Indoor rowing is a highly effective and low-impact workout that can deliver serious results without being hard on your body, like running or cycling can be. It’s why we’ve chosen the rowing machine to center the entire CITYROW workout around! If you attend a CITYROW class, all of our highly trained instructors will be able to walk you through the proper form and technique of rowing and will be there to provide direct feedback. 

If you don’t have the luxury of a CITYROW studio in your town (yet) but you still want to reap the benefits of this killer workout, there are a few things you should know before hopping onto a rowing machine. Misusing this piece of equipment can do you more harm than good in the long run or increase your risk of injury, so it’s essential to learn proper technique before beginning.

Indoor Rowing Technique

Unless you’re a gym buff or have been on a rowing team, there’s a good chance you’ve never rowed before. Don’t worry; once you get the hang of it, the stroke motion becomes a natural, fluid motion. You’ll find your rhythm and settle into the flow.

When climbing onto the rower, you’ll want to grab the handlebar (on a CITYROW WaterRower, the starting position will be to have the handlebar directly above the flywheel). Your feet will be in the stirrups and your knees bent.

As you progress through the drive phase, you’ll first fully extend your legs, lean back slightly, then with your legs still straight, follow through with your arms by bringing them to your chest. Your legs should primarily power this motion; use the momentum created by extending your legs to pull the handle to your chest.

As you release, you will complete the reverse motions in the opposite order: release the arms, bring your torso back above your hips, bend the legs, and return to the starting position.
For a more detailed breakdown of proper form and technique, read our previous post on How to Use a Rowing Machine.

Young male pulling on a rowing machine

Common Rowing Mistakes

Especially when working out on your own, it’s essential to keep your form and technique in check to get the most out of your workout. Here are some of the most common mistakes made when using an indoor rowing machine. Correcting these mistakes won’t necessarily give you perfect form, but it is undoubtedly a good start in making sure you are rowing correctly and safely. 

1. Rounding your back

Keep an upright seated position throughout the entirety of the stroke. When you are leaning forward in the catch position (your starting position), the bend should come from the hips rather than rounding or hunching the back. Likewise, when you lean back at the top of the stroke, the motion should originate from the hips.

2. Letting your upper body do most of the work

Despite what it looks like, rowing is 60% legs. The power of the stroke comes primarily from straightening your legs; think of the arms as the follow-through. Your core also does a fair amount of the work, so be sure to keep your core muscles engaged throughout the entire stroke.

3. Pulling the arms back before your legs are straight

This ties in closely to mistake #2. Pulling back the arms prematurely changes the stroke’s dynamic and puts more pressure on your arms than it should. Straighten your legs, lean back, then complete the motion with your arms as the final step.

4. Bending your knees too soon in the recovery phase

Return your arms out in front of you and bring your torso back above your hips before bending your knees. Remember the order: legs, core, arms for the drive, then arms, core, legs for the release. 

5. Not maintaining control during the release

The release is half the stroke, so don’t waste it by letting yourself slam back into the flywheel. Keep your major muscle groups engaged and maintain a slow, steady motion to return to the starting position before beginning the next stroke.

6. Pausing at the top of the stroke

The rowing stroke should be a continuous, fluid motion. Resist the urge to pause at the top of the stroke and instead let yourself flow right into the release.

Improving Your Performance

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the technique, you might think that rowing would become monotonous and boring—quite the contrary. There is always a way to challenge yourself and strive for improvement or a new personal record.

A common thing to focus on when trying to improve rowing technique is increasing the stroke rate. A strong push with your legs will make the arm pull and upper body work easier. Keep your recovery phase short by keeping all your muscles engaged.

But it’s not only about stroke rate. Pay attention to your split time, too, which tells you how much power you have behind each stroke (and essentially how far you would be rowing if you were actually in the water).

If you consistently work towards improving your stroke rate and split time, you’ll quickly realize that your body can do amazing things with a little hard work and motivation!

Want to Bring CITYROW to Your City?

As effective of a workout as it is, it’s no surprise that rowing has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. With boutique fitness on the rise and the cult following that the CITYROW program attracts, it’s truly a win-win situation. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has posed to the industry as a whole, as a vaccine becomes more widely available, devoted gym-goers will be lining up to return to their favorite fitness studios. 

If you’d like to see a CITYROW near your hometown, consider opening a CITYROW Franchise. This is truly a ground floor opportunity that has massive potential for growth and profitability. If you’ve been considering a change in your life, are passionate about fitness, and want to impact your community, a CITYROW Franchise could be the opportunity for you. Best of all, you don’t have to have any prior business or fitness experience to franchise with us!

Want to learn more about franchising with CITYROW? Contact us today!

Franchise With Us!

Download our Franchise Lookbook for more information on the CITYROW franchise opportunity. Get in touch with us today to discuss the next steps in opening your own CITYROW Studio!

get started