Full Body Function with Rowing Machine

While you are waiting for a class at the studio, try out a rowing machine in the gym to jump start your warm up and get connected with the full body feeling of movement. After working all day in an office environment, some people need more time to get the body working as a unit. Isolating muscles to increase strength, mobility and awareness is great but it works best when you can get it working that way in movement patterns too. Lots of pulling and pushing sensations in rowing!

Rowing Technique 101

Rowing is extremely effective in working your whole body from head to toe; quads, hamstrings, back, abdominals, arms, shoulders and calves are all used in the rowing stroke. Depending on how you train, you can increase your aerobic fitness or focus on building muscle strength and explosive power.

Mistake #1: Forgetting to check the damper setting.

Some people are not aware that there is a damper setting to adjust, the lever on the side of the air-resistant flywheel on a Concept II rower. If the lever is on a higher setting, the rowing machine will feel more like a heavy rowboat and might exhaust your muscles too early in the workout.

The fix: Practice your form before you set your sights high. The damper setting is like gears on a bicycle -the higher the gear, the heavier the feel on the body. Start somewhere between a three and a five, if you’re new to rowing. (It’s most similar to the feel of being on water.)

Mistake #2: Rowing with only your arms.

Putting too much pressure on your arms, shoulders and back can cause serious injury to your body.

The fix: Roughly 60 percent of your power should come from pushing with the legs, 20 percent from bracing the core and 20 percent from pulling with the arms. It’s important to use the power of your legs for each stroke by pushing against the panel (foot stretcher) where your feet are strapped in. Elbows pass the body but not too far out from it.

Mistake #3: Mixing up the order of operations.

Firing the arms and legs at the same time might feel like the right thing to do when you sit down. But if you’re all systems go, you’ll put unnecessary strain on your upper body.

The fix: There’s a three-step process to the rowing stroke. Focus on pushing with the legs first. Next, pivot backward at the hips so your shoulders pass your pelvis (you should be in a slight lay back from a 1 o’clock position to 11 o’clock). Then, pull the arms into your chest. A good target for your hands is where you would bench press or the bottom of the sports bra, below your ribs. Once your hands are pulled into your chest, reverse the order to go back to starting position, and repeat.

Mistake #4: Hunching your back during the stroke.

If you’ve got a bad habit of rounding your back when concentrating at a desk, odds are good that your body will naturally assume that same position when you sit down at a rower.

The fix: You want to sit tall with a stacked posture, focusing on “turning on” your abdominal muscles, or engaging your core. Also relax your shoulders so they are pulled back and down. Your spine should always be in neutral. Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed.

Mistake #5: Banging your butt into your heels or rushing.

You’re in the zone, taking strokes as fast as possible towards your imaginary finish line. Problem is, your seat keeps slamming into the front of the rower and your body is jerking forward uncontrollably.

The fix: To regain control, pay attention to timing of your strokes. The stroke’s ratio should be a 1:2 count. That means your body should expend lots of energy quickly at the drive, when the legs are pushing and arms are pulling. The second half of the stroke should be more relaxed and controlled. Having a calm and collected recovery will prevent your seat from smashing frantically into the front of the rower.

Mistake #6: Shooting your butt out and having to jerk your upper body back.

If your legs are pushing quickly and causing your rear to shoot out ahead of the rest of you, your upper body will have to awkwardly catch up. Doing extra work to jerk your top half around will make your stroke less efficient, and can cause injury.

The fix: Make sure your abs are turned on, so the hands and feet stay connected. Engaging the core is key to smoothly connecting the movements of the upper and lower body. For efficient rowing, you want to be able to stop at any point during the stroke and be in a “strong position.” That means your entire body has a deliberate and controlled posture with key muscles activated.

Edited from the original Daily Burn article.


There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Laurie
    3 hours ago

    Is there a rowing machine at Quadra Fitness that we are allowed to use?!

    1. Justina Author
      8 hours ago

      Yes, there is. You can also receive a discounted rate for a monthly membership when you are a Studio Fitness client.


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