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You’ve never given much thought to the handful of rowing machines in your gym, have you? Maybe you walk right past them on your way to your favorite elliptical. But, one night you log onto Facebook while eating some cheese curls and see a video of your high school nemesis using his now 40-something-year-old sculpted frame to crush a world indoor rowing record. Sheesh! Rowing can whip anyone into tip-top shape offering up a total-body workout that increases muscle tone, speed, and endurance.

Hop On Board The Row of Rowers For A Total-Body Workout

Rowing is the total package. A rower can be used for a steady cardio workout or intense interval training. No matter your preferred sport, rowing is a good cross-training option. It is non-weight bearing and no-impact making it a joint-friendly way to challenge even the most conditioned athlete’s cardiovascular system. Rowing can offer cross-training to enhance performance in your preferred sport. It can help you meet general fitness goals. You can use it when recovering from certain injuries. Or, it can be your new competitive sport.

Rowing gives you a total-body workout that challenges most major muscle groups including (are you ready for this?) your back (erector spinae, rhomboids, and trapezius), abdominals, legs (quadriceps, gastrocenemius, hamstrings, soleus), arms (triceps, deltoids) and your chest (pectoralis). The key to successful rowing is nailing the form.


There are three stages to rowing:

1) The Catch or Start Point

Knees are bent. Hold the “oar,” or bar “out of the water.” Extend your arms in front of you about chest height.

2) The Drive

Extend your legs. Your arms should remain straight as the seat moves back. Once your legs are nearly extended, bend your elbows and bring the bar just above your navel. The drive ends at the finish when the legs are fully extended, shoulders are back, elbows are flexed, and the oar handle is against the upper stomach. Pay attention to your posture. You might lean back a bit, but just a wee bit. Your upper back should not be rounded. Keep your chest open and your shoulders down. No yanking! Think smooth.

3) The Recovery

As you glide back to the start position, let the momentum help your arms extend in front of you to a mostly straight position. (Never lock the elbows.) The rower’s seat will move forward as you re-stack your shoulders over your hips and bend your knees.

Many times people believe that faster means better. With rowing, that’s not necessarily the case. Long slow strokes are going to help push you ahead according to the experts. Instead of pulling furiously with your arms, focus on using your legs. In particular, zone in on the power of your glutes. And for the love-of-all-things, your piano teacher taught you, pay attention to your posture as you execute full-range-of-motion to get the most out of your workout.



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