Rowing machines are a fantastic way to exercise–an hour on a rowing machine can burn as many as 800 calories. It’s also an extremely effective whole-body workout, incorporating your arms, shoulders, abs, quads, hamstrings, and your back. You can also shift the focus of the exercise to emphasize either aerobic or muscle and strength building power.
However, it’s easy to make mistakes when rowing, especially if you’re new to the machine. Here are six of the biggest mistakes people make when they use a rowing machine, as well as some simple steps to fix them.
1. Rowing Exclusively with your Arms
If you put too much pressure on your arms, shoulders and back when you row, you put yourself at risk of serious injury.
In fact, only about 20% of your power should come from your arms. 60% should come from your legs, and the remaining 20% should come from your core. Use your legs by pushing against the panel your feet are strapped into.
2. Not Adjusting the Damper Setting
Failing to adjust the damper setting is a common rookie mistake. The damper is the lever on the side of the flywheel of the rower. When the lever is set too high, it will exhaust your muscles without giving you any cardio benefits.
3. Confusing the Order of Operations
While it might feel right to move your arms and legs tsimultaneously as you row, this is an easy way to put too much strain on the muscles of your upper body.
A proper rowing stroke is a three-step process:
1. Pushing with your legs
2. Pivoting backwards at the hips
3. Pulling your arms toward your chest
Once you’ve done this, go through these steps in reverse, return to your starting position, then repeat.
If you need a refresher on proper rowing form, take a look at this video from GHF Fitness.
When you’re “in the zone,” it’s easy to start rowing too quickly.
You need to pay attention to the timing of your strokes. You should expend more energy during the drive (when your legs push and your arms pull). The second part of your stroke should be controlled and relaxed.
5. Hunching Your Back
This is a common problem for all exercise machines–it’s commonly seen among people who work at desks. You want to sit tall in the rowing machine, focusing on engaging your core.
6. Pushing Out Your Butt First
If your legs push too quickly and cause your butt to push out ahead of you, your upper body has to over-compensate, and this can cause injury.
Again, focus on engaging your abs, making sure your hands and feet stay connected.
Now, Get to Rowing!
Now that you’re aware of the proper form, as well as some of the common pitfalls among rowing machine users, you’re ready to get a great full-body workout. See you at the gym!