Pilates exercises for winter training

Wendy Davies suggests three exercises to strengthen your body, avoid injury and improve your rowing, whether you currently have access to the machine or not


Given the current circumstances, there’s a good chance you might be doing more bodyweight exercises and different types of cardiovascular activity compared to your normal weekly routine, putting different demands on your body. Poor technique can lead to injuries, so we’re bringing you exercises focused on increasing stability of the upper body, and promoting good knee and hip alignment for squatting and lunging. Make these exercises part of your training and you’ll be in a great place to push on when normal service resumes!

Many rowing-related injuries sustained between September and January happen during land training and are caused by poor weights technique, lack of support from the deep postural muscles in the abdomen, and poor stabilisation of the shoulder and knee joints. These exercises will help you stay injury- free and get the most out of winter training.

Exercise 1 – Plank with shoulder tap
  1. Adopt a normal plank position.
  2. Lift one hand from the floor and touch the opposite shoulder, making sure you keep your shoulder blades stable and your pelvis aligned.
  3. Repeat with the other hand.

Perform 10 reps, rest and repeat. Increase the reps and sets as you get stronger. As always, don’t sacrifice form to achieve more reps.


Increasing the challenge

  • Perform press-ups, touching the opposite shoulder after each one.
Exercise 2 – Standing single leg squat
  1. Stand on one leg, and engage the gluteal muscles on the supporting side.
  2. Slowly squat as if you were about to sit down on a chair, while making sure that your knee is aligned over your second toe. You should only go about halfway to a seated position – less if you’re finding it hard to control the movement.
  3. Return to the starting position.

Start with three sets of five reps on each leg, gradually building to 10 reps as you improve.

Increasing the challenge

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell.
  • Perform the squat while pulling on a cable cord from the side of your body.
Exercise 3 – Forward lunge
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your core engaged.
  2. Take a big step forward with one leg, keeping the knee aligned over the second toe. Taking a big step will stretch the front of the thigh on the trailing leg – great for those hip flexors!
  3. Slowly lower your hips towards the floor, keeping your body upright. Don’t allow your knee to extend beyond your toes.
  4. Then slowly push back to the starting position.

Do up to three sets of 10 reps on one leg before switching – this will help build endurance. Reduce the number of reps or sets if you find you’re losing the quality of movement.

Increasing the challenge

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • When in the lunge position, pass a kettlebell under the thigh before returning to the start position.
Without our members, we wouldn't be able to provide the guidance, support and emergency funding that we have been able to during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consider continuing to support our sport by renewing or purchasing your British Rowing membership today.

Renew Today