Supplemental High Intensity Rowing and Combat Sports

Mindith Rahmat


Women's Fitness, Yoga, Bodyweight Exercise, Kettlebells

Indoor rowing is rapidly gaining popularity among recreational and elite athletes. Rowing specific gyms and workout studios like Josh Crosby’s Indo-Row, are now popping up around the country. Rowing can provide a excellent stimulus for many athletes to train and improve their aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, as well as gain speed, power, and endurance.


New research in The Strength and Conditioning Journal examined the use of high intensity rowing in programming protocols for combat athletes, including mixed martial arts athletes and wrestlers. Researchers recommend that athletes who engage in combat sports can benefit from performing sessions of high intensity intermittent rowing. According to researchers the metabolic demands of combat sports are very similar to demands of rowing. Researchers wrote, “They share a common goal, to increase muscle buffering capacity and delay fatigue while improving power and explosiveness to maintain peak performance during competition."



crossfit, mma, combat sports, strength and conditioning, female athletes


Rowing is a much more favorable option to the traditional methods of metabolic training, because it does not overstress an athletes' body. Researchers also stated that high intensity rowing can be an excellent tool to "buffer highly acidic conditions, as well as increasing muscular endurance and enhancing oxidative capacity, can be achieved through high-intensity ergo meter training and may help prepare athletes for the high-intensity bouts experienced while fighting."


Combat sports typically consist of 3 to 5 minutes rounds or periods of activity. These rounds are short bursts of intensity with only brief periods of rest. When programming intervals for combat athletes, it is recommended that the work portion should be between 30 to 60 seconds, with a work to rest ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. Coaches can also program combination workouts that include rowing and sparring or striking, in a variety of combinations.


Coaches and trainers should experiment with programming that includes high intensity rowing as a tool for conditioning, coordination, developing power, and aerobic capacity. 

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