In part 2 of this series of nutritional blogs we look at how we can apply what was discussed in PART 1 and work out your macros to make sure that you are hitting your weight targets without reducing your performance. If you are a lightweight athlete you can click HERE to skip to the lightweight section.

The Heavyweight Rower

This section is similar, but moving in the other direction. When weight doesn’t necessarily
 matter to the rower as they have no maximum limit, performance is much easier to achieve. The stress of making weight is gone, the lack of calories doesn’t need to be there. Getting into a maintenance level of calories for the most part of the year, then increasing calories nearing an event to really ramp up performance can be a successful plan.
Why not increase calories earlier and gain some weight in the form of muscle? The Power to weight ratio. A heavier rower will contribute to the boats depth, which will cause more drag that will need to be overcome by a greater force. To increase force without increasing bodyweight requires you to maintain bodyweight while performing strength training to increase your maximal force able to be produced.

Maintenance calories

How to work out your maintenance calories is as simple as the weight loss method, see below for the new numbers:

Sedentary: Bodyweight in lbs x 13

Moderately active: bodyweight in lbs x 14

Highly active: bodyweight in lbs x 15

Sporting highly active: bodyweight in lbs x 16

These numbers are not set in stone, and you’ll need to do a little experimenting to make sure you’re maintaining your weight. Keep these calories for 2 weeks, then change them if you need to.

How do these calories get broken down?

Protein needs:

There has been a recommendation of 0.8g per kg of bodyweight for protein, however this is MASSIVELY outdated. Recent literature suggests a largely greater amount to maintain muscle mass during a calorie deficit. These new recommendations suggest 1.2g-2.2g per kg of bodyweight for athletic populations – that’s you people that row consistently, and gym hard. 3-6 times per week.

The elite of you, who really do train a lot, and are looking to make the most anatomical adaptations in terms of performance is to really ramp that up to 2.3-3.1g per kg of FAT FREE MASS (bodyweight – weight of fat = a 75kg man with 14% body fat has 10.5kg of fat, therefore fat free mass is 64.5kg).

Therefore – a 75kg rower, training at a moderate – high level should be aiming for approximately 90 – 165g of protein = 360 – 660 calories of the 2310 aim.

An elite level rower should be aiming at approximately 148 – 200g of protein = 592 – 800 calories of the 2310 aim.


Athletic populations should consume more dietary fats than the average person, this is in the range of 30-50%. Fats aid in satiety, ensures there are suitable amounts of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients within the body. Therefore, the 75kg rower, trying to make weight would require approximately 77 – 128g of Fat, which is equal to 693 – 1155 calories. This is for both average athletic populations (more towards 30%) and an elite (more towards 50%).

Carbohydrate needs

So that just leaves carbohydrates… that’s simple. The rest of your calories are for carbohydrates!

So, the average weight for an elite rower is approximately 95kg – meaning, we have got 209 lbs x 16 (they are elite afterall) = 3344 calories, just for maintenance! Broken down into the specific needs are =

Protein = 185 - 250g (based on 15% body fat)

Fats = 111 – 185g

Carbohydrates = 170 – 401g (based on remaining calories)

Increasing performance

To increase performance, it is as simple as increasing calories by 100 every day for 1-7 days leading to a competition, this will allow you to control for more energy but also not gain excess weight. However, when leading into a competition you have to determine whether increasing calories and potentially weight will affect your performance in a positive way. Everyone is different, so this is then down to you and your requirements.

Play around with this during your training weeks and see what happens, whether increasing is good for you, or maintaining throughout is better.

Remember, calorie needs differ between person. So you need to keep track of what is happening to your body when striving for a certain goal. That way, you can adjust things accordingly. Such as increasing calories if you are losing weight too quickly or don’t have enough energy to maintain performance with the current nutritional plan.

So there you go. THAT is how you eat for rowing performance and weight management.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.