The rowing machine has had a resurrection as of late, but what appears to be a simple cardio tool is actually a total-body workout that can sear your lungs, fry your legs and toast your core. Here’s how to row your way — not so gently — down the stream, burning up to 9 calories a minute!
- Adjust the footpads so the straps cross the instep of your shoes. It should feel snug and your feet should not move around underneath the straps.
- The catch is the start of the stroke. Imagine your oars above the water poised to go in. In this position, your arms should be extended, your knees bent, your shins vertical, and your back straight and parallel with your thighs. You can lean forward slightly from your hips but not so much that your back rounds.
- During the drive, push forcefully through your feet, extending your legs and sliding the seat backward along the track. The majority of the work is done during this phase, and this is when your oars would hit the water.
- Only when you’ve come almost to full extension of your legs do you begin pulling with your arms. Sit upright as you pull the handle in toward your abdomen, elbows by your sides. At the finish, your legs should be extended, your shoulders slightly behind your hips and your elbows bent with the bar against your abs.
- During the recovery, slide slowly back to the start, reversing the order of the steps during the drive phase — extending your arms, then bending your legs.
- Most rowing machines have a damper setting of 1 to 10, in which you increase or decrease the amount of air that goes into the fan. The higher the setting, the more challenging the strokes will be. A setting around 5 is sufficient for a killer workout.
- Keep your elbows in by your sides during all phases of the stroke. Don’t let them flare out because this shifts the work from the back muscles to the arms and shoulders.
Do It Better
Follow these four tips to get the most out of your rowing workout.
• If you feel a “pulling” in your back, you’re using too much arm and upper body and not enough legs.
• Take an overhand, light grip on the bar with your wrists straight to generate the most power and prevent strains. At the start, your arms should be fully extended and about parallel to the floor. Your hands should never rise above chest level at any point during the workout.
• Exhale during the drive phase and inhale during the recovery.
• Never hunch forward or round your back. This disengages your back muscles and could lead to back strain or an injury to your spine.