The rowing machine can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it's an effective way to spice up your cardio routine.
The rowing machine can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it's an effective way to spice up your cardio routine. But while the rowing machine, also called an ergometer, is a calorie buster (about 280 calories in 30 minutes for an 130-pound woman) and a good leg and core workout, improper form can lead to back injuries if you're not careful. Read on for our tips on proper rowing form.
Before you start, there are a few things to note about using the rowing machine. Make sure you wear formfitting clothes, otherwise you risk getting fabric caught in it while working out. Don't set the resistance too high — experienced rowers generally use the rowing machine at 3-5 during their workouts, so setting the machine at 2 or 3 is perfect for a beginner. Keep your strokes per minute somewhere in the low- to mid-20s as well.
There are different ways to measure your workout, so use the change display button on your machine to track your strokes per minute, calories burned, kilometers traveled, or your split (how many minutes it takes you to travel 500 meters).
- For your first row, set the resistance low while you figure out your form, then slowly ramp it up on subsequent rows.
- Secure your feet on the pads with the straps tight enough so your feet don't move around as you slide.
- Bring your knees up and slide to the top of the machine. Grab the handle using an overhand grip, but don't hold too tightly.
- Pull the handle with you as you slide to the end of the machine. Your legs should be straight, but knees should still have a slight bend in them so they aren't locked. Lean back slightly and pull your hands up to your chest, holding the handle so it is right below your breasts, with elbows pointing down against your sides. This is the position where you should begin your workout, and it's also your ending position once you complete a full stroke (see below).
Keep reading for the rest of our tips for proper rowing machine form.