Fatigue impairs coordination so if you are working on your rowing technique when you are tired from lifting weights, too much training, lack of sleep or too much going on in your life, you will have a harder time to improve your rowing skills!
1. To optimize motor learning you need to minimize fatigue
Movement skills are best learned and refined in a context that is free from stress, pain and fatigue.
“Tired muscles can’t learn anything.” So next time you are rowing with the primary intention of improving your coordination, realize that performing the movements with speed, intensity or without adequate rest might work against your goals.
2. Skill under fatigue is a skill in itself
Rowing requires that you show your skills while tired. I agree that you should practice rowing under fatigue to perform the skill on these difficult conditions. But I also know that in order to wire the proper movement the best way will be doing it while rested, slowing down the movement and with plenty of focus. Rowers should first wire the correct movement on their body without much fatigue and on a slow way. When this is done properly, rowers can start to develop that rowing skill at a higher speed and under fatigue.
3. The more fit you are the less skill deterioration from fatigue you will experience
Fitness and skill are hard to separate. If your rowing deteriorates a lot when you get tired, you need to get more fit so you can control that. If your goal is to go the fastest you can at race pace, then you need a good level of fitness to get you to the finish line maintaining your technique. If you look at the top crews in the world on racing you will see how easy and fluid the movement looks under huge amounts of fatigue. This is achieved with plenty of good fitness and technique.
My conclusion here is that if you are a rower that wants to improve his rowing technique, I will consider taking some resting days where you have plenty of energy and time to work on your rowing skill. On those practices you should work on your rowing movement slowly for many repetitions as you can to wire little by little the new correct movement you want to achieve. Working on your rowing technique after doing weights or extreme levels of fatigue might be even detrimental in some cases. At the end your goal is not to be the strongest rower on the gym but the fastest on the water and for that you need to learn to draw that fine line of how much lifting and cross training and how much rowing skill with the training time you have available.
Thanks to Todd Hargrove from Better Movement