How to Use a Rowing Machine
Rowing for fitness is praised by professional athletes and exercise scientists alike. It’s a high-intensity, full-body workout that is gentle on the joints while working 85% of your muscles with every stroke- lower body, core muscles, AND upper body.
Proper form is crucial to avoiding injury and maximizing effectiveness when rowing. Proper rowing machine form includes sitting upright (no slouching!), keeping your head neutral, and keeping your shoulders relaxed. We’ll walk you through the proper form throughout each movement of the stroke below.
Interested in joining the rowing revolution? CITYROW classes offer alternating intervals on and off of the rowing machine to deliver a triple threat workout: high-intensity sweat, low-impact burn, and total body results.
Check out our locations to see if there is a CITYROW studio near you! If not, don’t worry- we have nearly 50 new locations opening soon across the U.S., and our franchise continues to grow to keep up with demand!
Some Tips to Get Started
Keep in mind that, though we’ve broken down the rowing motion here, each stroke should be a continuous movement and your rowing rhythm should have a sense of fluidity and continuity.
If you are using an indoor rower with damper or resistance settings (air resistance rowing machines and magnetic rowing machines), start low while you become comfortable with the technique and form. Rowing at a higher setting increases your chances of injury. Approach with caution.
Remember- the primary source of resistance comes from the power in your legs as you take off! Focus on this and you are sure to get a great workout, even at a low setting.
With a WaterRower, you won’t need to mess with damper settings or resistance- it uses natural water resistance to mimic the feel of rowing on a boat. The intensity of the workout is determined by how much YOU decide to push yourself. Simply grab a water bottle and towel, strap your feet in, grab the handle bar, and let’s get rowing!
How to Properly Use a Rowing Machine
1. The Catch
The starting position for the full stroke. Knees bent, shoulders down, torso hinged slightly forward with arms fully extended.
Tips: Your torso should be hinging at the hips, not hunched over. Your shins should be close to vertical. Your heels may or may not be lifted at this point.
2. The Drive
This is where you produce power! Push to extend your legs fully, open your hips, then lean back to 1 o’clock. Pull the handlebar to your chest and release. The power comes from the push of your legs; the pull of your arms is just the finish.
Think legs, core, arms- in that order.
Tips: Keep your hands in a straight line throughout the drive phase. Your shoulders should remain relaxed throughout the entire stroke. At the final moment of the drive, your legs should be straight and your hands should be holding the handle just below your ribs.
3. The Recovery
Hands quickly release from your body. Once your arms are straight and your body has returned to 12 o’clock, control your return back to the catch position at the front of the machine.
Tips: Extend your arms BEFORE bending your knees and sliding forward. When you return to the Catch position, reach your arms all the way to above the flywheel to get a full range of motion (your heels might have to lift to do so). The Recovery stage is usually slower than the Drive, but this depends on the stroke rate you are trying to achieve.
The Numbers, Explained
You might be thinking, “Wait, am I supposed to know what a stroke rate is?” It’s a term you will hear often if you attend a CITYROW class, along with “split time.” We’ve broken down the meanings of these terms for you:
Your stroke rate is your speed. It indicates how quickly you’re moving back and forth on the rower.
Tip: Faster is not necessarily better! The key to better rowing – and a better workout – is learning to control your speed so that you can row consistently at any given speed. Most of our classes aim for stroke rates between 24 and 30.
Your split time, or time per 500 meters, shows your current pace- it is a reflection of how hard you are working. A lower split time equals higher intensity.
Tip: Your split is determined by both the power behind your pushes and your stroke rate.
We’re Here to Help You!
When you come to a CITYROW class, our instructors will always take the time to ensure you feel comfortable with the form and technique of rowing. In fact, Your first three classes will be devoted to helping you master the art of rowing!
Here’s what you can expect:
Class 1: Form First
Your first class is all about the basics. Learn the terms and perfect your form. At this point, don’t worry too much about the numbers – just break a sweat and have some fun!
Class 2: Find Your Power
You’ve mastered the form, now it’s time to find your power. In your second class, you’ll begin to understand the numbers on the monitor and how to gauge your performance and intensity.
Class 3: Go Further
Learn the basics? Check. Understand how to read the monitor? Thank you, next. Time to challenge yourself, push your limits, and show us what you’ve got!
Row With Us!
Sign up for a class today to start making waves. We welcome people of all fitness levels, even if you’ve never rowed before! To learn more about our franchising opportunities, sign up for a free introductory call!
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