A Proper Rowing Machine Workout
You may have noticed a rowing machine, aka rower, ergometer or "erg" gathering dust in the corner of your neighborhood gym. Or, you may remember it as the Underwood's workout equipment of choice in the Netflix series, House of Cards. If you're a crossfitter, there's even a possibility that you may have used one in your own workout routine. But, did you know there's also a good chance that you may be using it all wrong?
Many people, even among those who use a rowing machine as part of their fitness routine, don't always have a good understanding of how to get the most benefit from this machine or what constitutes "good form" while using it. Apart from sitting on it and rowing, most people have little knowledge of the physical dynamics at work or how to harness them to their advantage.
A properly executed workout on a rowing machine can build strength, improve endurance and torch fat. As an added bonus, working out on a rower can actually be fun. On the other hand, the lack of proper training and technique common amongst gym-goers can lead to misuse and injury. Fortunately, we have a few tips that should give you a better rowing machine workout experience.
To Start Your Rowing Machine Workout
Start in the "catch position." Begin with resistance set to low until you get your form down. You can slowly ramp up resistance as your form improves and you get more comfortable. Your knees should be bent, your back straight, butt back, and arms reaching forward. Then, push back through your legs (don't lead with your hips) leaning slightly back and pull the handle up to your chest, elbows pointing down. Now you're ready to begin your workout.
The "drive" describes the basic sequence of the rowing stroke, which is legs first, then back, and finally arms. A few common mistakes to avoid are pulling with your arms first or opening up with your shoulders before you've driven the legs down. Scott Frandsen, Olympic medalist and Associate Head Coach at the University of California Berkeley says, "I always liken the movement to a power clean, and stress the importance of holding a strong body angle while pushing the legs down, and then accelerating through with the body and then the arms."
Quite literally, the "finish" of the stroke. After completing the stroke sequence, you should be sitting with your legs flat, shoulders behind your hips, and the handle drawn horizontally to the body at the lower ribs," according to UC Berkeley Head Coach, Mike Teti.
This is when you rest! From the "finish" position, the correct sequence is to move the hands away from the body first, then pivot from the hips to get back into that strong body position forward (your shoulders should be in front of your hips) and finally break the knees to roll up the slide to the starting "catch" position again. "This movement should be blended together so as not to be too rigid, but the handle needs to get out past your knees before you start to roll up the slide, so the handle doesn't have to go up and over your knees," says Teti. You should also keep in mind that the handle should remain on one horizontal plane for the entire stroke and recovery, and not be bobbing up and down.
Come On In. The Water's Fine!
These steps should be enough to get you started on the right track, but you can find plenty of instruction videos online to help you perfect your rowing machine workout form. This will ultimately produce a more effective and satisfying workout while helping you avoid possible injury from improper use of the rower. Happy rowing!
RX Fitness Has the Rowing Machine You're Looking For
RX Fitness Equipment in Thousand Oaks is here to help you reach your own fitness targets. If you're in the market for a rowing machine of your own, or just want a little advice on using one, we're here to help. If you're looking for a great selection of fitness equipment and accessories of all kinds, we carry the top brands to fit every goal and budget and we're here to make your fitness routine more productive. Stop by any of our three store locations or give us a call. And don't forget to check out Tim's best-selling book, Fitness Equipment – A Shopper's Guide, available at Amazon and other online book sellers as well as in our store.
Contact us for a free consultation or stop by any of our three stores and take something for a test drive. We’re here to help.