Rowing for Rugby Players

Rugby requires whole body aerobic fitness. To raise aerobic fitness you need to exercise the entire body. Rugby players are incorporating indoor rowing into their training regimens, because rowing uses the upper and lower body, recruiting a very large muscle mass and improving aerobic fitness levels. It’s a simple equation: time on the indoor rower equals better performance on the pitch.

Sample Workouts

Before trying these workouts, please read our liability disclaimer.

These workouts were contributed by David Williams, head strength coach for USA Rugby. Scale them as appropriate to your ability.

Workouts for Speed Training

Workout 1

3 x 8 100m row at maximum pace—40 seconds recovery between reps, 3 minutes between sets. Target pace: 1:26/500m.

Workout 2

3 x 8 10 second sprint / 10 seconds easy / 10 second sprint at maximum pace—1 minute recovery between reps, 3 minute recovery between sets. Target pace: 1:25–28/500m for sprint; sub 1:50s/500m for cruise.

Workout 3

10 x 200m rowing sprints, with 2 minutes between sprints.

Workouts for Speed Endurance

Workout 1

500m intervals—2 minute recovery between reps, do as many reps as possible and record them. Target pace: Sub 1:40/500m.

Workout 2

6 x 500m intervals—2 minute rest between reps

3 x 250m intervals—1 minute rest between reps

Target pace: Sub 1:35/500m for all six 500m intervals; sub 0:55/250m for all three 250m intervals; maintain a drop off of less than 10 seconds for both 500m and 250m.

Workout 3

Interval sessions of 50m up to 500m, increasing 50m per interval, and back down. Max pace for all reps, 1:1 work to rest ratio.

Workout for Endurance

5 x 1000m rows with 2 minutes between reps, followed by a 5000m straight row. Target pace: All 1000m reps sub 3:15/1000m.

Additional Resources