This is my personal opinion.
It is important to recognize that there are some variables that will alter the answer:
3) Weight category (open or light)
4) The individual weight of the rower.
5) The distance of the race.
6) What part of the racing season.
7) The years of training.
8)The ‘natural’ power of the rower.
9) The event the rower is training for.
10) Conditions of the race e.g. a head or tail wind race if you know a likely probability .
Most people trying to improve their movement ability for sports will therefore spend time lifting weights to train their ability to quickly and forcefully contract their muscles. But there is a flip side to the coin of good coordination which is equally important and often ignored. If coordination means all the right muscles firing at the right time, this also means that all the other muscles not involved in the movement must relax in the right places at the right speed at the right time. Any act of coordination requires the skill of relaxing the muscles that aren’t essential to the movement. If the non-essential muscles aren’t relaxed, they will cause extraneous movement or tension that interferes in the desired movement and wastes energy.
Quick and accurate relaxation is also essential to good sports performance.
Relaxation must become second nature in every drill you do and every run you take. You may feel that you aren’t generating enough force while relaxed, but remember, only the net force counts! The net force is the amount of force delivered in the desired direction minus the force generated by the antagonist muscle at the same moment.”
Golfers, tennis players, and baseball pitchers would give similar advice about executing maximum power. This is why any great athlete makes it look easy, and has the ability to generate enormous power even while looking very relaxed and smooth.
Our goal is to be the fastest we can be on the water. Do we lift weights? How much?
My personal opinion is that it is the choice of the coach with each rower having clear all the variables that I list from 1 to 10.
To give an example:
During the winter of 2008 I had the chance to meet Bent Jensen, the lightweight men’s coach for Rowing Canada at the time. Bent coached the Danish Lightweight Men’s 4 from Denmark to Gold on several Olympics. I asked him how much lifting his rowers did and he said none. I asked him again and he repeated the the same: NONE. I believed him. After talking to Bent, I had the chance to learn from top coaches from France, Australia, USA, Italy, Greece, GB, Germany and other countries. They all used different successful system always based on the variables that I list.
I started coaching a rower in 2006 who was a novice rower, 26 years old, female and with NO POWER and NO Rower BODY… I coached to a Gold medal on a Rowing World cup and a World record on the CONCEPT2 on an OPEN category NEVER LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS.. I coached her from the start to her World record and World Cup Gold medal.
More important: She went to a training camp with other International rowers and she couldn’t even lift their warm up weight. She was faster on the ergo at low rates and on the water. Faster on starts, on head wind, on short and longer pieces. She had more POWER PER STROKE. Why? COORDINATED POWER WAS THE KEY!
With this what I’m saying is that people have won the Olympics not lifting weights during the Olympic year and I have coached a World record on the Concept2 and a GOLD medal on a World cup with NO LIFTING WEIGHTS.