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The Rowing Machine is often one of the most neglected pieces of equipment in a gym’s cardio area. A main reason could be that people just don’t know how to use it properly. It’s easy to jump on a treadmill or elliptical, hit Quick Start and off you go. But rowing requires some knowledge of technique, coordination and good form.
Rowing is a highly effective cardiovascular activity that can help increase endurance, strength and power. And unlike running, rowing is a very low impact exercise. It requires use of a lot of the large muscles groups including legs, back, shoulders and midsection, making it a great exercise for burning calories and therefore, weight loss.
The rowing stroke is divided into four portions: The catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery.
The catch is the beginning of the stroke where the rower is closest to the flywheel. In this position, it is important not to round your back causing you to hunch forward. Do not slide too far forward at the end of the catch, and keep the shins vertical. You should also keep your arms straight throughout and not bend at the elbows.
The drive is the work portion of the stroke. Press with the legs first, keeping the upper body stable, then follow-through with the back pull. Finally, bend at the elbows pulling the handle into the chest, and keep the chain level at a horizontal line throughout.
In the finish, at the end of the drive, the legs should be fully extended with the back neutral and a slight lean back where the upper body is at an 11 o’clock position. Be careful not to lean back too far, causing excessive layback.
The recovery can be considered the rest portion of the stroke. Again, the chain should be maintained at a horizontal line as you move it back in towards the flywheel. Allow the handle to clear your knees before you start to bend them and keep your back upright and neutral. Lean slightly forward at the end of the recovery with your arms straight and shins vertical.
Throughout the stroke, you should not grip the handle too tight or flex at the wrists. Relax your shoulders and keep your wrists loose. You should also keep your elbows close to your sides throughout, and not allow them to fly outward at the end of the drive or finish. The whole stroke should be have a smooth fluid rhythm and not look rushed, with the drive portion being a little faster than the recovery.
Indoor rowing can not only be a fun new way to exercise, but a highly effective one if performed correctly. Follow these simple pointers to get the most out your workout and for more instruction, including technique videos visit Concept 2 Rowing