If you are a newrower, it can seem like an extremely intimidating machine to tackle. Are you supposed to use your feet more than your arms, or the other way around? How are you supposed to keep your feet from slipping out of the straps?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Using a rowing machine for the first time can be strange if you aren’t sure what you are doing. It is important to remember that a rower is about the power you are using and not the speed you are going at. If your back is sore when you are finished, you are doing it wrong.
Terms to Be Aware Of
Strokes per Minute
This refers to how many times you row in a minute. You should try to keep this number between 26 and 30 if possible. This machine is more about power than anything.
This is known as the amount of time it takes to row 1/3 of a mile (500 meters). It should take about 2 minutes or less to reach this time. If you need to increase the pace you are rowing at, push out with more power.
This is when you hold the oar with extended arms, bent knees, and push all of your weight to the balls of your feet. You need to keep your back straight and your core engaged, then push back using your legs only.
Once you’ve gotten used to pushing with your lower body, you can practice arm isolations. Put your legs straight out and pull the oar up towards your chest. Bend your elbows out and away from you, pulling the oar to the bottom of your chest.
Focus on using your upper back to pull the oar toward you. Think of it as the same motion as a bent-over row.
Put It Together
Keeping your back straight and your core engaged, push all of your weight to your heels. First, push backwards with your lower body, then pull your hands toward your chest. Release your arms from the movement first, then bend your knees. An easy way to think of it is: legs, arms, arms, legs.
Do not hunch your back because your shoulders will be doing all of the work. To avoid this, push your shoulders back and down. Keep your back straight and your core engaged the entire time.
Avoid a scooping motion when you are rowing. If you bend your knees before you are finished with your arm movement, you will naturally make a scooping motion to avoid hitting your legs with the oar. To avoid this, make sure you follow through with all motions completely.
It is also important to make sure you are not pulling the oar up too high. If you are hitting your chin or your throat, you are using more energy than necessary, and it is improper form. To fix this problem, bring the oar to the bottom of your chest instead of the top.
Don’t let your knees drop out to the side of the machine. This means you’re not engaging your inner thighs or using your hips properly. To correct this, make sure your knees are always in line with your hips.
Wrapping it Up
When you are using a row machine for the first time, it is hard to know exactly what you are supposed to do for the most effective workout. The most important thing to do is make sure you follow through with each movement before moving on to the next and making sure you have proper form the whole time.