There is no exercise that replicates the catch position of the stroke more so than the deadlift. There also isn't a lift that is more beneficial for rowers. Take a look at the two photos below.
As you can see the main difference is one pull is coming from straight ahead and the other is coming from the ground. The only exercise that seems to replicate the stroke more closely is the erg.
Blake Gourley holds a Masters of Science in Sports Performance Training and has over 10 years of experience working with rowers. Read more