If you've been to the gym before, there's a pretty good chance you've seen people using the rowing machine in a variety of ways. Or, you've seen the rowing machines completely empty, just waiting for someone to eventually jump on.
Why? Rowing can be intimidating and even worse, unsafe. I'm sure we've all heard the horror stories. Countless back injuries, shoulder pain, sore necks.
But this doesn't have to be the case. In fact, rowing with good technique can make the rowing machine one of the safest ways of working out. It's low impact and each stroke uses almost the entirety of your body (according to the English Institute of Sport, nine muscles groups including 86% of your body's muscles), so you'll minimise risk of muscle imbalances.
If you want to row safely and keep improving.. learning the fundamentals of rowing technique is essential.
Rowing uses a natural motion that involves the lower body, upper body and core all in each stroke. Each stroke is then split into four phases: The Catch, The Drive, The Finish and The Recovery. Each phase needs to be practiced but once you've got the basics down you'll find yourself flowing through each and will soon be generating a smooth powerful stroke.
It's important to take the time to understand each phase. But trust me, once you've grasped the foundations you will feel great!
The catch is your starting position. The seat will be slid all of the way forward with your body positioned close to the machine.
Good technique on the catch is especially important as it sets you up for the rest of the drive.
The drive phase is the period of pulling the handle all the way from the catch position in to your body.
Each of these steps should be completed sequentially in one fluid motion. While you're practicing, focus on completing each step slowly to make sure you're not doing them all at once.
The finish phase stabilises your body and gets you ready for the recovery.
The final phase to bring you back to your starting position (the catch). This basically consists of the previous phases but in reverse.