Improve Your Performance On An Indoor Rower With These 10 Tips

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By Natalie Martin

Indoor rowing machines are a great way to mix up your cardio, while also strengthening leg, arm and core muscles. These exercise machines are used by everyone from athletes to fitness buffs, along with people that just want to get in shape.

While rowing machines do provide users with several benefits, many people still aren’t getting the most out of their workouts. If you aren’t using a rowing machine correctly not only are you missing out on many of the advantages, you could also be increasing your risk for injuries.

To help you get better on a rower, here are 10 tips that will improve your performance.


10 Tips to Help to Help You Be a Better Rower


Indoor rowing machines are relatively easy to use, and considered safe for almost anyone. This alone makes them a popular exercise machine at the gym, and surprising to many trainers that they are often used improperly. To help you improve your performance on a rowing machine try implementing these tips in your daily workouts.

  1. Long, slow strokes

One of the easiest ways to improve your performance on a rower is to work on your strokes. Instead of pulling hard on fast strokes, slow down. Strokes that are long and slow are more efficient, and capable of creating more power. This will allow you to speed up without wasting energy. You will also find it easier to hone your rowing technique when you take longer strokes.

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  1. Concentrate on your legs

Experienced trainers and even professional rowers agree that the focus should be on the legs, and not on your arms. While rowing might look like it mainly uses arm strength, it’s actually dominated by your hips and legs. You want to use your glutes to drive the stroke, instead of pulling solely with your arms. This will ensure that you are using and strengthening the right muscles, and help minimize your risk for injuries.

  1. Have the right posture

Not having the right posture on a rower is one of the most common mistakes seen at the gym. While you don’t want to be slouched over, sitting straight up is also incorrect. During the movements of the strokes you will be using your back to generate some of the power, and if your posture is wrong it will affect your performance. You should be sitting upright and leaned slightly back for maximum power.

  1. Practice your technique

Your “pulling technique” is important, especially if you want to prevent injuries. This refers to the placement of the handle when the stroke is finished. You’ve probably seen a variety of pulling techniques employed at the gym, with many ending up with the handle higher than it should be. When the stroke is finished the handle should be level with your sternum, not higher or lower. It will take some practice to improve your rowing technique, but it will be worth it when you start seeing results.

  1. A strong core is important

Strong core muscles are important if you want to maintain and improve your performance on an indoor rower. Without a strong core it will be difficult to continue to see results, even on the best rated rowing machine. While a rower will also strengthen and tone your core muscles, experienced trainers recommend adding other exercises to your workout plan. Some top core strengthening exercises include planks, side planks and sit-ups.

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  1. Add music to your workout

Listening to your favorite tunes during your workouts on a rower can help you stay motivated, and in rhythm. This will also benefit your overall performance. If you’re planning a long session on a rowing machine you might want to try listening to slower tracks, and play your heart-thumping favorites for your high intensity workouts.

  1. Take advantage of other equipment

The two most important characteristics you need for optimal performance on an indoor rower are strength and power. While regular workouts on a rowing machine will help you accomplish this, it will take time and effort. If you want to “get the most” out of using a rower take advantage of the other equipment you have at home or in the gym. Bench presses, squats and Olympic lifts will help build muscle power and strength so you can continually see results, and decrease your chances of rowing related injuries.

  1. Spend time on a spinning bike

Even if your ultimate fitness goal is to become a proficient rower, it still pays to spend time on a spinning bike. It can help increase power, strength and endurance, along with helping to prevent boredom. Using the same exercise machine all the time can not only affect your motivation, it can also make it harder to break through plateaus. Treadmills and elliptical machines are also great choices when you are looking to add some cross-training to your workout routine.

  1. Mix up your daily goals

Instead only concentrating on your rowing speed, try mixing up your goals. During your regular sessions, usually around 20 minutes, concentrate on reaching a certain distance or just maintaining a steady pace. Having different goals will help with motivation, improve overall performance, and can even help you power through stubborn plateaus.

  1. Have friendly challenges

You probably don’t want to challenge anyone to a “race” on an indoor rower if you’re just starting out, but it is an effective way to help you stay motivated. Once you are familiar with the exercise machine and have a good technique, challenge workout buddies to a friendly challenge. See who can row the farthest or maintain a constant speed. Some friendly competition might even be what you need to reach a personal best.

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Performance Matters


Your performance on a rowing machine matters. It will determine your results, and chances of injury.

Perfecting your rowing technique will take time and practice, but it will be worth the effort when you start seeing an increase in your strength, power and stamina.

Before starting any new workout routine or incorporating additional exercise equipment, it is always advisable that you first speak with a licensed physician to ensure that it is safe for you.

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