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MADskills Workshop: Rowing Fundamentals

Chances are, if you’ve been in to MADabolic more than once or twice, you’ve faced the rower (aka, the erg).  It’s an often under-utilized tool, left to gather dust in your more generic fitness centers, and one that is used incorrectly (far too often) when it is used without guidance.

While we do try to spend a decent amount of time instructing first-time users, and giving quick technical cues to our more seasoned clients, the technique is something that can never quite reach perfection, and can always be improved upon to achieve a higher level of performance.


Our intervals are intended to challenge our bodies in different ways depending on their length, the rest time, and the movement pairings for that day.  The way we (can) utilize the rower, and how our technique can further support our MAD intentions (Momentum, Anaerobic, Durability), requires a little more education than your standard crash course.

Two weekends ago, MADabolic Cville held a MADskills Workshop that focused exclusively on indoor rowing technique and fundamentals.

The workshop was led by former USRowing senior national team member, Brett Sickler.  Sickler was a 5-time member of the US Team, a gold medalist in the Women’s 8+ at the 2006 and 2007 World Rowing Championships, and a Team USA alternate for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  She is a (2005) graduate of the University of Michigan, where she returned after retiring from rowing to help coach the Wolverines to a second-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships, as well as the Big Ten Championship title.

Sickler currently lives in Charlottesville where she works as the Assistant Women’s Rowing Coach at the University of Virginia, and trains as a client at MADabolic Cville.  As you can imagine, she was a pretty clear choice to teach the movement and technique fundamentals on the erg, as it relates to our intervals.

Beginning with basic stretches, body positioning, and mechanics, everyone learned the correct sequence, angles, and power sources to best connect their power and translate it through each stroke.

Rowing Stretches

Rowing and erg technique is similar to actual on the water rowing technique mostly in the sense that it is an ongoing quest for perfection… an end point that is never truly achieved, so everyone was able to benefit from the reminders, cues, and skill practice.

At the end of the session everyone did a 500 meter timed piece, utilizing their new techniques and transferring their new habits into much faster splits.


Little did they know…it was all in time for Cardio week.


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