Perfect Form Rowing Machine

Men's Health |

Rowing speed and lifting strength go hand in hand, say researchers in New Zealand. Elite rowers who logged the fastest 500-metre times on a rowing machine were also strongest in lifts like the power clean and the supported barbell row. “Similar to the power clean, rowing power starts in the legs and core and explodes through all the major muscle groups with each stroke,” says Topher Bordeau, rowing coach. “And because that heavy motion is repeated as often as 40 times a minute, the metabolic demands of rowing are huge.” To test your strength and endurance on an indoor rower, try timing yourself by rowing as hard as you can for 500 metres. Don’t hold back. If you finish the test in under 1:30, then you’re Men’s Health fit.

Most common mistakes
– Keeping you back straight, upright and inactive
– Lazy legs
– Getting the ‘1:2:3 – 3:2:1’ coordination of legs, truck and arms wrong

Perfect it like this
The rowing stroke is around 50% leg and hip drive, 30% trunk extension and 20% arm and shoulder work. This means around 80% of the power is generated from the coordinated work of knees, hips and lower back.
Slide forward to a knee flex of 90 degrees. Reach forward, extending your arms straight ahead. Bend your back slightly forward, with your head equally bent. By keeping your back upright you cause the hips to slide too far forward with the knees forcefully flexing almost fully (same as standing and doing 100 full squats as quick as possible).
This crunch is the start position or bottom of the stroke. The stroke should now follow – legs, trunk, arms.
When pushing backwards with the legs, extend the spine and push shoulders back (focus on pushing shoulder blades together) while pulling straight to the sternum (lower part of the chest bone). Breath in with the stroke and exhale as you go back to the start position. This should happen in reverse order – arms, trunk then legs.

Top tip
This is a cardiovascular exercise with one of the highest energy expenditure ratio and fat burning per minute ratio. Doing it incorrectly is a waste of time and a recipe for tennis elbow.
Row 500-metres as fast as you can with correct technique, rest and repeat for a total of four sets (two kilometres). Work to your time down for the 500m.

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