Here’s how to make the most of that rowing machine at the gym to strengthen your arms, back, legs and improve cardiovascular health, plus tips to prevent injuries.
Health benefits of the rowing machine
- Rowing is one of the best full-body workouts, because it engages both the upper and lower body, strengthening muscles while increasing cardio fitness and endurance.
- It is also both low-impact and high-intensity, which means that it’s easier on the body than, for example, running, but you still reap the benefits of cardio workout.
- Rowing is accessible for all fitness levels.
- It’s great for calorie burn and warms you up quickly – making it a great addition to winter gym workouts.
How to use the rowing machine
- The rowing machine stimulates the action of water rowing and was initially created to train and exercise competitive rowers, but, because of its benefits (see above), it’s now used by all kinds of people.
- Modern machines are often called “ergometers or erg machines”. The machine is very easy to use, but is often used with bad form, so read below to ensure your form is correct:
- When getting on, start on a low resistance level until you’re comfortable. Strap your feet in, switch on the monitor and row:
- Sit straight on the rowing machine seat with your arms straight out, holding the handles, knees and ankles flexed and back upright. This is called the “catch”.
- Start by pushing your legs, to straighten, keeping your core contracted. Hinge your hips and lean back about 45 degrees, followed by the movement of your arms as you pull the rowing machine handle towards your torso. This is called the “drive” and should feel like a full-body flow.
- You copy the drive movements but in reverse order to return to the “catch” position. You extend your arms, hinge the hips and bring your torso over the legs, bending your knees.
Prevent injury with these tips
- Make sure to straighten your back, not rounding over. Slumping can put stress on the shoulders and back.
- Engage your core during workouts to support your lower back and hips.
- As a beginner, you must focus on maintaining the form rather than doing more strokes.