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How to Use a Rowing Machine

 5/9/2024 10:40:32 AM GMT
A rowing machine provides an excellent low-impact full-body workout,
that's easy on the joints and perfect for home use.

We explain how to use a rowing machine with proper stroke and pace to maximize your  exercise workout.  Cardio workouts have never been easier.

What's a Rowing Machine?

Simply put, a rowing machine, or indoor rower, is a machine used to simulate the action used when rowing a watercraft for the purpose of exercise or cross-training. The best rowing machine is ergonomically designed to facilitate a motion that starts from your ankles and progresses up through your body to your hands.

We offer these fitness tips for using a rowing machine effectively and safely.

What are the Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine?

This list of advantages will make you wonder why you haven't started using an indoor rower at home a long time ago; they include:

  1. Easy to use.
  2. Low impact, joint friendly.
  3. Full body workout, including core.
  4. Simultaneously builds muscle, while improving cardio performance.
  5. Excellent home application.
Proper Use of a Rowing Machine.

To begin understanding how to properly use a rowing machine, you should first familiarize yourself with your rower's console. Rowing machines for different needs and budgets, will have a console that provides you with information about your workout, with different degrees of sophistication depending on the model you purchase. But the basic information you should follow includes:

  • Your strokes per minute.
  • The total time of your workout session.
  • The total distance you've rowed during your session.
  • Your split time - how long it takes to row a give distance.
The Rowing Motion

According to experts in the sport, there are four distinct elements in a rowing motion: the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recover. Here is each element:

The Catch is the beginning of the rowing motion. You should be sitting tall on the rowing machine in an upright position with your arms straight out while you're gripping the rower's handle. Your knees and ankles should be flexed so that your shins are roughly vertical. Protect your lower back by using your lats to pull your shoulders down and by bracing your core. Keep your back straight and lean forward slightly.

The Drive begins the rowing stroke by pushing with your legs, while keeping your back straight and contracting your core. When your legs are straight, hinge at the hips and lean back to about 45 degrees with your arms still extended. Now pull the handle towards your torso with your arms, a few inches above your belly button. The order for the muscle groups used is: legs, core, hips and shoulders, arms.

The Finish is the pause at the end of the stroke. Your legs and back should be straight, with your shoulders and back maintaining a 45 degree angle. Your hands and handle are pulled in toward the body, and your elbows are tucked in against the torso.

The Recover is the Drive in reverse, which returns you to the Catch position. Simply extend your arms, hinge forward at the hips to bring the torso over the legs, then bend the knees as you slide forward into the Catch position to begin your next Driving stroke.

The video to the right demonstrates the proper rowing stroke on the highly rated XTERRA Fitness ERG220 rowing machine.

What Common Mistakes Should I Avoid?

The three most common mistakes in a rowing machine workout are:

  1. Not keeping your back straight: Rounding your back and slumping forward places stress on the back and shoulders.
  2. Not using your core during the drive: Make sure your core is engaged before you push back with your legs to start the Drive. This avoids executing the Drive motion through your hips, rather than through your legs.
  3. Not straightening your arms first to initiate the Recovery: Remember, the proper sequence for the Recovery is arms, hips and shoulders, core, and then knees. If you bend the knees first, you're rowing motion will be less effective and you won't be able to get into a proper rhythm.

What's a good Workout Routine?

A good rowing machine is a very versatile piece of exercise equipment, lending itself to a wide range of needs, from casual workouts to intense professional cross-training.

You can look around the Internet to find different rowing workouts and determine which are right for you.

One of our favorites for beginners is this short routine that focuses on form to help create a good foundation for more effective, and safe, workouts as you increase the intensity of your routines.

  • Warm-up: Take 5 minutes to warm up at an easy pace. This will get your heart rate up and prepare your muscles for a greater level of exertion.
  • 1st Distance Split: Increase your strokes per minute to a moderate intensity, and continue at this pace for 300 meters.
  • Recovery: Reduce your stroke rate to an easy pace for 2 minutes to let your body and lungs recover.
  • 2nd Distance Split: Increase your strokes per minute back to a moderate intensity, and continue at this pace for 300 meters.
  • Recovery: Reduce your stroke rate to an easy pace for 2 minutes to let your body and lungs recover.
  • 3rd Distance Split: This is the finishing sprint, so increase your strokes per minute to a rate somewhat higher than a moderate intensity, and continue at this pace for 300 meters.
  • Cool-down: Take 5 minutes to cool down at an easy pace. This allows for a gradual recovery to your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.

Rowing machine benefits from a consistent exercise routine include an improvement in overall health and well-being. As with any exercises, safety should be your first priority. By rowing with the correct posture and keeping your movements during the rowing stroke in the correct sequence, you can ensure a safe experience with a quality in-home rowing machine. You should never us a rowing machine if you have any sort of lower back pain or injury, as doing so could cause further injury. Although rowing benefits are numerous, check with your doctor before beginning rowing workouts if you're unsure if a rowing machine is right for you.