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The Rowing Machine: Remember…Legs Drive First

By Fred Dyck, Manager, YWCA Fitness on 25th

If you have been in the weight room lately you will notice we moved one of our Concept 2 Rowing Machines to the main floor. It is located in the back of the weight room by our core/stretch area. We want to highlight this great piece of equipment as the rowing machine is an excellent option for exercising multiple muscle groups; as well, it is low impact and a good option for many fitness levels and abilities.

The key to efficient use of the rowing machine is to drive first with your legs before pulling with your arms. This is the efficient way to generate power because your legs will tire slower than your arms. By focusing on the legs in the initial part of the drive phase of the row you utilize the power from the largest muscles in your body.

Keys of an efficient row:

  • Legs drive first. The initial movement should see the handle pass over top of your knees before you begin to pull with your arms.
  • Arms pull on handle to mid-section (bottom of your ribs is a good target) after the handle bar has passed over the knees.
  • By doing so, you should see the path of the handle (and the chain it is attached to) flow level back and forth. The chain and handle should not be following a wave like path up and down but remain level through the entire movement.
  • Keep your core engaged through the movement with tall posture.
  • Simply, the sequence of movement for a complete row should be legs, hips, arms, arms, hips, legs.

The Damper Settings:

You will notice the side of the flywheel has a sliding gauge (1 to 10). See the second picture above for the gauge. This controls how much air flows into the flywheel. A lower setting allows less air in and creates a more aerobic workout than setting the damper to a higher setting where more air is allowed into the flywheel and therefore more air resistance is created. A higher setting creates a more strength focused experience. Use this idea to decide where to set the damper at based on the type of workout you are looking for.

This is a basic outline of rowing machine use. If you would like more in-depth information, talk to one of our Fitness Consultants in the gym or book a training session with one of our Personal Trainers.