Nutritional education intervention rowing sports

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2017

45 Pages, Grade: 2,4




1. Physiological analysis of the sport

2. Common nutritional problems which can negatively impact performance or training progression

3. Method field research

4. Results fieldresearch

5. Behaviour

6. Determinants

7. Conclusion

8. References

Appendix 1: measurement body water loss
Appendix 2: food diary for one day
Appendix 3: Valoration of the day
Appendix 4: survey
Appendix 5: interview coach
Appendix 6: observation list


Carbohydrate handout


Evaluation of the product

Evaluation of the process


1. Physiological analysis of the sport

The standard rowing race distance, as determined by FISA, is 2,000 meters. This distance applies to every major rowing event in the world, including the World Rowing Championships, Rowing World Cup, Olympic Summer Games, relevant qualifications or regional races. Aerobic and anaerobic calculations show that 70 to 75% of the energy necessary to row the standard 2000m distance for men is derived from aerobiosis while the remaining 25 to 30% is anaerobic. (Hagerman, F. C. 1984). In trained rowers, the density of mitochondria is high in both ST and FT fibers. (Stephen Seiler 1996)

The sport exercises all the major muscle groups. Is required a strong core balance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and physical strength, because the more powerful the rower is, the longer the stroke can be. In elite level rowers, there is an optimal level of muscular strength associated with success. High-performance rowers tend to be tall and muscular. (Nilsen, T. S., Daigneault, T., & Smith, M. 1987).

Several studies suggest that the Type I percentage is about 70% compared to 40-50% in the population at large. The more successful rowers have an even higher Type I composition. In internationally successful rowers, the percentage has been measured as high as 85%. In addition, muscle capillary density is twice as high in successful rowers as untrained. (Stephen Seiler 1996)

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TABLE 1 Physical Characteristics of Elite Rowers-1992 (Stephen Seiler 1996)

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TABLE 2 Peak Physiological Data- 1992 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team Simulated Competitive Test. 2000m Ergometer race. (Stephen Seiler

During the field research the weight and height was measured of the rowers. The light people under 60 kg mostly steer during trainings and games. Female and male rowers train together and the weight differs from 55-75 kg. Above that they mostly tend to row. Their fitness level is average. The height of the rowers differs between 1.64 to 1.83 meter. Their age differs between 19 and 22 years old. The observation of the training was 2 hours and in general they train for 2 hours.

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TABLE 4 physical characteristic rowing group Phocas (2017)

2. Common nutritional problems which can negatively impact performance or training progression

The first nutritional problem in rowing is dehydration. During training sessions it is hard to have a adequate fluid intake (Secher & Voliantis, 2009). The effects of being dehydrated, defined as 2% body weight loss, can negatively impact performance and recovery can take up from hours to days (Armstrong, Costill & Fink, 1985). Dehydration of greater than 3 %of body weight can further negatively impact the physiologic function and increase an athlete’s risk of developing an exertional heat illness. Dehydration initiates a cascade of events in which blood volume decreases, causing a compensatory increase in heart rate, followed by a decrease in stroke volume due to the increased heart rate and decreased filling time of the heart (Casa et al., 2000). By losing water fatigue will start to increase as the heat increase too, the endurance will reduce and the motivation will decline (Johnson, 2017).

The second nutritional problem is glycogen depletion. It is important to maintain the blood sugar levels so the nutritional needs and gastric comfort will be achieved (Burke, 2007). If a sports performer does not get enough carbohydrates to do the physical activity it will cause there body to fatigue meaning that they won’t be able to do as well in the sport. This means that the sports performer could also lose weight and muscle mass because the body will need to find new sources of energy which is the energy that’s stored. This also means that a person sports performance will decrease (Lenharth, 2015)

The third common nutrition issue is muscle soreness. Due to the soreness, a rower cannot perform at their best and it is harder to continue the exercise routine on a regular basis. The muscle did not get enough protein for a good recovery. Muscle soreness is the result of tiny tears in your muscle fibers during exercise. Your muscle will repair those tears with protein. Post exercise protein also has significant potential to impact health, muscle soreness during intense exercise training. (Flakoll, 2004). Protein has 20 types of amino acids, which are essential for moving oxygen around in the blood. Oxygen is critical to all the functions in the body. With inadequate intake of protein, there will be not enough of these amino acids. When the dietary intake does not give the body the amount of protein it needs to function, it will begin to cannibalize the protein in the muscles in order to sustain itself. The loss of muscle leads to slower metabolism and weight gain, creating a cycle of weight gain that no amount of exercise can effectively combat. The loss of muscle mass also aggravates fatigue and makes the athletes feel weak. Also, it can produce uncomfortable symptoms like muscle cramps that cause pain and make it harder to exercise (Stack, 2017).

3. Method field research

The field research is based on the three main nutritional problems found in desk research. Dehydration is a problem that can negatively impact performance and recovery. The weight of the team has been measured with their own clothes on before training and after training and shower again to calculate body water loss (appendix 1). The athletes also filled in a short survey about their fluid intake before, during and after training (appendix 2).

The problem muscle soreness due a lack of protein was measured with a food diary for one day, see appendix 2 for the setup of a food diary for one day. The rowers filled in the food they eat and the amount on a training day. From there the protein intake was measured before, during and after the training. The calculator that is used for the amount of protein in each product is “Easy diet”. In the interview with the coach was asked about muscle soreness.

The problem of glycogen depletion intake was measured with a survey, observation and a food diary for one day. During the 24 hour recall the carbohydrate intake was measured in one day. From there carbohydrate intake before, during and after the training was measured. The calculator that is used for the amount of carbohydrate in each product is “Easy diet”. Also, the importance of carbohydrate intake was measured. In the observation the fatige level of the rowers was determent by looking how deeply they were breathing.

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4. Results fieldresearch


During training the rowers had some fluid intake by drinking water (Appendix 6). Due to comparing the weight of the rower before and after training, dehydration can be measured. The fluid intake of most of the rowers is sufficient enough. They do not have a body weight decline of more than the limit of 2% (Appendix 1) One of the rowers gain some weight during exercise. The fluid intake was slightly higher than that the rower sweated out. Besides that, another rower had the same weight after training as before the training. The fluid intake of this rower was the same as what the rower sweated out. One of the rowers had an insufficient fluid. The percentage of body weight was slightly over the limit of 2%.

Glycogen depletion

The food diary for one day measured the intake of carbohydrate on a training day was measured. With several rowers the carbohydrate intake was 60-80 g too less for a good recovery of the body after a training (Appendix 2). In the questionnaire was noticed that most rowers do not frequently consume carbohydrates before, during or after training. They were also asked about the importance of carbohydrates. Most rowers answered that they did not focus on carbohydrates when cooking a meal. A few even said that they focused on having a low carbohydrate diet and focus on protein intake (Appendix 4). During the observation no carbohydrate intake was seen. Besides that at the end the rowers started to breath faster and heavier (Appendix 6)

Muscle soreness

The general answer about the protein intake in our athletes is enough for our rower athletes in relation with the recommendations of protein intake for endurance that are 1-1,6g/kg (Mark Tarnopolsky, 2004) with one exception, who does not reach the intake recommendation, as can be seen in the valuation of the interview and the food diary (Appendix 2 and 3). But this is not reason enough to focus the problem of the group in the protein intake because in general they reach the recommendations. Also, as can be seen in appendix 2 and 3, the protein intake after the exercise is in general quite good, so the protein intake could not make a problem or can be a lack of performance for our athletes. The coach mentioned in the interview that no complaints were given about muscle soreness (Appendix 5).

Main problem

The main problem noticed during the research is glycogen depletion. 7 out of 9 rowers that were measured suffered from glycogen depletion (Appendix 2).

5. Behaviour

There are various behaviours that could lead to a lack on the intake of carbohydrate. The results found in field research shows that rowers in general do not know the importance of carbohydrate intake. In general, our athletes only drink water and they do not consume carbohydrates as for example bars or isotonic drinks during the training. Also, the intake of Carbohydrates for the recovery after the training is not enough or optimal because the ratio with protein or the high intake of fats and fibre in the meal after the training. These behaviours lead to an insufficient intake of Carbohydrates during the day.

6. Determinants

One of the main determinants is that in general, they do not know enough about the importance of the carbohydrate intake, especially during and after training and they do not know how to eat them optimally. So the determinants are unknowledge, the effort of prepare drinks or food for during and after exercise because they are students and some time they get so lazy to prepare meals and carry with them during the training. Also, the food could get wet in the boat during the exercise so it is other reason that they do not bring food with them in the boat. The last determinant, is as students, mostly they do not have enough money to get the correct food as isotonic drinks or other supplements as bars, which could be expensive, or where they can get them cheaper. The most important determinants have been analysed by the food diary for one day, survey and the interview, see appendix 2, 4, 5.

7. Conclusion

The main energy system used in the standard distance of 2000m in rowing is aerobic. The three most common nutritional problems in rowing are dehydration, carbohydrate intake balance and the protein intake balance.

Carbohydrate intake balance before, during and after training is the biggest nutritional problem in the rowing group of Phocas. Dehydration is not a big problem in the rowing group because of the sufficient fluid intake during training the body water loss is in general not more than 2% loss of the bodyweight. Only one rower has gone over the limit of 2% body losses. The same goes with the protein intake balance. Only one did not reach the recommendations.

While the problem of glycogen depletion was seen by 7 out of 9 rowers. Those rowers did not have a sufficient carbohydrate intake before, during and after the training. This is due to fact that the rowers did not eat carbohydrate rich products before, during and after the training. The reasons for not eating carbohydrate rich products is due to the lack of knowledge of glycogen depletion, the effort it takes to prepare the carbohydrate rich food and drinks and the effort it takes for eating and drinking it during training. Furthermore, the price of the carbohydrate rich food is a determinant for not have a sufficient carbohydrate intake balance. When the knowledge of glycogen depletion improves and the effort it takes to eat or drink carbohydrate intake is reduced, the biggest nutritional problem in this team can be solved.

8. References

Adams, M., Barker, R., Gledhill, A., Lydon, C., Mulligan, C., Phillippo, P. & Suttonk L. (2010). Sport level 3 book 1, unit 11 Sports Nutrition Pearson Education

Armstrong L. E. , Costill D.L. & Fink W.J. (1985): Influence of diuretic-induced dehydration on competitive running performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc .

Bourgois J, Claessens AL, Vrijens J, et al (2000) Anthropometric characteristics of elite male junior rowers British Journal of Sports Medicine;34:213-216.

Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., Hillman, S. K., Montain, S. J., Reiff, R. V., Rich, B. S. E., … Stone, J. A. (2000). National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, 35 (2), 212–224.

Hagerman, F. C. (1984). Applied Physiology of Rowing. Sports Medicine, 1(4), 303-326. doi:10.2165/00007256-198401040-00005

Hosea, Timothy M., and Jo A. Hannafin. “Rowing Injuries.” Sports Health 4.3 (2012): 236–245. PMC. Web. 7 Sept. 2017.

Kenneth, J. (2017). Dehydration in Sports Performance. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Lenhart, M. (2015). Energy Intake and Energy Expenditure in Sports Performance.

Nilsen, T. S., Daigneault, T., & Smith, M. (1987). Basic rowing physiology. Italy: FISA Development Commission.

Nolte, V., & Nolte, V. (1985). Die Effektivität des Ruderschlages: biomechanische Modelle, Analyse und Ergebnisse. Berlin: Bartels & Wernitz.

Secher, N. H. & Volianitis, S. (2009). Handbook of Sports Medicien and Science, Rowing. Wiley-Blackwell

Slater GJ, Rice AJ, Mujika I, et al (2005) Physique traits of lightweight rowers and their relationship to competitive success British Journal of Sports Medicine;39:736-741.

Stephen Seiler (1996). Physiology of the Elite Rower

Stack (2017). 5 Side Effects of a Low-Protein Diet for Athletes. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Tarnopolsky, M. (2004). Protein requirements for endurance athletes. Nutrition, 20(7-8), 662-668. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.008


Appendix 1: measurement body water loss

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Appendix 2: food diary for one day


Body weight: kg height meter

Make a circle: Rest day/training day/match day

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*It is important:

- Only fill the meals that you have done.
- Write down the water that you drink.
- Write in observations if the meal is pre, during or after the training/match and the water or other drinks.

- How was it prepared is about the cooking-method:, fried, in the oven, boiled,…

- If you have any question, don’t doubt to ask us.

Example portions:

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Rowing 1

Date: 21 of September

Body weight: 58 kg

Height: 1.63

Make a circle: Rest day/training day/match day

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Rowing 2

Date: 27 of September

Body weight: 62kg

Height: 1.73

Make a circle: Rest day/training day/match day

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Excerpt out of 45 pages


Nutritional education intervention rowing sports
HAN University of Applied Sciences  (Gymnasium of sports)
Sports and nutrition
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
770 KB
rowing, behaviour change, nutritional problems, sports intervention, physiological analysis rowing sports, field research rowing, determinants of behaviour
Quote paper
Carina Weißenbacher (Author), 2017, Nutritional education intervention rowing sports, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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