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Ed McNeely received his Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Ottawa in 1994 and has been involved in the strength and conditioning industry for 30 years. He has been a consultant to twenty one Canadian national and professional sports teams and is currently the Strength and Conditioning Lead at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario.

 Ed served as a physiology and strength consultant to Rowing Canada for 24 years – through the Rio 2016 Olympics. He is the author of five books: Power Plyometrics, The Resistance Band Workout Book, One Hundred Strength Exercises, Training for Rowing, and Skillful Rowing. He has published over 100 articles on training and athlete conditioning covering topics such as strength training, plyometrics, making weight, assessing fitness, speed and power development, planning and periodization, and aerobic fitness. He is a frequent resource for other writers, acting as an expert for articles in Muscle & Fitness, Outside Magazine, the Georgia Tech Sports Medicine Newsletter, the Rowing News, the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen and the Discovery Channel.

Ed and I discuss rowing at the elite and masters levels. In addition, he shares how he was able to establish benchmarks for rowing high performance athletes and research using isometrics. Enjoy the show!

Part 1 – Ed’s  background and bio 

  • What’s the backstory of how you came to work with and be the lead for  the Canadian Rowing Team? 
  • 24:00 patience
  • 4-5 exercises for strength

Part 2 – Strength Standards for Rowing

    • You were one of the first to research and publish strength and conditioning standards for rowers from the junior through masters levels in both Rowing Faster and Strength and Power Goals for Rowers
      • How did you go about identifying the strength to bodyweight factors for each age group? Did you test each age group? How did you standardize squat depth, bench pull and deadlift for athletes/age groups of various weights and heights?
      • Absolute Strength vs. Relative Strength and why relative strength is more important to a rower.
      • How much strength is too much? Once your athletes hit the standards in the chart outlined in the journal what qualities do you begin to focus on to continue their development? Do you have concerns about mass impeding their ability to row technically or move well?
      • Would you continue to emphasize the back squat, deadlift, and bench pull or is there another skill/lift you would focus on given your experiences at this point?
      • When I attended your lecture at Joy of Sculling you mentioned you have athletes deadlift 1x a week, and squat 3x a week. Why do you feel there should be greater emphasis placed on the squat?
    • Peak Power is the limiting factor of performance
      • Most rowers are pretty equally trained when it comes to aerobic capacity. Peak power is often a key differentiator in rowing performance. Do you think this applies to all rowers or more mature rowers (college, U23, Elite, Masters) vs. juniors and novices?
      • When following the protocol for peak power improvement, power output (strokes) must be 90% of greater. Why?
      • What exercises in S&C do you feel are more transferable to improving power in the rowing stroke?
    • Plyometrics / Jump Training for Rowers
      • “Plyometrics is the link between strength and power”
      • The athlete should be able to squat at least their bodyweight for lower body plyometrics and bench press 0.75 times bodyweight for upper body plyometrics. Why do we need this foundation of strength before we start introducing plyometric work and how were you able to determine this for the rowing population?


  • Into catch position and accelerate out of catch position


  •  Masters rowers
    • Benefits of strength training for the aging athlete
      • Osteoporosis, dynapenia, sarcopenia, combat loss of power/strength
      • Why masters rowers may need to place greater emphasis on strength training for age and health related factors?
      • What would you prioritize more for this population vs. college/elite?
      • Why you are not a fan of machines vs. free weights.

Show Notes: