Use Rowing Exercise Machines: Technique and Training

The Benefits of Proper Equipment Usage

Using rowing machines

An indoor rowing machine offers a great full-body workout that tones muscle and burns fat.  

Here, we'll go over the basic features of the average rowing machine, what a proper rowing style consists of, and some gadgets that can be added on for additional benefits. Here's how to use these exercise machines:

  1. PROPER ADJUSTMENT AND GRIP One of the first things you'll do when using a rowing machine is adjust the foot straps. Make sure that your heel is resting comfortably against the base of the foot pedal and that the strap has been secured. You may be tempted to go barefoot, but the pressure from rowing will make this an uncomfortable choice for the soles of your feet. Take the extra minute to lace up a pair of sneakers.

    As a novice, the resistance on your rower should be set at a low level. Setting too high of a resistance will cause your upper body muscles to tire faster. Why cut your aerobic workout short? Save the heavy resistance for your weight training routine.

    A proper rowing grip is one that is firm, but relaxed. A grip that is too tight will cause your forearms and hands to fatigue faster. Your grip can be either overhand or underhand, and alternating between the two during a long workout will decrease arm fatigue.

  2. PROPER BODY MECHANICS Your rowing technique while using a rowing machine is important, just as with any other exercise. In particular, a rowing machine user with poor form is at risk for back strain. To avoid straining your back, use primarily your leg and hip muscles. Don't overarch your back as you finish each stroke. Sit up straight and bend forward at the hips. Your elbows should remain close to your body when pulling the oars or handles.

    There are three main phases of rowing training: the catch, the power stroke, and the recovery. The catch phase position is when you come forward on the rower. Your knees are bent and against your chest. Your upper body is leaning slightly forward while still maintaining good posture. That is, your back isn't hunched over and your head is up.

    The power stroke is when you push against the foot pedals and extend your legs while bringing your hands to your upper abdominal area. Exhale as you do this. At full extension, lean back a little for maximum benefit. Avoid leaning back too far, though. Overarching puts you at risk for back strain.

    The recovery phase simply involves straightening your arms, bending the knees, and bringing your body forward again. A successful rower blends three of these phases into one another. Avoid jerky movements.

  3. BELLS AND WHISTLES Great! You've mastered the mechanics of machine rowing-both electronically and biologically. There are all sorts of neat things to attach to your rowing machine. Some rowing equipment additions are purely for comfort, like a padded seat. Other add-ons are for safety, like a wireless heart rate monitor that transmits data to the LCD screen.

    If you'd rather experience realistic water rowing, then a slide is for you. This platform is placed under your rowing machine and mimics the motions of the water as an outdoor rower would feel it.

You can also buy a cover for your indoor rower, but I wouldn't bother with it. A better alternative is to use your machine for fitness training on a regular basis to prevent the dust from settling. So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know the benefits of rowing machines, strap yourself in and start on your way to a better body.


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