowing form will develop a stronger core. A strong core is a must for runners. It’s the link that supports efficient and effective running speed.

Rowing can build stability.

- The more stable you are during a run, the more efficient your running output is. 

- Stability also helps maintain a solid connection to your center of gravity and keep you upright — a key performance improver. 

Rowing is a low impact way to gain muscle strength.

- Runners can experience pain and injury from the impact of hard surfaces.

- New runners can fall into the “too much too soon” trap.

- Overuse or incorrect use of joints increases the risk of injury.

- If your running form is compromised from fatigue, you’re at risk of injury.

- Rowing builds muscle strength while giving these joints a welcome reprieve.

Rowing changes movement patterns.

- By adding rowing into your training plan, you use different muscle fibers to build strength.

- This helps improve running performance.

- The rhythm of rowing is similar to the rhythm of running — so it feels natural and familiar.

- The coordination required in rowing challenges your brain and body, so you're not only recovering from the road, you’re also helping with cognitive function. 

By adding an indoor rowing workout program to your repertoire, you can help keep your body fresh, your mind motivated, and your workout dynamic. Hydrow also offers yoga, Pilates, strength, and mobility training in addition to rowing. Interested in changing your training environment and adding diversity into your program? Hydrow is the perfect choice for competitive and casual runners. Check out our current offers, and start your journey with us today.