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Fuel Your Strength Episode 417 Building Strength for Rowing w Shane Farmer

Building Strength for Rowing w/ Shane Farmer

One of the pieces of equipment in the gym that strikes fear into people is the rowing machine. Many people consider it a piece of warm-up equipment, but it is so much more than that. When you take the time to educate yourself about not only rowing but how you can create a more well-rounded training program, the results can be magic.

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Key Takeaways

If You Are Interested in Rowing, You Should:

  1. Look at GPP Fitness from all perspectives and directions
  2. Integrate rowing into your workout routine in a way that works for you
  3. Lean on your community and coaches to help drive positive change

Changing Lives Through Rowing with Shane Farmer

Shane Farmer changed his life through rowing. He started Dark Horse Rowing to help others gain a community of others who hold them accountable, challenge their limits, and drive them to evolve and become the most robust, most incredible versions of themselves. Shane believes rowing can help make positive change and guide others to their most genuine potential.

Building Community Through Fitness

Shane doesn’t want to turn you into a rower. Instead, he wants to help non-rowers use rowing on and off the machine to stay active, move better, and have an excellent quality of life for as long as possible. One of the main pillars of Shane’s program is the hyper-local tribe and community that can be a game changer for many people.

Diversity is Key

Diversity in your movements and workouts is critical to longevity. Shane believes that we all go through seasons of which practices we enjoy. One day it may be rowing, the following strength training, etc. The key is to change and evolve in a way that keeps you passionate about your movement practice so that you can promote your longevity as best as possible. 

By finding a healthy balance of weight training, cardio, machine work, and recovery, you can create positive change and improve all of the different elements of your training. Being proactive is far better than being reactive when it comes to your health, and it’s never too late to try something new.

Are you ready to integrate a new practice, such as rowing, into your movement routine? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Exploring the parallel between rowing and CrossFit  (11:52)
  • How the pandemic affected exercise routines and the return to hyper-local community (15:15)
  • Some of the biggest strength issues and challenges you need to face to improve your rowing (26:37)
  • The importance of continual movement in your life as you progress (33:15)
  • Tips for weaving together rowing and strength training for your overall fitness and longevity (41:00)

Quotes

“People are always going to want to gravitate to tribe and community. So as long as it is available, people will gather for fitness purposes.” (18:25)

“I’m not trying to turn you into a rower. I am trying to help you use rowing as an accessory to staying fit for life.” (30:45)

“Submit yourself to the process of learning the movement. Because once it all makes sense, you’re going to find a lot more enjoyment in the workouts.” (33:26)

“There is no magic pill. There’s no ‘rowing is the greatest thing in the world; strength training is the greatest thing in the world’. They are all just a means to facilitate what the body is meant to do.” (37:04)

“We have so much knowledge at this point about what to do that the hardest thing is just choosing what we are going to do on any given day.” (45:52)

Featured on the Show

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Dark Horse Rowing

Follow Shane Farmer on Facebook | Twitter (X) | Instagram | Youtube

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Podcast production & marketing support by the team at Counterweight Creative

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Related Episodes

FYS #416: Is Muscle Anti-Aging?

FYS #411: Why You Need A Strength Training Program

FYS #409: Overcoming All Or Nothing Thinking In The Gym

Building Strength for Rowing with Shane Farmer Transcript

Steph Gaudreau
When you’re a woman over 40, who is trying to improve your strength and fuel yourself, in order to do that, you’re in the gym, you’re doing your training, and you’ve probably seen one of the pieces of equipment that strikes fear into the heart of a lot of folks. And that is the rowing machine, otherwise called the erg. Most people think of it as a piece of warmup equipment. But it is so much more than that. And on this episode of the podcast, I’m welcoming a very special guest, who’s going to be talking with me about how to build better strength to improve your efficiency in rowing, and how to work rowing into your overall fitness routine.

Steph Gaudreau
If you’re an athletic 40, something woman who loves lifting weights, challenging yourself, and doing hard shit, the Fuel Your Strength podcast is for you. You’ll learn how to eat, train and recover smarter, so you build strength and muscle, have more energy, and perform better in and out of the gym. I’m strength nutrition strategist and weightlifting coach, Steph Gaudreau. The Fuel Your Strength podcast dives into evidence-based strategies for nutrition training and recovery, and why once you’re approaching your 40s and beyond, you need to do things a little differently than you did in your 20s. We’re here to challenge the limiting industry narratives about what women can and should do in training and beyond. If that sounds good, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s go.

Steph Gaudreau
Thank you so much for being back with me on the podcast. I am so excited about this episode because I’m bringing one of my very good friends back to the show. Shane Farmer is the person I think about when I hear the term rowing. If anyone I know in my life is curious about improving their rowing technique and effectiveness, I immediately send them to Shane and his company, Dark Horse Rowing. I’ve known Shane now for about a dozen years, and I’ve seen him grow his business and really evolve as a business owner. But more importantly, as a coach who deeply cares, not just about bringing better rowing techniques to the world, but also about helping people develop their potential.

Steph Gaudreau
On this podcast episode, we’re going to be kind of covering a lot of ground. But we’re going to talk about rowing how to improve strength what are some of the common strength deficiencies that we see in people’s rowing and why their rowing technique can oftentimes suffer. We’re also going to talk about where rowing fits in with all of the other stuff that you want to do as an athletic person over 40. Namely, the strength training, you know, you need, but how do you start weaving these things together?

Steph Gaudreau
So if you’ve been a little bit shy from the cardio element, we’re going to talk about in Shane’s point of view how to bring these two things together, and ultimately get the best of both worlds. Before we go any further, of course, if you’ve been listening to this podcast and appreciating all of the content, head over and hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And if you’re watching on YouTube, hello, thank you for being here. Make sure you also hit the subscribe button and ring the bell for more notifications. What’s going on, Shane, welcome back to the podcast.

Shane Farmer
Thank you. It’s been a minute.

Steph Gaudreau
It has been seven years since you were last on this podcast.

Shane Farmer
I’m honored to be such a reliable guest that you bring me back time and time again.

Steph Gaudreau
Hey, I’m gonna I’ll put you on blast. Here’s a I’ve been I’ve been wanting to get you back on the show. We just haven’t been able to, like get our times to crossover and everything, but I never gave up.

Shane Farmer
To be fair. I think the reason that this didn’t happen sooner is I’m pretty sure last time you gave me the link to the book and I just didn’t follow through on clicking it. So it’s probably me, but it didn’t happen sooner.

Steph Gaudreau
It’s all good. You know, like we live in the same city basically. And couldn’t couldn’t manage to track each other down. But the thing that I love about our worlds is that they always seem to kind of like diverge and then come back together and diverge and come back together. And yeah, the last time you were on the podcast was May 10, 2016.

Shane Farmer
Oh, I didn’t have children then. I have two of them now.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, exactly. Well, a lot has changed but a lot is still the same. Including your passion in what you’re doing in the world, which we’ll talk about for sure. But for the dear listeners who don’t know, Shane and I know each other from where?

Shane Farmer
CrossFit

Steph Gaudreau
CrossFit, back in the day. I learned how to row poorly but still, you know learned as much rowing technique as I possibly could from you. And I say poorly because I am all a five foot three, and there is only so much you can do when your five with three but really truly every time I have a chance to hop on an ERG. I think of you and the tips that you coached us through and all the things that I learned from you and there’s, there’s a secret part of my brain that’s like Shane would be Shane would be looking at this right now. He’d be judging,

Shane Farmer
Always watching, always judging.

Steph Gaudreau
He’s watching. So, but yeah, it’s cool to have you back on the show and really talk about I think one of the cool things that’s on people’s minds now more, although it’s not anything new, which is cardio. No, yeah. Oh, that thing called cardio so I’m sure we’ll get into like strength and cardio and rowing and all that great stuff. But give the give the good listeners a little bit of your story. A little bit of your background how did you end up here with by the way this like crazy, successful YouTube channel and you know, spreading the love of rowing all over the world? What How did you get here?

Shane Farmer
Yes, I stumbled into rowing as a sport in college, I was a walk-on. The dude across the hall had been recruited and brought me out, and I fell in love. We had this magical four-year journey as a tiny collegiate team that just like happened to make it to the national championships. And even did pretty well in national championships. And so it was this kind of like Cinderella story, or, you know, if you could call it a dark horse story, I would. You know, we had like nobody that believed in us. We were too small for the school to succeed. And yet, we figured out a way. And then through that journey, he was introduced to CrossFit as our strength training in our Collegiate strength and conditioning facility.

Shane Farmer
This the early days in school five to nine, so like before, across, it was cool. We were doing it came out, didn’t have a future in rowing. And stumbled into a CrossFit gym, which just happened to be where we met Invictus. And it had been open for about six months at that point, I jumped in, and I was like, Oh, this is like CrossFit in the wild. This is cool. I’ve never seen it outside of this school, and fell in love with that really quickly competed my first year, when I fell in love with the competition aspect of it got onto the team went to the CrossFit Games, 10,11, 12, and 13. I went counted five on my hand, but that was only four years.

Shane Farmer
And then in that journey, I realized, oh, there’s a ton of rowing being used, but nobody knows how to do it. And so just kind of like hey, could I help teach some of the people in the gym, got the green light that seemed to work out. I loved it. I really enjoyed coaching and I loved helping people find a Oh call it a joy per se. I’ll call it a lack of hate for the rowing machine. That kind of became something I became passionate about started putting on my own seminars got hired but concept to the company that makes all of these. And then yeah, I guess like the rest is history became their master instructors started teaching their seminars taught my own seminars started Darkhorse started YouTube channel. And then it all just snowballed from there. And I haven’t given up since I guess. Yeah, I just have like, I refuse to quit, basically. And here we are.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, well, that is a huge part of working in the online space and be, you know, the term content creator wasn’t even a thing when we started doing what we’re doing. But that it really is, you know, what you’re doing, you’re coaching, you’re creating content, you’re really bringing that mission to the world. And it does take that it’s this sort of like that survivor tagline, right? It’s just like, Outlast, like, you just got to keep showing up, right?

Shane Farmer
It’s like a game of attrition, at least in this space. You know, like, it’s, if you’re a coach, you can afford to be a coach anywhere, you know, you can jump gyms, you can take hiatuses if you don’t see it as a career, but if you decide that this is your career, it’s like, you know, the number of people that have I have tried to kind of step into the same role that I’m in. I’ve lost I mean, I’ve lost count of the number of people who like came in very briefly, maybe they lasted a year, maybe two, the longest was like three years. And then they just kind of like fade away because it’s attrition. It’s just you have to figure it out every single day. And it always evolves. It’s never the same thing. This is not the same game that it was and we both started.

Steph Gaudreau
Hell to the no, one of my friends and sort of professors in jujitsu was asking me some questions a few years ago about how you know, how I get started on social media. And I was like, Look, you just, you know, he’s like, You must have it all figured out by now. And I was like, no, because everything continues to shift.

Shane Farmer
Every day, every single day. And you know, it’s funny because so many people like, you know, I’d love to come like shadow what you do and like, that’s amazing. Like, how did you how did you crack the code on like, YouTube? I’m like, I still haven’t cracked the code. I mean, I got to where I was just because I’m here because everybody else quit. And I just kept going. At no point have I ever had a viral hit like nobody cares. You know, it’s the thing that has like really built us. It’s just the fact that I started doing workouts and a bunch of people love to have workouts to follow along to. So like, of the things that could, if you could call them even close to viral, which I wouldn’t, those are the things that got us here. And that was like, I was like, my tertiary goal of mine was to put out those workouts. I just kind of did it. It wasn’t really the target. You know, I’m a coach, not like a cheerleader.

Steph Gaudreau
Well, I think you’re I think you’re really great at what you do. Because a coach isn’t just a cheerleader. Yes, it’s easy to cheerlead. It’s a whole different, a whole different depth and skill set to say, I know what are the things that people need the most help with in their rowing technique, like the mindset things that they stumble with, you know, just how I’m going to help athletes progress in that way that’s going to take them step by step and not overshoot where they are now and help them build longevity with this pursuit.

Steph Gaudreau
And so I think you do all that stuff really, really well. I’m curious what you think I kind of pull back and I think about my experience with the Olympic weightlifting and coaching and Olympic weightlifting and, you know, go to coach B’s house, when like, nobody was Olympic weightlifting. And how it sort of created this surge in people learning how to snatch and clean and jerk that maybe never would have experienced that. I’m curious what you think. And there what do you think the parallel is, if any, with rowing and sort of CrossFit? Did that help people get interested in rowing? Did it take that community and grow it at all and sort of it’s taken on a life of its own? What are your thoughts on that?

Shane Farmer
I would say CrossFit probably deserves a lot of credit for almost like saving, indoor rowing as a sport. I think indoor rowing was definitely it was a whimper. Before CrossFit came along. You know, it was like this, the passionate few in the world of rowing, who were rowers, and identified as rowers, who would like to come together to crush themselves on the year and race and compete. But that was just for fun. And it was because they loved rowing. But as far as the industry like buying and selling rowing machines, and people having them it was a dust collector, you know, for a lot of people. And I think it didn’t have a whole lot of respect.

Shane Farmer
So I give CrossFit a lot of credit. You know, when we first started, you could go on a Facebook marketplace and find a used rower for like 200 bucks. Now, you take a rower, use it for five years resell it for 100 bucks less than you bought it for, you know, like the mark, the used Marketplace is a reflection, I think of the popularity of indoor rowing as a result of the growth that we saw. So indoor rowing is having. I don’t know if it’s a first coming or a second, but it’s definitely having its moment in time. I think the thing that I’ve always landed on personally, is, I’ll be here, whether it’s having its moment in time or not. And I think that part is, at the end of the day, if we draw parallels to CrossFit, I think the thing that CrossFit did globally for the fitness industry, is it professionalized coaching in a way that had not been done before.

Shane Farmer
We had seen plenty of NASM ace, professional coaching certifications, spitting out personal trainers, and group fitness instructors. And that’s a that’s a job. Personal Training and group fitness is a job, you do it for a period of time until you figure out what you’re going to do with your life. Coaching though, as a career and coaching before crossing it, it feels as if it was pretty reserved for athletics, you were a coach of a specific sport, and you coach and you could make a career, I’ll be it not a great one. But you could make a career coaching a sport and you just rose the ranks through you know, a high school to a college to maybe professional, and that was kind of the way it would go. CrossFit really legitimized coaching and I give a lot of credit to that for landing where I am.

Shane Farmer
Because if it hadn’t been for that development, I never would have thought, that it could be a career. I would have been just been a guy helping people occasionally in the gym, you know, like, looking at people or you mean like, you know, excuse me, can I help? You know, your phone was terrible. And so that like to draw parallels, like CrossFit kind of changed. Modern fitness as we see it. I have to give him credit for that.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. Let’s, let’s talk about what happened in 2020. So it seemed like there were two or three kinds of camps that came out of that initial wave of everything shutting down in 2020, you had your hardcore Pelotoners. You had your people with their ERGs. And then you have people that just didn’t know what to do or couldn’t access equipment, for whatever reason? How did 2020 Change the community? How did 2020 change? Again, that sort of what was the inflection point there, if anything, were, all of a sudden it was this just this really unexpected. I don’t know the black swan kind of thing that happened.

Shane Farmer
You know that it was like, like you said it was cycling, rowing, and then people like clamoring for any piece of weight equipment they could find, you know, to have at home. Man, that’s, uh, I feel like that, in and of itself is an entire hour’s worth of podcast. Because it did a few things. You know, all of a sudden, I think people were a little bit bored, especially people with money. And they felt like it was a sure thing to just start dumping investment dollars into the space. And anybody who had a remote idea about what they wanted to do in this, like, virtual fitness space, or home fitness space, I feel like it’d be never really classified what the term was for, like a person who works out of the homework or out her, you know, like, whatever that like, ideal customer avatar is.

Shane Farmer
But all of a sudden, like investment dollars got dumped in. And so all of a sudden, like, innovation started to come into this space. But a lot of it was just attempting to capitalize on a flash-in-the-pan moment. And we’ve definitely seen the fallout of that with companies who took on huge investment dollars of sudden, like, oh, whoa, hold on, hold on, the projections that we had set are wildly inaccurate. It’s like, well, yeah, because it was a temporary thing that wasn’t gonna last forever. Granted, we didn’t know that at the time. But as far as like what happened in our space, yeah, it drew a lot of interest to rowing. I think the flash in the pan is well over at this point. It definitely, increased awareness of what we’re doing. It brought awareness to companies that were creating connected fitness in our space. And that was a new concept.

Shane Farmer
You know, I’d been doing videos on YouTube, that were really the hydro regatta they existed ahead of time. But I don’t think they had quite the same status as they did, then when, you know, COVID really took off and everybody got stuck at home. So I double-edged sword, you know, it brought some attention. But I also think it kind of blew out of proportion, the attention that there was. And now we’re settling back into, I think, a fairly hybrid model, people are always going to want to gravitate to the tribe and to the community. So as long as it’s available, people will gather for fitness purposes. And also because most people view fitness as something they have to do. And so they plunked down their dollars to somebody else to create an exchange of accountability, here’s, here’s my money, I will be accountable to you as a result of that. And so they go to a place because it creates like, a blip on the radar for that day.

Shane Farmer
That’s like I was accountable to the thing because I gave them my money. I showed up, I did it. Great. And I’m off. It’s not like a lifetime passion. So you know, we were never going to convince everybody to be incredibly passionate about their health and fitness. In a dream world. Yeah, absolutely. Everybody would take it to heart there. The onus and the ownership that’s required on a very personal level, to maintain your health and your fitness and why that’s important not just to you, but to your immediate community, you know, the 20 people that surround you closest, and how you can impact them through your food choices through your actions of just even walking, right like these things impact our community. If you live in a neighborhood where you see everybody walking, you’re probably going to be walking more, right?

Shane Farmer
If you live in a community where nobody interacts, you’re never going to leave your house, you’re going to feel closed and you’re not going to go for walks and I could do those things. So I digress. I mean, that’s why I say like, this could be a whole big thing. You know, from a tactical perspective, our channel exploded for sure. As much as the indoor growing YouTube channel can explode. But it’s certainly less pulled out and thankfully, thankfully leveled out. It was weird. Things were happening in ways that were unpredictable. And you didn’t want to invest in it too much and be like, Yes, this is the future. Because if you were smart, like you knew it wasn’t. So it was like, alright, let’s ride the wave as much as we can without jumping the shark, I guess.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I mean, I’m sure, like you said, there’s been, it probably brought some people into rowing. You know, some of those people maybe have now left the community for whatever reason, maybe they went back to their in-person gym, or they found something else that they wanted to do. But I’m sure it was a great way to create that sense of connectedness. And I think I keep hearing over and over from people, that’s the one thing that they feel is missing. And as you know, and I know, when you’re suffering together with other people in a relatively controlled environment, where your chances of dying are pretty low, there’s just something about that, that’s very powerful it is that that community doing things together, it is that accountability, it is that showing up and is that you know all those wonderful, like, yummy serotonin that we get, and just that connection, I feel like the online space through the last couple of years did its best to replicate that in some ways. And some people have sort of gone back to what they found was really helpful, which is going back to the gym, and other people are still doing things at home. So it’s interesting how it’s all settled out.

Shane Farmer
You know, the people, it feels like the company’s, people, whatever you want to call it, small businesses that really stand the test of time. And I’ve felt this for quite some time. It’s like our next iteration, like the next generation of fitness, or even just life is going to be calling back to a more local community. And really getting hyper-local in the way that we do things. I just feel like over the next 10 years, we’re going to see this serious pushback to hyper-local. And so I really believe that the companies that will exist, that will thrive are the ones who figure out how to crack the nut of like, even though we provide online, we make sure to integrate you in some way into your direct community.

Shane Farmer
Because that’s it’s just going to happen, we’ve all been online for so long, that we’re like, we know that we need to ground ourselves to the community. So like, I just feel like we’re gonna see up ticks in like trade jobs, and back to like, really local community gatherings, things like that. So that my gut tells me like, that we all need to those of us that are in the online space need to be doing as much as we can to create. I hate the word authentic because it’s so overused. Genuine integration points to somebody from somebody’s life with us, as a customer or a client member, whatever you want to call them, and what they’re doing in their life.

Shane Farmer
Like, they really don’t care about us as a thing. We can create some really cool environments for them. But at the end of the day, like we got to help them be them in their community, if that makes sense. So it feels like that’s kind of where all of this, like shakes out to end up. Over time. You know, we’re having this conversation and 10 more years. But when we finally connect again, it feels like that’s, you know, those are the conversations we’ll be having is like, what have we done to really provide that local point, that local touch point for people?

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I think that’s such a great point. And it’ll be interesting to see how that continues to evolve per our earlier conversation point, which is things that are continuing to shift. And it is those people who are willing to stay sort of true to their, the essence of who they are and what they’re passionate about, but are willing to shift in, do new things that really serve their communities, and go with those times that are the ones that are going to continue to be around.

Shane Farmer
I really envy the companies that have figured out have cracked the nut of like, how do we build small local communities of our tribe, but like, locally, you know, like you and I have been talking a whole lot about rucking in the last week, right? Like, yeah, the rucking community has become, I think, pretty powerful. And you could say, you could put a company or two in the middle of that like for facilitating a lot of that. And I think those are the groups that are going to end up having some really serious long-term impact.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, longevity too, right?

Shane Farmer
Totally.

Steph Gaudreau
Before we dive in, if you listen to this episode, and you’re like, Okay, I am ready to get to work. I want to take my strength, muscle energy, and performance and take it up a notch. I want to take it to that next level, I want to feel like a badass. But at the same time, do it in a way that works with my physiology as an athletic woman over 40 with coaching and community support, and go ahead and check out Strength Nutrition Unlocked. This is my group program, we’re going to lay out the framework for you and guide you as you implement and really customize it to all the things that you’re doing your preferences, your likes, and the places you want to go with it, then go ahead and get on board, you can start your process by submitting an application at StephGaudreau.com/apply. We would love to hear from you and see you inside the program.

Steph Gaudreau
I love it. I love this slipping picture conversation. I also would love to shift and talk about some really nerdy detailed stuff. Yeah, so I think a natural first starting point in terms of rowing. And I know I’ve got several people in my community, I can think of off the top of my head who wrote VB other people who are interested in learning how to row better, I want to learn how to row good. I just see a later moment there. They want to learn how to row better, you know, for making their workouts more efficient, or they just want to explore this a bit more from your perspective, and you have this really cool knowledge base and experience base of also being deep into strength training and knowing that world. What are some of the biggest issues slash challenges with strength that need to be brought up in order to improve your rowing?

Shane Farmer
Well, this depends on the community we’re talking about. Case in point, so right now, I wrote at the University of San Diego, how I landed in San Diego and why, you know, well, the University of San Diego isn’t why I haven’t left, but I landed here. And lately, I’ve been doing a decent amount of connecting with USD men’s rowing again through the head coach. Last week, for example, on Wednesday, I went to the weight room on campus and met with one of the athletes who has been dealing with some glute activation issues, and he’s been having some hip problems. And basically did a biomechanics session with him for an hour.

Shane Farmer
And then the next day went and actually lifted with the team in the weight room, which was super fun to like, throw it on with a bunch of 18-year-old collegiate rowers in the weight room. And so if we look at that community, and this may not be the exact question we’re asking, because I know we share communities, I think there’s a healthy amount of overlap and like the people that we talked to, but I want to dress that side, like in the world of rowing, there are immense gaps in strength. What’s required in order to be a successful rower because the historical tendencies of strength training and rowing emphasize the movement that has already been practiced. We’re doing more of the same through our strength training.

Shane Farmer
But the benefit of strength training, I feel in rowing is to offset the thing that we are doing repetitively over and over and over. One of the things one of the more common injuries in elite-level rowing is broken ribs, and it’s not from impact. It’s from athletes breaking their own ribs under pressure, meaning they create so much thoracic pressure, that over time, they create fractured rib fractures. And it obviously sets you back you can’t row if you have a you know, fractured or broken rib. The reason for that is that there’s like so little serratus anterior development in those athletes. So little trunk strength is developed through strength training because all we’re doing is trying to get them to do low, low weight high rep back squats for minutes at a time.

Shane Farmer
Why? Because that looks exactly like the running Stoke, we’re just trying to develop more quad capacity, right? Aerobic capacity under duress, like that’s what historic strength training is done. So my belief patterns come from the strength training world from having done as much as we have in this space, and understanding that we can complement what we’re doing by offsetting the weaknesses of the rowers. What don’t we do in the rowing stroke? Well, we certainly don’t push. Right, so there’s this large need to develop push strength.

Shane Farmer
We also don’t do a lot of loaded hinging, yes, the rowing stroke is a lot of hinging, right but we don’t do it under heavy load, meaning we don’t develop good trunk strength enough to be able to relay whip through the hips, we get this really good, we get really good at being like lazy in the whipping open of the hips. So we need to emphasize and try and reinforce dynamic hip opening. We also need to be able to increase trunk thickness. So I’m a big fan of heavy-loaded carrying. I love auto objects for rowers because it forces us to get a little bit boring. The dynamic and we need we do need dynamic stability and rowing because you know, our boats are V-shaped halls and they’re, you know, a foot and a half to two feet wide. So they’re very tippy, we do need dynamic stability.

Shane Farmer
But we need to do that with load with greater load. So those are my beliefs on strength training to reinforce rowing, strength training to reinforce rowing for non-rowers, a slightly different picture, right? Because when I’m talking to my, my group, your group, non-rowers in general that’s like my sweet spot. That’s what I prefer to work with are non-rowers. I’m not trying to turn you into a rower. I’m trying to help you use rowing as an accessory to staying fit for life. GPP general physical preparedness, right? So in that instance, we want to make sure we’re mitigating pure volume on the erg. And it’s kind of to the right like, everybody’s in love with zone two right now, like, it is, my YouTube homepage is filled with videos of everybody talking, I did zone two for 30 days, here’s what happened.

Shane Farmer
And so like our objective, yes, can we create a zone to where 100%, it’s a really great way of doing it, it’s a very low-risk scenario because we reduce impact, we also take gravity and fall out of the situation. So and you’re working with a, a large percentage of the body, the, there’s kind of this like 80s, I think it’s 85, or 86% of the body’s used in rowing is this number that’s thrown around, it’s totally made up. However, a large percentage of the body is used for rowing because it requires leg drive hip swing snap of the arms. So a lot is required. Along with the kinesthetic benefits, the machine doesn’t move you you have to move yourself. So what do we need, if we’re non-rower, or trying to figure out how to use the rowing machine? Number one, we have to submit ourselves to the process of education. And that can be tough to do.

Shane Farmer
But choosing to do that early on, will be far and above the most impactful thing you can do. And it doesn’t have to be this really rigid journey. You can just choose to say like I’m going to educate myself over time, but I’m going to commit to the process of educating myself. So it’s not to supplant the workouts that you want to do on the rower but it is choosing to spend eight minutes running drills that you find through a coach, because rowing is a skill movement, like you wouldn’t just throw somebody into jujitsu and be like, good luck, you know, like you, you take it a bit at a time, it’s a skill movement that has to be learned through a coach.

Shane Farmer
At this point, I think it’s fair to say I’ve coached hundreds of 1000s, if not more than a million people how to row and I’ve never seen a single person sit down in the machine and get it right, without any prior knowledge. It’s just not a natural movement. So you got to learn. So that’s the biggest, biggest thing somebody can do to set themselves up for sex success. Honestly, like, That’s it, submit yourself to the process of learning the movement. Because once it all makes sense, you’re going to you’re going to find a lot more enjoyment in the workouts. But as it exists without the education, rowing is like a mystical black box of energy, you put energy in work comes down on the backside, but you don’t really understand why how what you’re doing, you’re just kind of like throwing spaghetti at the wall, stuff gets done.

Shane Farmer
And it’s almost like zero or 100. It’s you’re in first gear, fifth gear, very few people find the middle ground. And the middle ground is what happens when you spend the time educating yourself. You’re like, Oh, got it, here’s how I get into third gear. And so I can do a much greater range of workouts and I can choose what my I can choose what the outcome is going to be of the workout on any given day because I know that I’m in control of what I’m doing. So education is your friend when it comes to this machine.

Steph Gaudreau
Well, it’s definitely speaking my language. It’s one of my core values as a human and also as a business is education. As probably the former teacher in me, but it’s so important. And you know, just to give the listeners an example from strength training, you know, purely strength training. Recently, I was talking to one of my lifters through my app, and she was talking about feeling like she just kind of stuck with her overhead press and I was like, Well, okay, that’s also like a really hard movement. Right? Pressing, pulling strength in humans is so much so much better than pushing strength, right? And just whatever, the strict press, you know, those muscles are so much smaller than your lower body.

Steph Gaudreau
Hey, it just takes a lot of practice and you could probably ask 100 People who have been lifting for, say 10 years, and they would probably the majority would probably say that the strict press is their most frustrating lift. But, you know, we talked about, you know, you could take a barbell and put it to your front rack and muscle, some amount of weight over your head. Right, but it is in those finer points of the technique. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. But to your, I think, to your point where you’re saying there has to be that education, about the efficiency, that the education about the finer points, and you continue to practice and develop that mindfully over time.

Steph Gaudreau
And that’s really what helps to continue your progression to see improvement to really set you apart from people who would just you know, I buy or sell those, see those videos at the gym, right of people rowing, like backward on the earth or just doing weird things. But yeah, that educational piece, and really, it’s almost that awareness, right? I’m gonna go in and be mindful when I do this workout or maybe it’s, you know, I know you talk a lot about grip and where our hands are like, am I overly gripping? Or is my grip too loose, and just little things like that can really translate over time?

Shane Farmer
It’s, it’s just committing to being a lifelong learner, it’s humbling yourself to any process. That which is, you know, what you do well and I think anybody that who sticks in this space does well, if you decide that fitness and it’s real, this, like, the whole discussion gets interesting, like, would you when you’re coaching somebody, are you trying to convince somebody that they need to work out for the rest of their lives? Or are you trying to convince somebody that, like, they just need to, like, find a way to, to continue moving in ways that excite them and like, keep them moving? Because that’s, that’s the important part of life.

Shane Farmer
You know, it’s like, there’s no, there’s no magic pill, there’s no, rowing isn’t the greatest thing in the world strength, trading isn’t the greatest thing in the world, like, they’re all just a means to facilitate what the body is meant to do. Like, our bodies are machines. And so just submit yourself to the process of like, agreeing with yourself, that you’re going to move in some way, shape or form for the remainder of your life. And you’re gonna go through seasons, someday you’re gonna, you’re gonna like rowing some days, you’re gonna love strength training, some days, you’re gonna love jujitsu, some days, you’re gonna love it, like, it will change and it will evolve. And what matters most is that you’re just doing something, because that’s what the human body was meant to do. And once you stopped doing anything, you know, I don’t want to say fast, but it’s a much faster path to closing the door on your life.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, it’s just things shift very quickly. And I think, you know, we used to sort of have this idea that, even if we’re looking at things like muscle mass, that it was just this nice, like sloping decline. But now, there are other models that talk about these punctuated events in life, right? So you get really sick, you have surgery, you know, you have something incredibly traumatic or stressful happen. And now, that muscle mass has just gone down pretty significantly in a fairly short amount of time. So I think we’re, we’re coming to understand that being proactive is, is far easier than being reactive when things have already gone to a certain point.

Shane Farmer
Have you heard this statistic like in something like over the age of 60, if you end up in the hospital for a broken hip, it improves, it increases your chance of death within the next year by 60%?

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, it’s a pretty significant amount.

Shane Farmer
You know, I’m probably butchering that statistic. It’s something along those lines, I believe they pulled that from PRT and probably spotted that. But I mean, it’s a stunning statistic. But if you’ve lived long enough, you’ve been around him, you’ve probably seen people who have had some kind of incident. They’re older, it seems like it’s not that big of a deal.

Shane Farmer
They end up in the hospital for a thing. And then something catastrophic, which is seemingly unrelated. Within a year’s time, you just watch them go from being like a vibrant human to like, winding down their life in like a year’s time and you’re like, what happened? Like, a year ago, they were lively and like they were full of vibrancy and like everything was great. And then they had this weird trip and fall event. And it was just like they never recovered from that.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, it’s pretty high. It’s a pretty high number, you know, we even menopause and that acceleration and things like bone loss, the balance issues that we develop in fall hazards like he brought up earlier and yeah, I think the good news is like, there are things that we can do. And so keeping people, you know, it’s, it’s one thing to get kind of like, oh, no, there’s all these really scary statistics, but also say, hey, there’s a lot that we can do.

Steph Gaudreau
And I know that earlier, we were sort of talking about, we were chatting about, you know, what kind of training we both do now and setting you were mentioning, doing a little bit less of the Metcon type workouts and a little bit more of strength training and cardio, can you tell us sort of what your approach is now personally, to weaving together these two very different forms of exercise that have distinct benefits, and what you tend to see work really well, for the people in your community, the everyday people who want to be all around fit, who want to enjoy their lives, who want to get out there with their kids or grandkids live very fully, and be very participatory in their life. And so they’re coming to fitness for that reason.

Shane Farmer
Yeah. Personally, my I kind of just have split, like strength training from aerobics and I just kind of handled the two independently at this point. As long as I feel that some of the movements that I’m choosing keep me dynamically fit enough that I can kind of throw down anytime, so that if somebody does toss me some like really gross workout that they want to do, that’s like very cross 50, I still feel good jumping into that and having fun with it.

Shane Farmer
But that’s by no means the majority, that’s like, once a month, maybe, you know, jumping into something like that. It’s just fun. Like that’s still in my soul. From like, what I’m encouraging people to do. I really liked that of just splitting apart the two, the two things like hypertrophy training, as well as just aerobic training. I do think there’s a huge demand for, like dynamic training of any kind, which is why I love like any striking sports or any combat sports, I think those things are fantastic. It’s like the one area of my life that I’ve never my life that I’ve never had ventured into. And I’ve always said like, that’s my next.

Shane Farmer
Whenever I decide that I’m ready to kind of sunset, my existing training, like, that’s where I’ll go next. Because I’ve never explored that. I don’t know what it’s like to get punched in the face. And I feel like, that’s probably something I should know. Yeah, I’m sure but you don’t you don’t know. Unless you know, right? Once you know that it doesn’t feel nice. Like you, you have a better ability to adapt and to respond to it. What I encourage people to do is to look at GPP fitness from a perspective of like, Are you receiving enough balance of all elements in the way that you train? Are you moving weight? Are you creating torque and torsion on your bones? And through your muscles?

Shane Farmer
Are you getting aerobic fitness out of it? And are you getting the blend that works for you? So you know, our like, we have an app launching December 1, it’s currently we’re going through November, right now, which is I think it’s our fifth year doing it’s super fun. We have 1000s of people doing it. And we just send out a free rolling workout every single day for the month. So the goal is like can you rope for 30 days straight? It’s a big ask, right? But a lot of people try to jump into it. December 1, our new app goes live and actually available for purchase. Right now it’s free for everybody. But in that, our primary track is a GPP track. It’s not just rowing, it’s a split of three days a week of rowing workouts two days a week of, of GPP off the machine and on the machine.

Shane Farmer
Next week, it’s two, you know, two and three, three, and two, you alternating back and forth. So that there is a healthy blend of moving weight, whether it’s body or accessory weight, and then getting on the machine. And we’ve all realized to be adding in. And this comes back to my belief that rowing is not the end all be all, it’s a great way of achieving fitness, you can see like, I’ve got a skier there. And you know, there’s a bike, there’s a biker golf screen here. But you know, all three constant chains, and like any of them are good for creating that aerobic distress of, you know, varying levels. And so are you spending time getting that aerobic distress in enough to at least maintain your aerobic capacity?

Steph Gaudreau
For sure. I appreciate you bringing that up and talking about including little bits of each of these things. And you know, I kind of think the older we get, especially the more we have to be a bit more like a Swiss Army Knife in terms of what we do. And I think that though, is where knowing what to do. And how to implement all that stuff is where people really benefit from something like your app from getting coaching, whether that’s in person or virtual of some sort. Because it is in the blending it together, which is where the experience of a coach is the experience of somebody who knows, hey, here’s how you keep yourself still humming along.

Steph Gaudreau
You’re not going to get overly trained in any one area. We’re going it mix it together, we’re gonna make it simple for you to do where your recovery and those sorts of things. So, you know, just a plug for, like, go check out the app, you know, if you’re sort of like, Yes, I hear on all these podcasts that I know I need to lift weights, and I know that an aerobic base is important. And I know I need some amount of power and plyometric work from my bones. And, but I don’t know how to do any of it. So I don’t do any of it, you know. There are so many resources.

Shane Farmer
Yeah, it’s tough to just choose what you’re gonna do. Like, I don’t know, if you, you may be struggling with this as well. But, you know, we have so much knowledge at this point about what to do that like the hardest thing is just choosing what we’re going to do on any given day. Like, right now, I’m dealing with some plantar fasciitis that I’ve had for like six months, and it’s just plaguing me. So like, every day, I am strength training in the morning, but then I can’t forget that at some point, I need to make sure that I’m doing my like activation drills to try and help and work on like my foot mobility, as well as getting into strengthening my calf to be able to support my arch.

Shane Farmer
And then at the same time, I also have my toe spacers in my bag, want to make sure I’m doing that. And then I’m also dealing with like a little bit of a sticky shoulder. So I’m also getting into mobility work on my shoulder at some point. And I also believe right now that I’m trying to improve grip steering. So I’m doing a lot of just like free hanging. So I’m spending time every day jumping on a bar and just trying to do something like greasing the groove style, where it’s like never-ending. There’s so much that you could do that your entire day could be consumed by fitness, if you let it. So, and we’re professionals in this space, like for somebody who’s not there, like just give me the answer.

Shane Farmer
Just tell me what to do, please. And that’d be that’s that’s our my my sincere hope for everybody is that they find a coach like you who’s like, who is knowledgeable. And is a career coach enough to have like no ego in it? And is just a good coach who makes good recommendations for people because it’s amazingly hard to find in the content-creator economy. Everybody is trying to advertise themselves as like, being a guru. It’s like, I don’t know if it you know, if you’re trying to be a guru on something like my flags are already raised.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, the bullshit meter is starting to pin on one side of the spectrum.

Shane Farmer
100%!

Shane Farmer
Yeah, so you have the app, what else is in the works for Dark Horse Rowing? You know, where are things going? Where do you want to direct people? If they want to know more?

Shane Farmer
Yeah, so the app definitely is we’re like, that’s priority number one, right now, DarkHorse.Movement.so, just go to DarkHorseRowing.com, and we’ll have the link there. That’ll be turned on come December 1. Or you can sign up and refer a member now on our website, DarkHorseRowing.com. But I’ve also been working on this really cool project that I’m going to be coming on as part owner of which is super exciting. And you can see the prototype is right here, you may notice that that’s not a normal size monitor for a concept, you know.

Shane Farmer
So that’s a prototype on there. But there are about 60 units out in the wild right now, that have been that are, we wrapped up beta testing just recently. That’s a new project called My Row. And it’s a 22 inch tablet, which was going which gets added on to the concept to machine and becomes a connected fitness, fitness fitness device. But because of me being who I am, it’s really important to me, that we treat it as a coaching platform, not as a connected fitness platform. And so my real big push, we just wrapped up a big, big filming block, like a month ago is that as I’m training and hiring coaches and getting coaches onto the platform that are our coaches are not group fitness instructors, that our coaches understand that their job is to be human and to coach and that we’re providing coaching in a connected way, rather than providing entertaining follow along you know what I mean?

Shane Farmer
Like I think I think that’s the, for me, that’s the distinction. The marks that I kind of want to leave on the space of connected fitness are key. Every connected fitness platform doesn’t need to be like that. Like there’s you know, there’s the ability it’s yeah, there’s a real ability to deliver value through coaching that doesn’t just turn every coach into like a DJ. You know, that’s just like creating a playlist that looks pretty, and then you can put it on camera. Like, it means something to be a coach. And developing coaches is like, probably my real passion at the end of the day.

Shane Farmer
Because through that, we know that we can have a greater impact. We know that if we develop 10, great coaches, that’s like, there’s this really great quote that I heard recently is like, for every person that you interact with, and you have a good experience with is like your soul rubbing off on to that person into some small way. And that the way that we live on isn’t through, perhaps it’s through the stories that are told, but those die off within a single generation like this, you rub off in some small way with your interaction with somebody and that passes on to the people that they get to interact with, and the people that they interact with, then pass that on to their kids into the next generation, like every little bit of interaction that you get to have with somebody is an opportunity to, to live on, write in whatever way you do through the positivity and the love that you bring into somebody’s life. So I don’t know, I guess at the end of the day, like that’s, that’s my ultimate goal with coaching is like how, how can I create positive change, so the people that you choose to come and interact with, was me and what I’m doing.

Steph Gaudreau
Damn, Shane, you got me all, like, who’s cutting onions in here? Seriously, I appreciate hearing that. And it’s so refreshing and lovely to hear from other people like yourself who have that passion in that mission and want to make that impact in that way beyond, you know, like you said, on our site, it’s you know, butt selfies and that kind of really shallow view of fitness. And I think what you’re trying to do is amazing. So as somebody who knows you as somebody who’s seen your trajectory over the years, and is continuing to, you know, have connections with your world, I think it’s really awesome. And I really appreciate that about you and admire that about you. So keep fighting the good fight. I know a business is not easy. It’s a challenge. But it’s really cool to see how you’re taking what you believe in and trying to make that impact.

Shane Farmer
Thanks, well, you know, I will say this publicly for your audience, too, because this is, this is what, you know, I was telling you the other day, it’s important for all of you to hear this. I think the reason that you know, I reached out when we chatted the other day, number one, we connected on the rocking thing, but I really wanted to make a specific point of telling you like having watched your journey all along. And being peers in this space, we were saying this, like, It’s not often that you get recognition for what you’re doing. And especially from peers, like it’s easy for people to be like, you’re amazing, and you’re like, stop.

Shane Farmer
But like you have really settled in to like who you are. And so if you guys, you know, I’m sure all of you know this inherently. But like, make sure you tell stuff like you appreciate who she’s being. Having watched this journey, you are so authentically you now and it’s so beautiful to watch because it takes time to get there. And you and I have had these discussions over the years behind the scenes, not always on podcasts about like, what is the journey? Like?

Shane Farmer
How do I even figure out how to make my next move? Like, how am I supposed to pivot this thing? And you’ve just done such a wonderful job of it. And it’s really cool to see your messaging, and how it comes out in so many different ways. As truly, here comes that word again authentically you like you know, it is it’s you. And you said it earlier. There’s a lot of bullshit out there. And I think it’s safe to say you’re not. And you should take immense pride in that. So thank you. Kudos to doing what you’re doing.

Steph Gaudreau
I appreciate that. Well, here’s to the next 10 years. And more. Oh my gosh, this has been so great to chat with you, of course, all things rowing, and bring those resources to people yet again, but also just to connect on a business level and human level. I really appreciate you coming back on the show. And we’ll have to do it again. much sooner than seven years.

Shane Farmer
Next time we’ll be rucking together.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, that’d be awesome. Let’s do it. All right, Shane Farmer, thank you so much for being on the podcast, and I appreciate you.

Shane Farmer
Thanks for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
All right, that is a wrap on this episode was Shane Farmer of Dark Horse Rowing. I’m so glad he came back to the podcast. And it’s really awesome to see his passion, how he’s really trying to bring rowing to more people and improve a sense of community around rowing and around fitness and really provide high-level coaching and quality coaching that not only focuses on the technique of this particular fitness discipline but also in terms of helping people reach a bigger potential. It’s really cool and I’m so glad I’d like to share this fitness space with him.

Steph Gaudreau
Of course, if you would like the show notes for this episode, you can visit StephGaudreau.com. Make sure you subscribe to the show while you’re there, and hit subscribe over on YouTube. Thank you so much for doing that. It really does help the channel to grow. Also, if you’re looking for that support, you are tired of trying to figure everything out on your own, and you know that it’s 40-plus times for you. If you want help putting together the pieces of how to fuel, how to train, how to recover, and how to manage the stress that’s going on in your life so that you see better results from your training, then check out Strength Nutrition Unlocked over at StephGaudreau.com/apply We’d love to see your application come through and to be able to support you toward your goals in 2024. Thanks so much for being with me on this episode of the podcast. Stay tuned for the next one. And until then stay strong.

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Steph Gaudreau

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau (CISSN, NASM-CPT)!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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