Rowing back to basics

Summer 2019 will be long remembered for its sunny days, but with Autumn here and the Henley Regatta a distant memory, indoor rowing is one of those unique workouts that on
the surface is about as basic as it gets.
 
It doesn’t sound sexy, but rowing can be bumped to the top of the training list if you are looking to avoid injury and maximize your cardiovascular exercise.
 
If you are putting the time in the gym, it’s like your money in the bank: High Value, Low Risk. Rowing affords you a big bang for your buck and maximises your time doing cardio in the gym and it is REALLY difficult to get hurt while doing.
 
The rowing machine is versatile, and a very potent tool to increase your overall fitness as rowing doesn’t target one body part specifically, it’s a whole-body movement.
 
Let’s look at some rowing benefits and some quick-and-dirty tips on how to improve your indoor pull.
 
HEAD POSITION
 
Your head leads, your body follows. When rowing, throwing your head back, usually as a response to wanting to get things going as fast as possible, is a no-no!
 
Use the performance monitor and ensure you have set this up at eye level. Not only will you see all the wonderful metrics as you row, but it will also ensure your head has a reference point in each catch position and you can maintain this as you start the drive and row.
 
SIT UP STRAIGHT
 
While the rowing machine may look “it does what it says on the tin”, don’t just jump on guns blazing. Check your posture, an incorrect seating position will lead you to tire quicker.
Sit upright with your back straight, arms gripping the handle with thumbs underneath and with your head forward. This is great for your body posture as well as completing your row in good time and getting the most out of it.
 
ADJUST THE FOOT STRAPS
 
More than likely, the BodyWorksWest member who used the machine before you aren’t your same shoe size … so be sure the straps are secure over your trainers and you are stable in the seat. Your foot straps should be in line with the bottom of your shoelaces and when you row, you should keep your heels down and in contact with the footplate.
Having your feet securely strapped in is more comfortable and it helps you keep your heals planted in to perform your push and pull motions as best you can.
 
PULL IN A STRAIGHT LINE
 
When pulling on the rowing machine, should you be pulling in a straight line? Toward your chest?
Your pull should be as straight as possible, while the alternatives are not necessarily incorrect, it is not as effective, and you will 100% be feeling the difference.
 
FIND YOUR SWEET SPOT PULL RATE
 
The faster you pull, the faster you’re going, right?
Not necessarily. In reality, the speed of your pull depends on a few factors.
Your natural pull rhythm will depend on your size and how strong you are. Stronger gym goers tend row on a higher resistance and slower pulls compared with lighter rowers that lean towards the preference of a faster pull rate with less resistance.
Testing and amending both options as you progress is a great way to keep your fitness level on the up and use the rowing machine in a way that feels more natural for you at different stages.
 
The rowing machine, whether it’s your first stop in the gym or your last, can be the backbone of any workout and fitness lever.