The Power of The Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is by far one of the best; if not the best tools for getting in shape – fast. Though intimidating at first glance, the rower is used by thousands for conditioning when running and biking are not an option. And it’s personally my favorite workout tool. I use it to take my workouts to a new level.

By the time you finish reading this, you will know how to set-up and use the rower in creating intense, yet effective workouts.

It’s All In The Set-up

The first step in using a rower is to make sure you set up the foot straps correctly. Most rowers have adjustable foot stretchers for different size feet. I found the best success comes when the strap rests across the middle of my foot.

When you find the proper length, pull the straps snuggly keeping your feet in the perfect rowing position. From there I like to keep my hands wider on the handles since I have wider shoulders.

How To Row

In all my years of using rowers, I’ve found proper technique the most elusive. We didn’t live near water growing up so I’ve never rowed a boat. That meant learning proper technique was priority number one.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who’ve rowed a boat, this will make sense. As you begin to pull on the handle, you want to keep your arms straight (elbows locked). I like to think of rowing as a deadlift and an upright row – in a seated position. Meaning, I push through my feet driving with my legs. As my knees lockout, I pull in my arms bringing the handles to my chest.

So I drive with my legs then pull with my arms. When I go forward I do everything in reverse. I extend my arms, then bend my knees and move towards the foot straps. Now keep in mind rowing efficiently is NOT about speed. It’s about how hard you drive with your legs and pull with your arms.

Sample Workouts

Before you give up on the idea of following a couple of my favorite workouts, keep in mind everything is modifiable. Never push yourself harder than you feel comfortable with. That’s why I pay attention to how I feel before I strap in and use the rower in a workout. But here are a couple of my favorites.

Workout #1

Three sets of:

  • 500-meter row
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 sit-ups
  • 25 squats

I like to add a little spice to this workout by adding extra resistance or weight to my push-ups and squats. Though this doesn’t look like much, it leaves me feeling great each time I do it.

Workout #2

32 rounds of:

  • 20 sprint rowing
  • 10 rest

This workout takes sixteen minutes to complete and leaves me gassed, but amazing.

Coming Full Circle

I love the rower for several reasons: It works on my conditioning, upper and lowers back strength not to mention increasing my leg strength. It’s a staple in my workouts at least twice a week. The options are limited only by my imagination.

Happy rowing!