Best results from the rowing machine

Article Sian Lewis Mar 11, 2016

How to use the rowing machine effectively for the best results.

The rowing machine is an effective piece of cardiovascular gym kit that uses your entire body. ‘It’s a great way to warm up because it works all the major muscle groups while strengthening the core,’ says personal trainer John Penny, gym manager at Reebok Sports Club (reebokclub.co.uk). ‘You can also really push your body to the limit as there’s little impact on your joints, and you can adjust both the resistance and speed to suit your level. You’ll burn between 200 and 300 calories in 30 minutes if you do it properly.’ The following tips will help you target almost every part of your body and get the most out of each session.

DO

Focus on distance and strokes per minute, not time.
A good benchmark is to record how long it takes you to row 2,000m. You should be looking at around nine to ten minutes. 

DO

Start the movement by driving through your legs.
Focus on pushing through your heels, then once your knees are almost straight, begin pulling with your arms so the handle comes into your belly button not into your chest. 

DO

Note how long it takes to row 500m and try to lower this on a regular basis.
These ‘splits’ measure how fas you're going and allow you to monitor your progress. 

DON'T

Ignore the foot strap.
Adjust it to your foot size and fasten the straps so your foot feels secure. This will help when it comes to pushing through your legs for power. 

DO

Ask for help if you're new to the rower.
It's vital to get the technique correct to prevent back strain. And like any skill, practice makes perfect. 

DON'T

Round your back.
Sit up tall and focus on your arms and legs doing all the work, not your back, or it could cause an injury.

TRY THIS!

Celebrity personal trainer Mark Anthony (markanthonysuk.com) has devised the following circuit for the rowing machine. Aim for three workouts a week to see results.

‘To warm up, row at a comfortable pace for two minutes with the resistance at level seven,’ says Anthony. ‘Then do one minute at 28 strokes per minute [spm], one minute at 29 spm, one minute at 30 spm and one minute at 31 spm. Take a 60-second breather then repeat the entire sequence another three times, before finishing with a one-minute blast at 34 spm.’