Tips on how to Use a Rowing Machine (3 Exercises)


Man using row machine

The rowing machine – it’s so scorching proper now.

Rowing courses are in every single place. It’s straightforward to seek out skilled and Olympic athletes hyping up the machine’s means to offer a full-body exercise.

All superb and good…however how do you really use the factor?

Welp my good friend, you’ve come to the fitting place to seek out out.

Many purchasers in our Online Coaching Program inform us they need to begin rowing, however they don’t understand how. As we speak, we’ll clarify how we get them going with row machine exercises.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Alright, you prepared?

Let’s row, row, row your rower.

Tips on how to Use a Rowing Machine (Video Tutorial)

Within the video above, Coach Staci explains the ins and outs of utilizing a rowing machine.

What? Who’s Staci?

Welp, she’s a Senior Coach right here at Nerd Health and an all-around badass powerlifter.

She additionally is aware of a factor or two about utilizing a rowing machine, since she’s gotten a number of CrossFit certs (they love the rowing machine at CrossFit).

In the event you’re going to find out about utilizing a rowing machine, she’s not a nasty particular person to speak to.

However first, let’s again up right here a bit…

What Are the Advantages of Utilizing a Rowing Machine?

Team of Lego men rowing a boat

The rowing machine was initially invented for water rowers to coach low season.

You may hear the indoor rowing machine referred to as an ergometer, or “erg” or “ergo.” They get this title since rowing machines typically measure the power produced from the exercise in items of ergs.

Animation of the words

They’ve grown in recognition, as a result of this one stationary machine presents plenty of neat options.

For instance, the advantages of the rowing machine embody:

Alright, let’s now go over some terminology so you recognize what’s what with the ergometer.

Rowing Machine 101: Phrases to Know

Row machine

In terms of the rowing machine, there’s some vocabulary that may be price discussing shortly.

First, let’s chat in regards to the rower itself.

Right here Are the Elements of the Rowing Machine:

#1) Foot Plate – irrespective of the rower, there will probably be a spot so that you can strap your ft in.

Strapping feet into row machine

You’ll need to set your ft in order that the strap goes over the ball of your foot. This can assist you to have essentially the most highly effective stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating proper stroke technique

You must be capable to raise your heel on this place.

#2) Deal with – additionally referred to as “the bar.” This replicates the handles of an oar.

Your palms ought to be roughly shoulder-width aside.

#3) Rail – the central beam of the rower, which permits the seat to roll ahead and again.

#4) Show Monitor – whereas these will differ from mannequin to mannequin, the rower will usually have a display screen to indicate some primary data:

And so forth.

For the Concept2 mannequin – the rower Coach Staci demonstrates above – you possibly can hit any button and choose “Simply Row.”

Demonstration of monitor for Concept2 row machine

This would be the best method to get going.

#5) The Damper – The lever on the facet of the flywheel housing (or fan cage) that controls airflow.

Demonstration of row machine damper

The distinction in Damper settings:

Consider this kind of like bicycle gears – it impacts how the rowing feels however doesn’t essentially replicate the resistance:

We really useful you purpose for a Damper setting between 3 and 5 (which can also be the place best rowers have it).

Notice: some indoor rowers use a water tank to create resistance, so any comparable Damper setting controls the quantity of water transferring by way of the system. You possibly can nonetheless use the identical suggestions for damper numbers.

Extra on that right here:

Subsequent, let’s speak about some terminology for the game of rowing itself.

Rowing has been round for hundreds of years and plenty of the vocabulary has carried over to the indoor sport.

Rowing Phrases to Know:

#1) Break up

Break up time refers back to the time it takes to row 500 meters, often known as the “break up per 500.” This can possible be proven prominently in your Show Monitor.

If the quantity goes down, it means you’re going sooner! Woot.

#2) Strokes Per Minute (SPM)

That is additionally referred to as Stroke Ranking and it’s precisely what it feels like: the variety of strokes you’re taking per minute.

A better SPM doesn’t essentially imply you’re going sooner – it’s also possible to go sooner by placing extra energy into every stroke.

#3) Paddle (or Relaxation)

Usually within the sport of rowing, you by no means cease utterly. You simply row or “paddle” a little bit bit simpler.

Type of such as you do in HIIT workouts.

Nonetheless, if it’s good to cease utterly in your exercise, don’t stress it. It’s superb to even get off the rower infrequently…it’s not really a ship.

You do you.

Batman giving thumbs up

Subsequent, we have to talk about the 4 components of the rowing stroke, however we’ll soar to a brand new part for that.

The 4 Elements of the Rowing Stroke

Woman on row machine

The rowing stroke is damaged out into 4 components:

  1. The Catch
  2. The Drive
  3. The End
  4. The Restoration

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating proper rowing technique

Let’s cowl every.

#1) The Catch

That is the beginning of the stroke:

Like so:

Coach Staci demonstrating the catch position

This places us within the ultimate place to generate energy.

#2) The Drive

Because the title would counsel, that is the place we’ll be driving and producing energy for the stroke.

The order wherein we generate energy is essential:

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating the drive

They need to mix easily proper into one another, so a great reminder is:

  1. Legs
  2. Physique
  3. Arms

An amazing drill to apply the Drive: 

Begin with JUST the legs:

Coach Staci demonstrating legs only drill

THEN the legs and a slight backward lean with the physique:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs and leaning body

FINALLY, the legs, physique, and arm pull collectively:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs, body, and arms

This may be finished with or with out the rowing deal with.

Frequent errors with the Drive:

A) Pulling exhausting with the arms first. We’ll see the elbows bend early. This tremendously decreases the quantity of energy we are able to put into the stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect form, pulling arms too early

We need to preserve the arms straight and wait till the deal with passes the knees BEFORE we first bend the arms.

B) Letting the physique pull ahead whereas we’re driving with the legs.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, by being pulled forward during the return.

As an alternative, we need to preserve a robust and steady midsection in order that we are able to go easily from the leg drive to the physique lean.

#3) The End

This will probably be our place after the Drive:

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating correct finish position

An amazing drill to apply the End: simply work on the arm movement. 

Coach Staci demonstrating a rowing drill by just using her arms while leaning.

Hold the legs prolonged and lean again barely. Then pull with simply the arms.

Frequent errors with the End:

A) Shrug the shoulders up by the ears.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with shoulders shrugged

That is typically accompanied by bent wrists and rooster wing arms.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with "chicken wings"

As an alternative, we wish the shoulders down and the elbows nearer to the perimeters, with sufficient house between the arms and physique for a grapefruit to suit.

B) Pulling the deal with too excessive – to the neck or face.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with the handle too high

We would like the deal with down on the photo voltaic plexus, not up orbiting within the photo voltaic system!

C) Leaning again too far – we’re not attempting to carry out the one-person luge right here!

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form leaning too far back

We solely have to lean again barely, at about an 11 o’clock place.

#4) The Restoration

Coach Staci demonstrates proper technique for the recovery

That is how we return again to the beginning place.

Frequent errors with the Restoration: Bending the legs too early when recovering from the stroke. You’ll know you’re doing this when you must raise the deal with up and over the knees.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, bending the knees too early

As an alternative, anticipate the deal with to PASS the knees earlier than totally bending the legs.

There you might have it, the 4 components of the rowing stroke.

You’ll get higher at this as you go, I promise.

Rowing is like golf: the relentless pursuit of the right stroke.

Happy Gilmore being coached on his swing with caption "it's all in the hips"

One method to verify your type can be to document your self doing a rowing stroke.

If it seems to be near the gifs and movies discovered on this information, you’re doing nice!

Oh, and if you would like an knowledgeable to assessment your type, you are able to do so in our snazzy Teaching app.

You possibly can be taught extra right here:

When to Add the Rowing Machine to Your Exercise

A coupe rowing machines in the gym

A rowing machine can match into our exercise in all types of the way.

We are able to row:

If you wish to give the rowing machine a whirl, together with it as a part of your warm-up wouldn’t be a nasty thought. Because it’s a full-body train, it’s an effective way to prep our physique for the exercise forward.

To heat up with the rower, purpose for about 5-10 minutes at a gentle tempo. 

When you get the cling of the rower, you possibly can look to include it with a few of these concepts:

#1) Interval Coaching

Interval coaching or HIIT is all about flipping between depth.

Going exhausting one second, then resting one other.

So after your warm-up, you possibly can row intensely for 2 minutes, relaxation or “paddle” for a minute or two, then again to depth.

A enjoyable method to do that is to construct up the length after which pull it again with a “Meter Pyramid.”

To Row a Meter Pyramid:

  • One minute of depth, adopted by one minute of paddle.
  • Two minutes of depth, adopted by two minutes of paddle.
  • Three minutes of depth, adopted by three minutes of paddle.
  • 4 minutes of depth, adopted by 4 minutes of paddle.
  • Three minutes of depth, adopted by three minutes of paddle.
  • Two minutes of depth, adopted by two minutes of paddle.
  • One minute of depth, adopted by one minute of paddle.

In the event you begin this off with a 5-minute warm-up, it’ll take about 37 minutes.

#2) Circuit Training

You might additionally combine in another workouts as a part of your rowing exercise. Flipping between rowing and a few bodyweight exercises, for instance.

Right here’s an instance Row Machine Exercise Circuit:


We may purpose for 3-4 circuits right here, however even 1-2 is a good begin.

#3) Regular State

That is precisely what it feels like: rowing at a relentless tempo.

After a warm-up, discover a tempo which you can stick with. Then stick with it.

way of thinking right here can be about 50% of your effort, however don’t overthink this.

Placed on a great podcast or your favourite playlist, discover a Stroke Price you possibly can keep for 10-Half-hour, and get rowing.

You possibly can fake you’re in a contest if it helps!

Two people rowing outdoors

Additionally, combine and match! The necessary factor is that you just’re doing a little sort of exercise. Don’t fret if it doesn’t match into the precise format you discover right here or on different web sites.

For extra concepts right here, try How to Build Your Own (Full-Body) Workout.

Ought to a Newbie Use a Rowing Machine? (Subsequent Steps)

Team rowing boat in bay

There you might have it, my good friend.

You now have every little thing it’s good to get began rowing.

Don’t overstress if you happen to’re not doing something 100% proper as you begin.

Like something, you’ll get higher at it as you go.

Plus, it’s not such as you’ll be ejected into the water from an indoor rower.

Rower falling overboard

However, if down the highway you do need to take it outdoors, there are all types of leagues and golf equipment you possibly can be part of.

It might be an effective way to get out and make associates!

Granted, you’ll want SOME sort of physique of water round you, however if you happen to dwell subsequent to a lake or massive river, there’s possible a staff on the market that may love to fulfill you.

Follow indoors for a bit, then take 20 seconds of braveness to place your self on the market.

What’s 20 seconds of braveness?

We clarify all of it to you on this video:

Oh, and if you wish to proceed having Nerd Health propel your journey, listed here are 3 ways we may also help:

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: a training program for busy individuals to assist them make higher meals selections, keep accountable, and get more healthy, completely.

If ever you come throughout a snazzy piece of apparatus and what to discover ways to use it, your very personal coach may also help you!

Plus, they will information your vitamin and enable you stage up all areas of your life. 

You possibly can schedule a free name with our staff so we are able to get to know you and see if our teaching program is best for you. Simply click on on the picture under for extra particulars:

#2) If you’d like a precise roadmap for constructing a full-body exercise, try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app tells you precisely what days to train, what days to relaxation, and helps you observe all of it so you recognize if it’s working for you.


Strive your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be a part of the Rise up! We’d like good individuals such as you in our group, the Nerd Health Rise up.

Join within the field under to enlist and get our Insurgent Starter Package, which incorporates all of our “work out at dwelling” guides, our Power Coaching 101 eBook, and rather more!

Now, your flip:

  • What’s your expertise with row machines?
  • Do you employ them as a part of your coaching?
  • Any exercises I’m lacking?

Let me know within the feedback!



Photograph supply: vadymvdrobot ©, Legoland Somerville (Boston), indoor rower, nd3000 ©, malkovkosta ©

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