Man using row machine

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

Rowing courses are in all places. It’s straightforward to seek out skilled and Olympic athletes hyping up the machine’s capacity to supply a full-body exercise.

All high quality and good…however how do you truly use the factor?

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

Many consumers in our On-line Teaching Program inform us they need to begin rowing, however they don’t understand how. Immediately, 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.

The best way 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).

When you’re going to find out about utilizing a rowing machine, she’s not a foul individual 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 known as an ergometer, or “erg” or “ergo.” They get this title since rowing machines typically measure the vitality produced from the exercise in items of ergs.

Animation of the words

They’ve grown in reputation, as a result of this one stationary machine affords loads of neat options.

For instance, the advantages of the rowing machine embrace:

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

Rowing Machine 101: Phrases to Know

Row machine

On the subject of the rowing machine, there’s some vocabulary that will 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 shall be a spot so that you can strap your toes in.

Strapping feet into row machine

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

Coach Staci demonstrating proper stroke technique

You need to have the ability to raise your heel on this place.

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

Your arms 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 to indicate some fundamental data:

  • Strokes per minute (Stroke Fee)
  • Break up Time (extra on this momentarily)
  • Length of exercise

And so on.

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 solution to get going.

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

Demonstration of row machine damper

The distinction in Damper settings:

  • The upper the setting, the extra air is allowed to circulate. This requires extra work to spin the flywheel.
  • The decrease the setting, the much less air is allowed to circulate. This requires much less work to spin the flywheel.

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

  • A setting of 1 will really feel quick and simpler to drag, however you’ll want to maneuver shortly to generate energy.
  • That mentioned, cranking the damper as much as ten doesn’t imply a greater exercise both. It simply means a harder pull – like attempting to maneuver a rowboat.

We beneficial you intention for a Damper setting between 3 and 5 (which can be the place best rowers have it).

Word: some indoor rowers use a water tank to create resistance, so any related Damper setting controls the quantity of water transferring via the system. You may 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 loads 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 “cut up per 500.” This may possible be proven prominently in your Show Monitor.

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

#2) Strokes Per Minute (SPM)

That is additionally known as Stroke Score and it’s precisely what it feels like: the variety of strokes you are taking per minute.

The next SPM doesn’t essentially imply you’re going quicker – you may as well go quicker by placing extra energy into every stroke.

#3) Paddle (or Relaxation)

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

Kind of such as you do in HIIT exercises.

Nonetheless, if you have to cease fully in your exercise, don’t stress it. It’s high quality to even get off the rower infrequently…it’s not truly a ship.

You do you.

Batman giving thumbs up

Subsequent, we have to focus on the 4 elements of the rowing stroke, however we’ll bounce 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 elements:

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

It’ll appear like this:

Coach Staci demonstrating proper rowing technique

Let’s cowl every.

#1) The Catch

That is the beginning of the stroke:

  • Our knees are bent and our shins are roughly vertical.
  • Our physique leans ahead barely to a couple of 1 o’clock place and our arms are straight.

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 during which we generate energy is vital:

  • It ought to go legs first
  • Then lean again with the physique
  • Then pull with the arms

It’ll appear like this:

Coach Staci demonstrating the drive

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

  1. Legs
  2. Physique
  3. Arms

A terrific drill to observe 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 completed with or with out the rowing deal with.

Frequent errors with the Drive:

A) Pulling laborious with the arms first. We’ll see the elbows bend early. This significantly decreases the quantity of energy we will put into the stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect form, pulling arms too early

We need to hold 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 hold a robust and steady midsection in order that we will go easily from the leg drive to the physique lean.

#3) The End

This shall be our place after the Drive:

  • Our legs are prolonged and our physique is leaning again barely.
  • The deal with is about at our photo voltaic plexus.
  • Our shoulders are down and our wrists are straight.

It’ll appear like this:

Coach Staci demonstrating correct finish position

A terrific drill to observe the End: simply work on the arm movement. 

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

Preserve 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 hen 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 area 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 wish 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.

  • Simply as we had a correct order for the Drive – legsphysiquearms – we’ll have a correct order for the restoration by reversing it – arms, physique, legs.
  • Straighten the arms, then lean the physique ahead barely, and eventually bend the legs to move again to the Catch.

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, await the deal with to PASS the knees earlier than absolutely bending the legs.

There you could have it, the 4 elements 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 solution to verify your kind could be to file your self doing a rowing stroke.

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

Oh, and if you need an professional to evaluate your kind, you are able to do so in our snazzy Teaching app.

You may 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 kinds of how.

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 foul concept. Because it’s a full-body train, it’s a good way to prep our physique for the exercise forward.

To heat up with the rower, intention for about 5-10 minutes at a gradual 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 laborious one second, then resting one other.

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

A enjoyable means 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.

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

#2) Circuit Coaching

You possibly can additionally combine in another workouts as a part of your rowing exercise. Flipping between rowing and a few body weight workouts, for instance.

Right here’s an instance Row Machine Exercise Circuit:


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

#3) Regular State

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

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

A great mind set right here could be about 50% of your effort, however don’t overthink this.

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

You may 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 performing some kind 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, take a look at The best way to Construct Your Personal (Full-Physique) Exercise.

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

Team rowing boat in bay

There you could have it, my good friend.

You now have every part you have to get began rowing.

Don’t overstress in the event you’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 kinds of leagues and golf equipment you possibly can be part of.

It might be a good way to get out and make buddies!

Granted, you’ll want SOME kind of physique of water round you, however in the event you dwell subsequent to a lake or giant river, there’s possible a group on the market that will love to satisfy you.

Observe 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 will help:

#1) Our On-line Teaching 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 learn to use it, your very personal coach will help you!

Plus, they will information your vitamin and allow you to degree up all areas of your life. 

You may schedule a free name with our group so we will 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 an actual roadmap for constructing a full-body exercise, take a look at NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app tells you precisely what days to train, what days to relaxation, and helps you monitor all of it so you already know if it’s working for you.


Attempt your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be a part of the Rise up! We want 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 house” guides, our Power Coaching 101 eBook, and far 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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