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HomeHealth&FitnessFind out how to Use a Rowing Machine (3 Exercises)

Find out how to Use a Rowing Machine (3 Exercises)

Man using row machine

The rowing machine – it’s so scorching proper now.

Rowing lessons are in all places. It’s simple to search out skilled and Olympic athletes hyping up the machine’s means to offer a full-body exercise.

All wonderful and good…however how do you really use the factor?

Welp my buddy, you’ve come to the best place to search out out.

Many consumers in our On-line Teaching Program inform us they need to begin rowing, however they don’t understand how. In the present day, we’ll clarify how we get them going with row machine exercises.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Alright, you prepared?

Let’s row, row, row your rower.

Find out how to Use a Rowing Machine (Video Tutorial)

Within the video above, Coach Staci explains the ins and outs of utilizing a rowing machine.

What? Who’s Staci?

Welp, she’s a Senior Coach right here at Nerd Health and an all-around badass powerlifter.

She additionally is aware of a factor or two about utilizing a rowing machine, since she’s gotten a number of CrossFit certs (they love the rowing machine at CrossFit).

In the event you’re going to study utilizing a rowing machine, she’s not a nasty particular person to speak to.

However first, let’s again up right here a bit…

What Are the Advantages of Utilizing a Rowing Machine?

Team of Lego men rowing a boat

The rowing machine was initially invented for water rowers to coach low season.

You would possibly hear the indoor rowing machine known as an ergometer, or “erg” or “ergo.” They get this identify since rowing machines usually measure the power produced from the exercise in items of ergs.

Animation of the words

They’ve grown in recognition, as a result of this one stationary machine presents lots of neat options.

For instance, the advantages of the rowing machine embody:

  • A Full-Physique Exercise. If we use correct rowing method, we’ll hit each main muscle group in our physique. Higher, decrease, core, we’ll work all of it. This is likely one of the primary causes they’ve turn out to be so fashionable.
  • Low-Affect. Whereas a exercise from a rowing machine can get intense, it’s thought of to be little to no impression. That’s why it’s typically really helpful to sufferers with osteoarthritis.[1]
  • Versatility. We are able to do loads with an ergometer. We are able to practice for period and/or depth. We even do a HIIT exercise. Or we will mix it with body weight actions in a circuit. Plus, since a few of them fold up, they’re excellent for many who want to coach in small areas.

Alright, let’s now go over some terminology so you recognize what’s what with the ergometer.

Rowing Machine 101: Phrases to Know

Row machine

In terms of the rowing machine, there’s some vocabulary that will be price discussing shortly.

First, let’s chat concerning the rower itself.

Right here Are the Elements of the Rowing Machine:

#1) Foot Plate – regardless of the rower, there might be a spot so that you can strap your ft in.

Strapping feet into row machine

You’ll need to set your ft in order that the strap goes over the ball of your foot. This can permit you to have essentially the most highly effective stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating proper stroke technique

It’s best to be capable of raise your heel on this place.

#2) Deal with – additionally known as “the bar.” This replicates the handles of an oar.

Your fingers ought to be roughly shoulder-width aside.

#3) Rail – the central beam of the rower, which permits the seat to roll ahead and again.

#4) Show Monitor – whereas these will differ from mannequin to mannequin, the rower will usually have a display to point out some primary information:

  • Strokes per minute (Stroke Charge)
  • Cut up Time (extra on this momentarily)
  • Period of exercise

And many others.

For the Concept2 mannequin – the rower Coach Staci demonstrates above – you possibly can hit any button and choose “Simply Row.”

Demonstration of monitor for Concept2 row machine

This would be the best option to get going.

#5) The Damper – The lever on the aspect of the flywheel housing (or fan cage) that controls airflow.

Demonstration of row machine damper

The distinction in Damper settings:

  • The upper the setting, the extra air is allowed to stream. This requires extra work to spin the flywheel.
  • The decrease the setting, the much less air is allowed to stream. This requires much less work to spin the flywheel.

Consider this type of like bicycle gears – it impacts how the rowing feels however doesn’t essentially mirror the resistance:

  • A setting of 1 will really feel quick and simpler to tug, however you’ll want to maneuver shortly to generate energy.
  • That mentioned, cranking the damper as much as ten doesn’t imply a greater exercise both. It simply means a more durable pull – like attempting to maneuver a rowboat.

We really helpful you goal for a Damper setting between 3 and 5 (which can be the place best rowers have it).

Observe: some indoor rowers use a water tank to create resistance, so any comparable Damper setting controls the quantity of water transferring by the system. You’ll be able to nonetheless use the identical suggestions for damper numbers.

Extra on that right here:

Subsequent, let’s speak about some terminology for the game of rowing itself.

Rowing has been round for hundreds of years and lots of the vocabulary has carried over to the indoor sport.

Rowing Phrases to Know:

#1) Cut up

Cut up time refers back to the time it takes to row 500 meters, often known as the “break up per 500.” This can seemingly be proven prominently in your Show Monitor.

If the quantity goes down, it means you’re going sooner! Woot.

#2) Strokes Per Minute (SPM)

That is additionally known as Stroke Score and it’s precisely what it seems like: the variety of strokes you are taking per minute.

A better SPM doesn’t essentially imply you’re going sooner – you can too go sooner by placing extra energy into every stroke.

#3) Paddle (or Relaxation)

Usually within the sport of rowing, you by no means cease utterly. You simply row or “paddle” somewhat bit simpler.

Kind of such as you do in HIIT exercises.

Nevertheless, if it’s worthwhile to cease utterly in your exercise, don’t stress it. It’s wonderful to even get off the rower every so often…it’s not really a ship.

You do you.

Batman giving thumbs up

Subsequent, we have to talk about the 4 components of the rowing stroke, however we’ll bounce to a brand new part for that.

The 4 Elements of the Rowing Stroke

Woman on row machine

The rowing stroke is damaged out into 4 components:

  1. The Catch
  2. The Drive
  3. The End
  4. The Restoration

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating proper rowing technique

Let’s cowl every.

#1) The Catch

That is the beginning of the stroke:

  • Our knees are bent and our shins are roughly vertical.
  • Our physique leans ahead barely to a couple of 1 o’clock place and our arms are straight.

Like so:

Coach Staci demonstrating the catch position

This places us within the supreme place to generate energy.

#2) The Drive

Because the identify would recommend, that is the place we’ll be driving and producing energy for the stroke.

The order during which we generate energy is vital:

  • It ought to go legs first
  • Then lean again with the physique
  • Then pull with the arms

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating the drive

They need to mix easily proper into one another, so an excellent reminder is:

  1. Legs
  2. Physique
  3. Arms

An amazing drill to observe the Drive: 

Begin with JUST the legs:

Coach Staci demonstrating legs only drill

THEN the legs and a slight backward lean with the physique:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs and leaning body

FINALLY, the legs, physique, and arm pull collectively:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs, body, and arms

This may be executed with or with out the rowing deal with.

Widespread errors with the Drive:

A) Pulling laborious with the arms first. We’ll see the elbows bend early. This drastically decreases the quantity of energy we will put into the stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect form, pulling arms too early

We need to maintain the arms straight and wait till the deal with passes the knees BEFORE we first bend the arms.

B) Letting the physique pull ahead whereas we’re driving with the legs.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, by being pulled forward during the return.

As a substitute, we need to maintain a robust and steady midsection in order that we will go easily from the leg drive to the physique lean.

#3) The End

This might be our place after the Drive:

  • Our legs are prolonged and our physique is leaning again barely.
  • The deal with is about at our photo voltaic plexus.
  • Our shoulders are down and our wrists are straight.

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating correct finish position

An amazing drill to observe the End: simply work on the arm movement. 

Coach Staci demonstrating a rowing drill by just using her arms while leaning.

Hold the legs prolonged and lean again barely. Then pull with simply the arms.

Widespread errors with the End:

A) Shrug the shoulders up by the ears.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with shoulders shrugged

That is usually accompanied by bent wrists and rooster wing arms.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with "chicken wings"

As a substitute, we would like the shoulders down and the elbows nearer to the perimeters, with sufficient house between the arms and physique for a grapefruit to suit.

B) Pulling the deal with too excessive – to the neck or face.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with the handle too high

We wish the deal with down on the photo voltaic plexus, not up orbiting within the photo voltaic system!

C) Leaning again too far – we’re not attempting to carry out the one-person luge right here!

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form leaning too far back

We solely have to lean again barely, at about an 11 o’clock place.

#4) The Restoration

Coach Staci demonstrates proper technique for the recovery

That is how we return again to the beginning place.

  • Simply as we had a correct order for the Drive – legsphysiquearms – we’ll have a correct order for the restoration by reversing it – arms, physique, legs.
  • Straighten the arms, then lean the physique ahead barely, and at last bend the legs to go again to the Catch.

Widespread errors with the Restoration: Bending the legs too early when recovering from the stroke. You’ll know you’re doing this when you must raise the deal with up and over the knees.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, bending the knees too early

As a substitute, look forward to the deal with to PASS the knees earlier than totally bending the legs.

There you’ve got it, the 4 components of the rowing stroke.

You’ll get higher at this as you go, I promise.

Rowing is like golf: the relentless pursuit of the proper stroke.

Happy Gilmore being coached on his swing with caption "it's all in the hips"

One option to test your kind could be to document your self doing a rowing stroke.

If it appears to be like near the gifs and movies discovered on this information, you’re doing nice!

Oh, and in order for you an professional to overview your kind, you are able to do so in our snazzy Teaching app.

You’ll be able to be taught extra right here:

When to Add the Rowing Machine to Your Exercise

A coupe rowing machines in the gym

A rowing machine can match into our exercise in all kinds of the way.

We are able to row:

If you wish to give the rowing machine a whirl, together with it as a part of your warm-up wouldn’t be a nasty concept. Because it’s a full-body train, it’s an effective way to prep our physique for the exercise forward.

To heat up with the rower, goal for about 5-10 minutes at a gentle tempo. 

When you get the grasp of the rower, you possibly can look to include it with a few of these concepts:

#1) Interval Coaching

Interval coaching or HIIT is all about flipping between depth.

Going laborious one second, then resting one other.

So after your warm-up, you may row intensely for 2 minutes, relaxation or “paddle” for a minute or two, then again to depth.

A enjoyable manner to do that is to construct up the period after which pull it again with a “Meter Pyramid.”

To Row a Meter Pyramid:

  • One minute of depth, adopted by one minute of paddle.
  • Two minutes of depth, adopted by two minutes of paddle.
  • Three minutes of depth, adopted by three minutes of paddle.
  • 4 minutes of depth, adopted by 4 minutes of paddle.
  • Three minutes of depth, adopted by three minutes of paddle.
  • Two minutes of depth, adopted by two minutes of paddle.
  • One minute of depth, adopted by one minute of paddle.

In the event you begin this off with a 5-minute warm-up, it’ll take about 37 minutes.

#2) Circuit Coaching

You would additionally combine in another workouts as a part of your rowing exercise. Flipping between rowing and a few body weight workouts, for instance.

Right here’s an instance Row Machine Exercise Circuit:


We might goal for 3-4 circuits right here, however even 1-2 is a superb begin.

#3) Regular State

That is precisely what it seems like: rowing at a relentless tempo.

After a warm-up, discover a tempo you can stick with. Then stick with it.

A very good state of mind right here could be about 50% of your effort, however don’t overthink this.

Placed on an excellent podcast or your favourite playlist, discover a Stroke Charge you possibly can keep for 10-Half-hour, and get rowing.

You’ll be able to fake you’re in a contest if it helps!

Two people rowing outdoors

Additionally, combine and match! The necessary factor is that you just’re performing some sort of exercise. Don’t fret if it doesn’t match into the precise format you discover right here or on different web sites.

For extra concepts right here, take a look at Find out how to Construct Your Personal (Full-Physique) Exercise.

Ought to a Newbie Use a Rowing Machine? (Subsequent Steps)

Team rowing boat in bay

There you’ve got it, my buddy.

You now have every thing it’s worthwhile to get began rowing.

Don’t overstress in case you’re not doing something 100% proper as you begin.

Like something, you’ll get higher at it as you go.

Plus, it’s not such as you’ll be ejected into the water from an indoor rower.

Rower falling overboard

However, if down the street you do need to take it exterior, there are all kinds of leagues and golf equipment you possibly can be part of.

It might be an effective way to get out and make associates!

Granted, you’ll want SOME sort of physique of water round you, however in case you reside subsequent to a lake or massive river, there’s seemingly a staff on the market that will love to fulfill you.

Follow indoors for a bit, then take 20 seconds of braveness to place your self on the market.

What’s 20 seconds of braveness?

We clarify all of it to you on this video:

Oh, and if you wish to proceed having Nerd Health propel your journey, listed below are 3 ways we may also help:

#1) Our On-line Teaching Program: a training program for busy individuals to assist them make higher meals selections, keep accountable, and get more healthy, completely.

If ever you come throughout a snazzy piece of kit and what to learn to use it, your very personal coach may also help you!

Plus, they’ll information your diet and show you how to degree up all areas of your life. 

You’ll be able to schedule a free name with our staff so we will get to know you and see if our teaching program is best for you. Simply click on on the picture under for extra particulars:

#2) If you’d like an actual roadmap for constructing a full-body exercise, take a look at NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app tells you precisely what days to train, what days to relaxation, and helps you observe all of it so you recognize if it’s working for you.


Attempt your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be part of the Revolt! We want good individuals such as you in our group, the Nerd Health Revolt.

Join within the field under to enlist and get our Insurgent Starter Equipment, which incorporates all of our “work out at dwelling” guides, our Energy Coaching 101 eBook, and way more!

Now, your flip:

  • What’s your expertise with row machines?
  • Do you utilize them as a part of your coaching?
  • Any exercises I’m lacking?

Let me know within the feedback!



Photograph supply: vadymvdrobot ©, Legoland Somerville (Boston), indoor rower, nd3000 ©, malkovkosta ©


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