Article banner image

7 Tips For Using A Rowing Machine

If you want an amazing, low-impact cardio workout, look no further than the indoor rowing machine. An intense workout on this piece of equipment can fry fat, combust calories, and build serious muscle. Unfortunately, many people prefer not to use a rowing machine, simply because they do not know how to use them or cannot seem to get a decent work out from them. That's why we've put together the best 7 tips for using a rowing machine!

1. WaterRower VS Fly Wheel Rower - Know the difference

There are two main types of indoor rowers that you'll find in most gyms. The first is an air or flywheel rowing machine, which has a wheel at the end with a fan inside. As you pull on the handle, you spin the wheel, using the air pushing against the fan blades for resistance. The most common air rower you will find is the Concept 2, which have a resistance knob called a damper on the fans to make it harder or easier to spin the fan.

The other rower you'll likely encounter is the WaterRower. WaterRowers are wooden ergs with a flat water tank at the end with a fan inside. Instead of using air as resistance against the fan, you have to push water against the fan blades. They are intended to mimic rowing on a boat, and because they don't have a chain attached to the handle, they tend to be much quieter than air rowers.

2. Make Adjustments to your Machine

Ensure that your heels are resting against the entire pedal when sitting on the machine. The straps should be tight enough to secure your foot in place. Adjust the machine until you are in the proper position.

3. Learn the correct form

If you're not rowing with the correct form, not only will you be inefficient, but you'll probably start to feel back pain. As with any type of exercise, if you're feeling pain, you should stop and ask your trainer to help you before continuing.

Step One

The Catch: Sit with your legs bent and feet in the stirrups so your shins are almost 90 degrees to the floor. Fully extend your arms to grab the handle and lean your body forward, so your shoulders come just in front of your hips. Keep your back flat and your core engaged.

The Catch Rowing Exercise

Step Two

The Drive: Maintain a straight back, tight core, and locked arms and then drive your legs back until they are just about straight. Once they are, hinge from your hips and lean your torso backward. When your torso reaches a 90-degree angle with the floor, pull with your arms, bending at the elbows.

The Drive Rowing Exercise

Step Three

The Finish: Here your legs should be straight, your elbows bent, and you should pull the handle to your lower chest. Your arms should be slightly away from your ribcage, but not flared out to the sides. Maintain a strong core and a straight back.

The Finish Rowing Exercise

Step Four

The Recovery: A mirror image of The Drive. The arms begin to straighten. When they are almost fully extended, the torso hinges forward from the hips. Maintain a straight back and tight core, begin to bend the knees once the handle passes over them.

The Recovery Rowing Exercise

4. Understand rowing terms

1. Strokes per minute
This is how many times you row (stroke) in 1 minute. Keep this number at 30 or less. Remember: It's about power, not just flinging your body back and forth.

2. Split time
The "split" refers to how much time it would take you to cover 500 meters if you maintain that split. For example, if you are holding a 1:45 split, then it will take you 1 minute, 45 seconds to cover 500 meters.

5. Know how to measure your rowing

What is essential for the beginner rower (and even if you are an intermediate or advanced athlete, chances are you are a beginner rower) is to have intention and control when it comes to stroke rate. What happens when people refuse to look at their monitors when rowing is that their stroke rate is inconsistent. The key to improving is to have consistency in your stroke rate. When you're first learning to row, practice holding your stroke rate at different SPMs for a minute at a time. Start low (20 SPM) and every minute try to increase by 2 SPM and see if you can stay right in that zone. Once you learn to maintain your stroke rate, you can try to figure out which is the most efficient for you at different distances.

1. Split times are a reflection of the amount of force you are applying to each stroke. If you are inconsistent with your force application, then your split time will vary from stroke to stroke. If you can apply the same force consistently, your split time will remain unchanged.

2. Stroke rates and split times should be things you have control over, and you use to strategize your way through a rowing piece or a workout.

6. Breathe 

Exhale as you drive back. Inhale as you recover forward. One countback. Two counts forward. If you're having trouble breathing, it's probably because you're rushing forward and shorting yourself on your inhale.

7. Enjoy yourself

Your rowing journey should be focussed on the progress you've made and not how close you are to rowing perfectly. You have between now and the rest of your life to row better, move better, and get fitter. Enjoy your rowing journey and play the long game.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published