The Rule of Four

You bag your warm up and jump straight to the hard strokes. Next you conveniently forget your post-row stretch. Cutting training corners may be tempting when you are in a rush but in the long run it won’t pay. Even if you are short on time, following the rule of four will give you good gains. 

4 components to training

Every training session needs four components: a warm up, a main task, a cool down, and a bit of stretching. 

Stretching and warming up have different roles. The warm up raises your body temperature and heart rate, gets blood flowing to your muscles, and brings your breathing rate up. It prepares your body for the job ahead of you. Your warm up should be dynamic and include easy rowing; light erging, jogging, or spinning if on land. Dedicate 10 to 15 minutes to warming up and break into a light sweat. Stretching involves the lengthening and relaxation of the muscles that you use in rowing. It helps to restore range of motion, improve posture, stimulate circulation, reduce soreness. The best time to improve your flexibility is right after exercise when your muscles are elastic.

How to fit it all in

To pack it all into your budgeted time slot, allow 20 minutes plus the time it takes for your main workout. Keep it simple. Incorporate a warm up period by rowing easy for 10 minutes. Include some drills too. Then, do your workout. Follow up with a 5-minute cool down period so your heart and breathing rates come down to normal. Row easy or walk for 5 minutes. After your cool down, toss in a few stretches before you hit the shower. Target the muscles that feel the tightest. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Focus on your low back, hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. 

Five minutes is enough, even a small dose is effective and you can always stretch later on when you have more time.

This article first appeared on