The rowing machine is one of the more versatile pieces of equipment in the gym when it comes to covering the different types of exercise. Rowers provide a full body work-out and are great for cardio too. Below are five better rowing tips from which you can make the gym rowing experience the best that it can be.
One of the biggest mistakes people make on a rowing machine is to simply aim to do as many strokes as possible in as short amount of time as possible. While, on the surface, this seems like a good thing, it will lead to people taking strokes that are too short and individuals pulling too hard on those quicker strokes.
Concentrating on making the stroke longer and therefore slower will make each stroke more precise and efficient, while also ensuring that the technique will be easier to perfect. Having the right pattern of movement on each stroke will naturally lead to more effective and productive rowing going forward.
It’s important to concentrate on your breathing when rowing. As you drive back you should be exhaling, while inhale as you make the forward motion. Once you have the breathing right it will come naturally and require no thought or effort.
It’s also important not to lose your breath when rowing. If you want to row for a long distance, staying slow and steady is the way to go – if you are out of breath constantly on the rowing machine, you are almost certainly going too fast. If you can converse comfortably with the person next to you when rowing, you’re going at the right speed.
Even if rowing is your favourite workout at the gym, using other equipment will enhance your rowing experience too. Endurance sports such as running and cycling will improve your overall fitness, so jump on that exercise bike and the treadmill occasionally.
Strength workouts can also be highly beneficial. Squats, bench presses and weights can all help improve performance on the rowing machine. Strengthening your core with exercises such as planks and side-planks and press-ups will also enhance your rowing. Consider all of these additional exercises as training for your rowing.
While it might seem obvious, many beginners will move into a slouch position in their early rowing sessions. The perfect posture will see the pelvis in a neutral position and the lower spine straight. The upper body is free to stretch forward during the recovery phase. One way of ensuring this correct position is to sit fully on the seat – a common mistake is to sit on the front edge. Hence there should be contact between the upper thighs and the seat, with no contact between the back and the seat.
A good posture on a rowing machine can have a positive wider impact. Strengthening your core by rowing can help prevent back pain and future injuries, while the overall low-impact rowing workout ensures little stress on your joints or bones. If you have any doubts at all about posture or safe use of your rowing machine, then make sure you speak with a trainer or medical professional.
If you’re doing the same routine every time on a rowing machine, things can get a little mundane. If you’re doing regular long sessions, it can be an idea to set different targets. Perhaps one day you could set yourself an amount of time to row, another day you could work on maintaining a steady speed, while on a third day you could focus on reaching a distance target.
Rowing can be fun socially too, so challenging friends on the next rowing machine can be good for motivation and keeping the interest levels high. Having ‘competition’ can focus the mind too, meaning that each individual will drive each other on.
Listening to music while you row can also be beneficial. Find a playlist that matches the rhythm of your rowing and it will help you to stay consistent in your action. Find a slower relaxing playlist for the longer rowing sessions, while an up-tempo playlist would be ideal for the shorter, sharp session.
Rowing is one of the most accessible fitness sports you can find. Head to any gym and you’ll find a series of rowing machines, while many of you reading this will have a rowing machine in the home. Using some or all of the advice above will ensure that you are gaining the most when rowing – in terms of overall fitness, health benefits, enjoyment and in becoming the best rower that you can be.
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