Row, row, row yourself healthy

meet the rowing machineHear “cardio machine” and you probably think treadmill, elliptical or bike, but the rowing machine is well worth a visit. Rowing blasts nearly 300 calories in 30 minutes, plus it works your entire body by strengthening your core, engaging your arms and shoulders and pushing your legs.

However, the rowing machine, also called an ergometer, can lead to back injuries if you don’t practice proper form. If you’re a beginner, set the resistance at a 2 or 3 and try to maintain a stroke-per-minute in the low 20s until you get the hang of things.


Before you get rowing, assume the correct starting position:

1. Secure your feet on the pads.

2. Bend your legs and slide to the front of the machine.

3. Grab the handle with an overhand grip (don’t hold too tightly).

4. Pull the handle with you as you slide to the end of machine, straightening your legs (your knees should still have a slight bend in them).

5. Lean slightly back and pull your hands to your chest, holding the handle at the top of your rib cage. Elbow should point down against your slides. This is your beginning position and will also be your ending position once you complete a full stroke.


To complete a full stroke:

1. Move your arms first, then your upper body. Your back should always stay straight, not slumped, with your shoulders back and abs tight as you follow through.

2. As your arms extend out, your upper body will be slightly angled forward and you’ll slide your body forward by bending your legs.

3. To finish the rep, push off your feet first so your legs straighten and lean your upper body back, again keeping your arms extended.

4. Your arms are the last part of your body to return to the starting position. As you lean your upper body back, bend your arms and pull the handle toward the front of your chest. You can also think of a single rep as a sequence: arms-body-legs as you reach forward and legs-body-arms as you return to start.

If you’re unsure what to do, don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal trainer or a member of the gym staff to show you.


Photo credit: Jay

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