Originally Posted by jaydc7
Are you talking about the short term or long term? I feel like rowing pieces 500m to 3000m and doing some squats/cleans/whatever mixed together would be beneficial in the long term.
Short and long-term are both one and the same if the weight training is as consistent as the rowing. I don't need strength itself -- if I can row 500m at 500w for instance but my average wattage for a 2K is 350w, then obviously I'm losing strength due to a lack of endurance (exhaustion of energy on a metabolic level). Maximal contractile strength of the muscles (i.e. one rep max, and even extending to 5 repetitions or so) has no bearing on an exercise which, contrastingly, has hundreds of repetitions and lasts a much more extended duration. The same energy systems aren't used and neural strength plays almost no role beyond the initial pull.
The primary benefit I could see being derived from weight training would be muscle hypertrophy. But since this new muscle will then need to be innervated and capillaries will need to form, I can't see the weight training itself providing much benefit. In other words, the actual increases in speed on the erg will come from, again, better training of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems which will best be done on the erg itself. Weight training will induce hypertrophy much more effectively than rowing itself will, but if the muscle gain outpaces any possible 'honing' of that muscle on the erg then all is for naught anyway. In addition, larger muscles reduce efficiency of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems because blood flow across the muscle is reduced -- it simply takes more time for the blood to travel across a larger muscle. Considering the capillary system itself likely provides the main source of energy carried in the hemoglobin, extra muscle mass becomes even more deleterious since blood tends to leak out of the capillaries into surrounding tissue, some of which is unutilized; the potential energy that was flowing to the depleted areas instead gets lost on the way.
All of this is also ignoring the differences in fiber types, which is a very gray area since little usable data or information exists.
All of the above assumes a sufficient strength level. It also ignores some aspects of maximal strength and endurance which I just thought of but don't have the time to post yet (gotta run).