Question of the Day

Out of curiosity – why do lightweights stress and stress about getting so far under the minimum? It makes sense that they would want to have a bit of a cushion to ensure they don’t go over it (e.g., being at 130-132 so that if they eat or drink too much, they’re still under 135), but I don’t understand from a logical perspective why they get so worked up about getting their weight down and down and down. Yes, getting down to weight is extremely mentally and emotionally taxing but why do coaches want such drastic margins between the weight maximum and what they actually weigh? It seems to me that you would want to be as close to the maximum as possible, because the heavier you are, the more powerful your stroke can be, theoretically speaking, no? So you would want to be as big as possible without surpassing the maximum to be better competition. I.E. A 160lb guy can probably pull harder than a 150lb guy, if you’re making that judgment solely based on weight. Right? So what gives with the constant weight loss — other than it being emotionally addictive and unhealthy?

I get what you’re asking and what you’re saying but be careful about phrasing it so … harshly. You sound kind of flippant here and I know several lightweights that would raise an eyebrow at this. It’s a physical thing yes, but for some rowers, more than most people realize, it’s much more of a psychological thing. When people are dismissive about it or talk about it like they’re being illogical or something, it can be pretty damaging.

Related: National eating disorder awareness week: Lightweights

There is no minimum for lightweights – not sure if you meant to put “maximum” in your first sentence or not but only coxswains have minimums. Minimums mean that you cannot be under that weight; maximums mean you can’t be over it. Lightweight women and men have a maximum of 130lbs or 160lbs, respectively.

I don’t think most coaches do want drastic margins between the rowers’ weights and the maximums. If the maximum is 130lbs a coach isn’t going to tell all the women in the boat that they need to weigh 120lbs on race day. A few days beforehand they might want to be 128lbs to provide that cushion, like you said, but I don’t think two pounds constitutes a “drastic margin”.

Related: National eating disorder awareness week: Your experiences

Theoretically yes, I suppose the heavier you are the more brute strength you’ll be able to conjure up but lightweight rowing isn’t all about strength like heavyweight rowing is. OK, technically that’s not completely true. Heavyweight rowing requires good technique, obviously, but since they don’t have weight limits they can be as heavy as they want (within reason, use your common sense) which means they can out-muscle the competition. Lightweights, however, do have weight limits which means their brute strength can only take them so far. Their technical rowing has to be spot on in order to make up for what they lack in strength (compared to heavyweights).

Other than all of that … I don’t know how else to answer your question. I think that most people that compete at the lightweight level are already within a healthy weight range so they don’t need to do much other than maintain their current weight. Others have to do more but if they’re responsible in the off-season they won’t have much weight to lose when racing season rolls around.



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