The rowing machine is a necessary evil.  It belongs in your program at some point or another.  It can be a fantastic conditioning tool or even a low-impact form of recovery.

How do we maximize our performance on the rower?  What is the most efficient way to row?  Here are some tips to get you rowing like a beast!

Rowing is a Game of Positions

When starting your row, it’s important to understand that your positions need to be strong.  When grabbing the handle, you should have your feet flat on the pedals with your back tight, your core braced, and your eyes forward.  This position is optimal to engage the right musculature quickly and also keep your posture open for airflow.

Once you engage the pull, you should initiate with the legs, then follow through by extending the hips and then pull with the arms.  Finish with the handle near your chest as you lean back.  Smoothly return to your starting position and begin the next pull.  

You Need Rhythm 

As mentioned above, there is a synchronicity between movements that is required.  The rhythm starts with the lower body and transitions through the core to the upper body.  If any of these muscle groups are out of sync, the pull will look awkward and inefficient.

Breathing is also an important part of the rhythm.  Focus on inhaling as you recover to the starting position and exhaling while pulling the handle and extending.  This will keep your abdominal pressure just as you would if you were deadlifitng.  The goal is to be able to exert maximal force and that can only be coordinated through proper rhythm.

What is Your Plan?

Are you rowing a 5km?  Are you rowing a 30 second sprint?  Are you rowing in between other movements in a conditioning circuit?  

Having a strategic plan is important.  Your cadence and how you row should change given your goals.  It’s important to be mechanical, but you should also consider what else is involved.  If I am doing a circuit with rowing and pull ups, I will be mindful not to use my arms as much during the row so that I can save them for pull ups.  This is an example of how to form a strategy to maximize your conditioning.

Closing Thoughts

Rowing shouldn’t be something that you fear.  Do not be intimidated by a machine that you aren’t familiar with.  Rather, seek a proper coach and find out exactly how to implement that training modality.

Are you a rowing beast?  Let us know if you have any other pro tips in a comment below and until next time.. Stay moving!

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