How to Use a Rowing Machine

Using a rowing machine may seem something intuitive, but you need to have a certain body posture and work at a certain intensity level in order to maximize the effectiveness of rowing. Once you learn some details regarding these aspects, you will notice results. Rowing machines allow you to work several muscle groups at a time. Training sessions of 20 to 40 minutes will also improve your cardiovascular system.

Exercise Phases and Body Posture

An adequate rowing stroke includes 4 steps, namely:

  • Drive
  • Finish
  • Recovery
  • Catch

Before starting, however, you have to make sure that you have the correct body posture. Sit on the seat and secure your feet with the straps of the foot pads. Use an overhand grip to take the handles into your hands. Maintain your wrists parallel to the ground while extending your arms in the direction of the flywheel. Slide on the seat toward the flywheel, till the shins are vertical.

The Drive Phase

During this phase, you have to extend the legs and apply pressure on the foot pads. The core needs to be maintained tight, the back stable and the arms straight. If you pay attention to these details related to your body posture, the power will be transferred to the handles more effectively. Next, you have to straighten your knees and simultaneously bend your arms progressively.

The Finish Phase

In this phase, the elbows are bent and you need to pull the handles towards your abdominal area. The phase is terminated with the extension of the legs and with a slight back arch.

The Recovery Phase

You have to straighten your elbows in order to extend the arms. The handle is pushed in the direction of the flywheel. The upper body needs to bend forward at the hips. The knees are bent slowly and the seat slides forward to the position in which the exercise begins.

The Catch Phase

In this phase you have to adopt the same position as the one in which you start rowing. The wrists are maintained parallel to the ground while the arms are extended in the direction of the flywheel. Sliding on the seat is necessary until the shins are vertical. Begin another stroke.

Mistakes to Avoid

Your lower back can be affected if you do not adopt a proper body posture while rowing. In order to avoid stress in that area, you have to make sure that you do not lean too far back during the Finish phase. The same effect is obtained when leaning too far forward in the Catch phase, so this needs to be avoided, too. Stress on the lower back also increases when this area is used instead of the legs for starting the Drive phase.

As mentioned before, the duration and the intensity of the exercise influence the effectiveness of the training. Exercising at a great speed for prolonged periods of time will inflict damage to the muscles, and will cause effects that range from pain to severe strains. The first training session should not exceed 10 minutes. The duration must be increased gradually.


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