Are you ready to embark on a journey towards a fitter you? Congratulations on choosing the rowing machine as your workout equipment of choice. In this article, we will cover the most important aspects of using the rowing machine, enabling you to train safely and effectively. Let's dive right in!
1.1 SPM (Strokes Per Minute)
When using the rowing machine, you will notice a number displayed in the upper right corner of the monitor called SPM. This metric, strokes per minute, is a crucial factor for achieving a successful rowing workout. However, it is a common misconception among new rowers to believe that a higher SPM always translates to better performance. In reality, maintaining a consistently high stroke rate can be extremely challenging and may compromise your technique and energy expenditure, leading to slower rowing.
For beginners, it is advisable to aim for an SPM of 20-24. This lower range allows the flywheel more time to decelerate between each stroke, requiring greater strength to accelerate it back to speed. This approach is ideal for refining your technique and building a solid foundation.
If you want to delve deeper into understanding stroke rate, Concept2 offers a fantastic article on the subject.
1.2 Rest Periods
Rest periods during your rowing workouts are a matter of personal preference and what works best for your body. Some individuals prefer to stop rowing completely during rest periods, while others opt to continue rowing at a slow pace to keep the body in motion. It is recommended that you experiment with both approaches and determine which method suits you best. Remember, there is no right answer here, and the key is to listen to your body and find the approach that helps you recover effectively.
To achieve the best results in minimal time, maintaining proper form and technique on the rowing machine is critical. Learning the correct technique from the beginning and avoiding bad habits will set you up for success. Here are three reasons why focusing on form and technique is vital:
Reduces the risk of injury
Rowing with incorrect technique can strain your lower back, leading to potential injuries. By learning and maintaining proper form, you can minimize the risk of such injuries.
Allows for longer steady-state workouts
The rowing motion should be seamless and fluid when performed correctly. A smooth and enjoyable movement enables you to engage in longer steady-state workouts, improving endurance and overall fitness.
Engages the full body
Rowing is a full-body movement that engages multiple muscle groups. It is important to distribute the effort evenly across all areas to optimize performance and efficiency during your workouts.
This is just the beginning! With practice and following our guide below, you will soon master your rowing technique.
The rowing stroke can be divided into two main phases: the Drive and the Recovery.
3.1 The Drive
1. Prepare for the drive by gripping the handle with a loose overhand grip, keeping your arms straight but relaxed. Ensure your shoulders are back and relaxed, and your spine is long and straight, with your knees positioned above your ankles.
2. Engage your core and push with your legs, keeping your body stable.
3. Once your legs are nearly straight, initiate a lean back, pulling the handle towards your lower rib cage.
3.2 Tips for a strong drive
- Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
- Focus on driving powerfully through your legs.
- Maintain stability in your back and shoulders until your legs are almost fully extended.
- Avoid leaning back excessively at the end of the drive.
3.3 The Recovery
1. Straighten your arms to move the handle away from your body.
2. Tip your body forwards from your hips.
3. Bend your knees and slide forward in preparation for the next stroke.
3.4 Tips for a strong recovery
- Ensure your arms are fully extended and your body is tipped forwards before bending your knees. Avoid lifting the handle over your knees too soon.
- Keep your spine long and straight without rounding your back.
- Aim for a recovery phase that takes approximately twice as long as the drive phase.
For a visual demonstration of these techniques, British Rowing has a great video that illustrates the entire rowing stroke process.
Just as with any exercise routine, a proper warm-up and cool-down are essential for optimal performance, consistency, and injury prevention. By implementing a good pre- and post-workout regime, you can improve your overall workout experience. Here are some tips for warming up and cooling down:
4.1 Warming Up:
Begin your warm-up with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity to raise your core temperature. This can include activities like light jogging, stationary biking, jumping rope, or any exercise that elevates your heart rate and gets your body moving.
Perform muscle stretches to improve mobility. Greg Spooner's 8-minute warm-up routine on YouTube is highly recommended.
4.2 Cooling Down:
After each workout, allocate at least 5 minutes to cool down. This allows your body to gradually return to its normal state.
Cooling down helps restore your blood flow to normal, aids in clearing lactic acid to prevent muscle soreness, and contributes to improving flexibility.
Focus on performing simple stretches during your cool-down period. Watching videos demonstrating these stretches can be more helpful than relying solely on written instructions.
Let's address some frequently asked questions about the rowing machine:
5.1 What is a 'Split'?
The term "split" refers to the time it takes for you to cover 500 meters at your current speed. For example, if your split time is 1:55, it means it will take you 1 minute and 55 seconds to row 500 meters. Monitoring your split time is an excellent way to track your progress and assess the effectiveness of your training and technique. Typically, the split time is displayed prominently on the rowing machine's monitor for easy tracking.
5.2 What is the Damper setting?
The damper setting on the rowing machine is controlled by a lever located on the side of the flywheel. The damper lever has numbers ranging from 1 to 10, and it regulates the amount of air drawn into the fan cage during each stroke.
A higher damper setting allows more air into the flywheel, resulting in greater resistance and requiring more work to spin the flywheel. Additionally, more air slows down the flywheel faster during the recovery phase, necessitating extra effort on the next stroke.
Conversely, a lower damper setting allows less air into the flywheel, making it easier to spin.
5.3 What Damper setting should I use?
The appropriate damper setting varies from person to person. However, it is generally recommended to start with a damper setting between 3 and 5. From there, it is essential to experiment and find the setting that works best for you.
Focus on maintaining proper technique and observe how different damper settings affect your workout. Beginners often make the mistake of setting the damper to the maximum (10), which can lead to early muscle fatigue and potentially overshadow the cardiovascular benefits of rowing. In general, a lower damper setting is more suitable for aerobic workouts, while higher damper settings provide a more strength-based workout. Find the balance that suits your goals and preferences.
If you have reached this point, congratulations! You have learned some of the most crucial factors for successful rowing. Starting is often the most challenging part, but with the information provided, you are well on your way. Additionally, there is a mobile app available, called the Rowing Machine Workouts app, which can further assist you with your rowing journey. The app provides guidance on rowing duration, intensity, rest periods, warm-up and cool-down exercises, and more. It is designed to help you take rowing seriously, track your progress, and continue improving over time. You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
To maximize your rowing experience, it is important to find the right routine that suits you. Since everyone is different, the app asks you a few questions about your fitness journey and recommends a multi-week plan accordingly. If the recommended plan does not match your preferences or needs, don't worry! You can change your routine at any time without losing your progress. Simply open the app, scroll down to 'Change Routine,' and choose from a selection of different routines available.
Additionally, the app offers Challenge Workouts, which are perfect for complementing your regular training routine with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. These challenges cater to various focuses such as strength building, weight loss, speed training, or general fitness. Incorporating Challenge Workouts into your routine, perhaps once a week, can help you monitor your performance improvements over time.
Remember, consistency, proper technique, and finding the right routine for you are key to getting the most out of your rowing sessions. Keep up the great work, and enjoy the journey to a fitter you!