Now that you have seen the health benefits of rowing machines, you are probably ready to get started using one of these pieces of gym equipment. Whenever you are about to use a new piece of equipment at the gym or home, it is a good idea to first familiarize yourself with the best use practices.
This way, you will reduce the chances of injury as well as maintain proper form so that you get a great full body workout. So, before you start working out on the rower, first read up on the tips provided below for proper use of a rowing machine.
If you bought an indoor rowing machine for home use, then you need to select a place for it that offers ample space for the full arc of the rowing motion. And the floor that you put it on needs to be a level, solid one.
If you have not yet purchased your machine, you can measure your available space first and then compare it to the specs of machines that you’re considering to ensure that you get something that is a good fit. Keep in mind that some home rowing machines can be folded and stored in a vertical position when they are not in use.
Areas of The Body The Machine Targets
The great thing about a rowing machine is that it gives you a great full body workout that ones both your upper and lower body. Your shoulders are the most targeted area of your upper body that will get the most workout and toned.
And your legs and glutes are the area of the lower body that get the most targeted toning from your workouts.
Choosing a machine with a seat that slides with your stroke movement offers the best chance at toning your lower body. Those machines with stationary seats do not offer the lower body toning capability that the sliding seat models offer.
Even if you have to spend a little more for this design, it is totally worth it for your health and fitness.
Employing the proper form and positioning is vital when it comes to getting the most out of your rowing machine. Correct form and posture tones and works you out in the all the right places while preventing any injuries to your back due to strain from improper form.
As you gain confidence and comfort using the machine, you can boost up the resistance level to give your body a more challenging workout.
Get The Most From Your Rowing Machine Workouts
Before jumping on the machine, do yourself a favor and get acquainted with how to use a rowing machine so that you use it with the proper form and technique as to avoid any back strain injuries and get the most benefits from the rowing machine.
Using correct form also ensures that you build that core strength while targeting the upper and lower body for some targeted toning that is great for your overall health and personal fitness. You’ll also find that using a rower can be a great part of a training regiment for other sports and activities.
Knowing proper rowing techniques enables you to get the most out of your use of the equipment. The actual motion itself is a natural one for the body, so it should be a nice fluid, natural position for you once you get going.
Though the basic rowing machine position may seem a bit tricky to maneuver at first, you will easily fall into a comfortable feeling with as it you experience the powerful toning transformation of the movements.
Whether you are looking for a recommended rowing machine workout plan or just the common rowing machine positions, you can find that info right here. So keep reading for some rower workout tips so that you get the most from the time you spend doing your fitness routine on this equipment.
Effectively Using A Rowing Machine
When you are ready to use your rower, just get on the machine and get into the starting position. You will want to secure your feet into the straps so that they do not slip while you’re in motion.
Keep the straps snug enough that you don’t move but loose enough that you’re comfortable.
When you grip the handles, your hands should go over top and not underneath. Otherwise, you won’t have as much power and be able to achieve the same fluid motions.
Plus, you can stress your joints if you’re not pulling the oar handles correctly.
Starting Position – The Catch
The rowing stroke itself should be one continuous motion.
You get in the starting point, which is referred to as the catch, with your knees bent or flexed so that the shins are vertical and your arms and shoulders are reaching forward.
If you’ve rowed on water, then you’ll notice that this position actually mimics when the oar is placed into the water before you transition into the drive phase of the rowing stroke.
This position sets you up so that you can exert maximum power as you move into the drive position, which is the next form in the rowing stroke.
The Drive Position
The drive phase of the stroke starts as soon as you extend your legs from the catch position.
As you extend your lower body, the arms stay straight until the point where your knees are mostly extended.
Once that happens, you should flex your elbows and bring the oar handle to your upper stomach while extending your back.
In order for your rowing machine workout to deliver a good cardio routine, your drive needs to be powerful.
Maintaining a tight core while in the drive position gives you that power and helps prevent back strain.
The Recovery Position Phase
After completing the drive phase of your rowing stroke, you enter the recovery phase. This is basically just when you are returning to the catch position so that you can repeat the whole rowing stroke process over again.
The recovery position starts where the drive position ends, with your arms and hands moving away from your body as you extend your elbows while the upper body glides forward over your hips as the same time as your hands are moving by your knees. Your knees start to flex as the seat slides into the catch position.
See the transition between the positions in the GIF below.
Rowing Machine Proper Form Tips
As you use the rower, it is easy to remember the proper form for the positions like this:
Catch phase => arms extended — torso forward — legs bent
Drive phase => legs extended — torso back — arms bent
When using a rower for the first time, start out with the resistance setting on a low level until you get a good feel for the machine and the hand of correct form and posture. As you get comfortable, you can raise the resistance level.
Typically, machines have resistance levels that go up to 10, with that being the highest or most resistance. Those new to rowing machines should go no higher than a three on the resistance, at least initially.
On new machines, the resistance level is usually changed on the digital display. But if you have an older (or even a cheaper) machine, then you’ll likely just have a resistance knob down near your feet that you have to turn to raise or lower the level of resistance.
Common Rowing Machine Workout Mistakes
A typical user error that occurs on rowing machines is when you let your knees flex before your hands pass over the knees during the recovery phase of the stroke. The reason that this is a problem is because it forces you to lift up the oar handle over the knees before you come into the catch position, and that can result in an injury.
Another common user error is if you let the seat slide out from under you before the handle moves back in the drive position. The problem with this error is that it can result in a back injury if enough force is used.
When you do the rowing stroke, the effort put into it is a combo of the resistance setting and the stroke rate. And the slower your stroke rate, the more stress you are putting on your back.
For long aerobic workouts on the machine, you should put the resistance setting lower. As a beginner, aim for 15 minutes of aerobic training that starts with a 5-minute warm-up period and ends with a 5-minute cool down period.
After rowing regularly for weeks or months, you can (and should) increase the length of your workout as your fitness level increases. Both resistance and stroke rate should be increased because if you attempt to use a lower stroke rater with a higher resistance, then you run the risk of a back injury.
In your workouts, the pace needs to be reached over three to five strokes (or more). For your warm-up, do some slow and easy strokes for about five minutes.
This boosts the benefits of your workout and reduces that chance of injury. Do NOT make a sudden hard as possible pull in an attempt to maximize your efforts in a single to two strokes.
This puts a sudden and severe stress on your lower back and can cause a painful injury.
When it comes to proper positioning, focus on using your legs to push and not your back. This prevent injury and maximizes the toning benefits of your workout.
You should also focus on smooth, fluid movements instead of jerky or choppy ones. Proper posture is also important.
Resist the urge to lean forward in the catch position or backward when finishing the stroke.
By following the tips above, you can get the most benefits from your workout.