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The best way to Use a Rowing System (Newbie’s Exercise)

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Man using row machine

The rowing system – it’s so sizzling at this time.

Rowing categories are all over the place. It’s simple to search out skilled and Olympic athletes hyping up the system’s talent to offer a full-body exercise.

All neatly and excellent…however how do you if truth be told use the item?

Neatly my good friend, you’ve come to the correct position to determine.

Many consumers in our On-line Training Program let us know they wish to get started rowing, however they don’t know the way. Nowadays, we’ll provide an explanation for how we get them going with row system workout routines.

Right here’s what we’ll quilt:

Alright, you in a position?

Let’s row, row, row your rower.

The best way to Use a Rowing System (Video Instructional)

Within the video above, Trainer Staci explains the bits and bobs of the usage of a rowing system.

What? Who’s Staci?

Welp, she’s a Senior Trainer right here at Nerd Health and an all-around badass powerlifter.

She additionally is aware of a factor or two about the usage of a rowing system, since she’s gotten a number of CrossFit certs (they love the rowing system at CrossFit).

In case you’re going to be told about the usage of a rowing system, she’s no longer a foul consumer to speak to.

However first, let’s again up right here just a little…

What Are the Advantages of The use of a Rowing System?

Team of Lego men rowing a boat

The rowing system was once firstly invented for water rowers to coach offseason.

You may pay attention the indoor rowing system known as an ergometer, or “erg” or “ergo.” They get this title since rowing machines continuously measure the power created from the exercise in gadgets of ergs.

Animation of the words

They’ve grown in recognition, as a result of the various advantages presented by way of this one desk bound system.

For instance, the rowing system provides:

Alright, let’s now move over some terminology so you recognize what’s what with the ergometer.

Rowing System 101: Phrases to Know

Row machine

Relating to the rowing system, there’s some vocabulary that might be price discussing briefly.

First, let’s chat concerning the rower itself.

Right here Are the Portions of the Rowing System:

#1) Foot Plate – regardless of the rower, there will probably be a spot so that you can strap your toes in.

Strapping feet into row machine

You’ll wish to set your toes in order that the strap is going over the ball of your foot. This may occasionally mean you can have probably the most tough stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating proper stroke technique

You will have to be capable to elevate your heel on this place.

#2) Maintain – often known as “the bar.” This replicates the handles of an oar.

Your fingers will have to be roughly shoulder-width aside.

#3) Rail – the central beam of the rower, which permits the seat to roll ahead and again.

#4) Show Observe – whilst those will fluctuate from type to type, the rower will usually have a display to turn some fundamental information:

  • Strokes according to minute (Stroke Fee)
  • Break up Time (extra in this momentarily)
  • Length of exercise

And so forth.

For the Concept2 type – the rower Trainer Staci demonstrates above – you’ll be able to hit any button and make a choice “Simply Row.”

Demonstration of monitor for Concept2 row machine

This will probably be one of the best ways to get going.

#5) The Damper – The lever at the aspect of the flywheel housing (or fan cage) that controls airflow.


Demonstration of row machine damper

The variation in Damper settings:

  • The upper the surroundings, the extra air is authorized to waft. This calls for extra paintings to spin the flywheel.
  • The decrease the surroundings, the fewer air is authorized to waft. This calls for much less paintings to spin the flywheel.

Call to mind this kind of like bicycle gears – it impacts how the rowing feels however does no longer essentially replicate the resistance:

  • A surroundings of 1 will really feel speedy and more uncomplicated to tug, however you’ll wish to transfer briefly to generate energy.
  • That mentioned, cranking the damper as much as ten doesn’t imply a greater exercise both. It simply manner a more difficult pull – like seeking to transfer a rowboat.

We really helpful you intention for a Damper surroundings between Three and 5 (which could also be the place best rowers have it).

Be aware: some indoor rowers use a water tank to create resistance, so any equivalent Damper surroundings controls the volume of water shifting in the course of the gadget. You’ll be able to nonetheless use the similar suggestions for damper numbers.

Extra on that right here:

Subsequent, let’s speak about some terminology for the game of rowing itself.

Rowing has been round for hundreds of years and numerous the vocabulary has carried over to the indoor game.

Rowing Phrases to Know:

#1) Break up

Break up time refers back to the time it takes to row 500 meters, often referred to as the “cut up according to 500.” This shall be proven prominently for your Show Observe.

If the quantity is going down, it manner you’re going sooner! Woot.

#2) Strokes In keeping with Minute (SPM)

That is often known as Stroke Score and it’s precisely what it seems like: the collection of strokes you’re taking according to minute.

The next SPM doesn’t essentially imply you’re going sooner – you’ll be able to additionally move sooner by way of hanging extra energy into each and every stroke.

#3) Paddle (or Relaxation)

In most cases within the game of rowing, you by no means prevent utterly. You simply row or “paddle” a little bit bit more uncomplicated.

Type of such as you do in HIIT workout routines.

Alternatively, if you want to prevent utterly for your exercise, don’t rigidity it. It’s effective to even get off the rower now and again…it’s no longer if truth be told a ship.

You do you.

Batman giving thumbs up

Subsequent, we wish to talk about the 4 portions of the rowing stroke, however we’ll bounce to a brand new phase for that.

The 4 Portions of the Rowing Stroke

Woman on row machine

The rowing stroke is damaged out into 4 portions:

  1. The Catch
  2. The Force
  3. The End
  4. The Restoration

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating proper rowing technique

Let’s quilt each and every.

#1) The Catch

That is the beginning of the stroke:

  • Our knees are bent and our shins are kind of vertical.
  • Our physique leans ahead relatively to a few 1 o’clock place and our fingers are instantly.

Like so:

Coach Staci demonstrating the catch position

This places us within the ideally suited place to generate energy.

#2) The Force

Because the title would counsel, that is the place we’ll be using and producing energy for the stroke.

The order wherein we generate energy is essential:

  • It will have to move legs first
  • Then lean again with the physique
  • Then pull with the fingers

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating the drive

They will have to mix easily proper into each and every different, so a excellent reminder is:

  1. Legs
  2. Frame
  3. Palms

A really perfect drill to observe the Force: 

Get started with JUST the legs:

Coach Staci demonstrating legs only drill

THEN the legs and a slight backward lean with the physique:

Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs and leaning body

FINALLY, the legs, physique, and arm pull in combination:


Coach Staci demonstrating drill with legs, body, and arms


This may also be completed without or with the rowing care for.

Commonplace errors with the Force:

A) Pulling arduous with the fingers first. We’ll see the elbows bend early. This a great deal decreases the volume of energy we will put into the stroke.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect form, pulling arms too early

We wish to stay the fingers instantly and wait till the care for passes the knees BEFORE we first bend the fingers.

B) Letting the physique pull ahead whilst we’re using with the legs.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, by being pulled forward during the return.

As a substitute, we wish to stay a robust and strong midsection in order that we will move easily from the leg power to the physique lean.

#3) The End

This will probably be our place after the Force:

  • Our legs are prolonged and our physique is leaning again relatively.
  • The care for is set at our sun plexus.
  • Our shoulders are down and our wrists are instantly.

It’ll appear to be this:

Coach Staci demonstrating correct finish position

A really perfect drill to observe the End: simply paintings at the arm movement. 

Coach Staci demonstrating a rowing drill by just using her arms while leaning.

Stay the legs prolonged and lean again relatively. Then pull with simply the fingers.

Commonplace errors with the End:

A) Shrug the shoulders up by way of the ears.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with shoulders shrugged

That is continuously accompanied by way of bent wrists and rooster wing fingers.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with "chicken wings"

As a substitute, we wish the shoulders down and the elbows nearer to the edges, with sufficient room between the fingers and physique for a grapefruit to suit.

B) Pulling the care for too prime – to the neck or face.

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form with the handle too high

We wish the care for down on the sun plexus, no longer up orbiting within the sun gadget!

C) Leaning again too a ways – we’re no longer seeking to carry out the one-person luge right here!

Coach Staci demonstrates incorrect form leaning too far back

We best wish to lean again relatively, at about an 11 o’clock place.

#4) The Restoration

Coach Staci demonstrates proper technique for the recovery

That is how we go back again to the beginning place.

  • Simply as we had a right kind order for the Force – legsphysiquefingers – we’ll have a right kind order for the restoration by way of reversing it – fingers, physique, legs.
  • Straighten the fingers, then lean the physique ahead relatively, and in the end bend the legs to go again to the Catch.

Commonplace errors with the Restoration: Bending the legs too early when recuperating from the stroke. You’ll know you’re doing this when it’s important to elevate the care for up and over the knees.

Coach Staci demonstrating incorrect technique, bending the knees too early

As a substitute, look forward to the care for to PASS the knees prior to totally bending the legs.

There you will have it, the 4 portions of the rowing stroke.

You’ll get well at this as you move, I promise.

Rowing is like golfing: the relentless pursuit of the very best stroke.

Happy Gilmore being coached on his swing with caption "it's all in the hips"

One strategy to test your shape could be to report your self doing a rowing stroke.

If it seems as regards to the gifs and movies discovered on this information, you’re doing nice!


Oh, and if you need knowledgeable to study your shape, you’ll be able to accomplish that in our snazzy Training app.

You’ll be able to be told extra right here:

When to Upload the Rowing System to Your Exercise

A coupe rowing machines in the gym

A rowing system can have compatibility into our exercise in all forms of techniques.

We will row:

If you wish to give the rowing system a whirl, together with it as a part of your warm-up wouldn’t be a foul thought. Because it’s a full-body workout, it’s a good way to prep our physique for the exercise forward.

To heat up with the rower, intention for approximately 5-10 mins at a gradual tempo. 

Whenever you get the dangle of the rower, you’ll be able to glance to include it with a few of these concepts:

#1) Period Coaching

Period coaching or HIIT is all about flipping between depth.

Going arduous one second, then resting any other.

So after your warm-up, it’s essential to row intensely for 2 mins, relaxation or “paddle” for a minute or two, then again to depth.

A amusing means to try this is to increase the period after which pull it again with a “Meter Pyramid.”

To Row a Meter Pyramid:

  • One minute of depth, adopted by way of one minute of paddle.
  • Two mins of depth, adopted by way of two mins of paddle.
  • 3 mins of depth, adopted by way of 3 mins of paddle.
  • 4 mins of depth, adopted by way of 4 mins of paddle.
  • 3 mins of depth, adopted by way of 3 mins of paddle.
  • Two mins of depth, adopted by way of two mins of paddle.
  • One minute of depth, adopted by way of one minute of paddle.

In case you get started this off with a 5-minute warm-up, it’ll take about 37 mins.

#2) Circuit Coaching

It’s good to additionally combine in any other workouts as a part of your rowing exercise. Flipping between rowing and a few body weight workouts, for instance.

Right here’s an instance Row System Exercise Circuit:


Lets intention for 3-Four circuits right here, however even 1-2 is a smart get started.

#3) Secure State

That is precisely what it seems like: rowing at a relentless tempo.

After a warm-up, discover a tempo that you’ll be able to stick with. Then stick with it.

A excellent state of mind right here could be about 50% of your effort, however don’t overthink this.

Placed on a excellent podcast or your favourite playlist, discover a Stroke Fee you’ll be able to care for for 10-30 mins, and get rowing.

You’ll be able to fake you’re in a contest if it is helping!

Two people rowing outdoors

Additionally, mix ‘n match! The vital factor is that you simply’re doing a little form of exercise. Don’t worry if it doesn’t have compatibility into the precise structure you in finding right here or on different web sites.

For extra concepts right here, take a look at The best way to Construct Your Personal (Complete-Frame) Exercise.

Must a Newbie Use a Rowing System? (Subsequent Steps)

Team rowing boat in bay

There you will have it, my good friend.

You presently have the whole thing you want to get began rowing.

Don’t overstress should you’re no longer doing anything else 100% proper as you get started.

Like anything else, you’ll get well at it as you move.

Plus, it’s no longer such as you’ll be ejected into the water from an indoor rower.

Rower falling overboard

However, if down the street you do wish to take it outdoor, there are all forms of leagues and golf equipment you’ll be able to sign up for.

It may well be a good way to get out and make pals!

Granted, you’ll want SOME form of physique of water round you, however should you reside subsequent to a lake or huge river, there’s most probably a staff available in the market that would like to fulfill you.

Apply indoors for just a little, then take 20 seconds of braveness to place your self available in the market.

What’s 20 seconds of braveness?

We provide an explanation for all of it to you on this video:

Oh, and if you wish to proceed having Nerd Health propel your adventure, listed below are 3 ways we will lend a hand:

#1) Our On-line Training Program: a training program for busy other folks to lend a hand them make higher meals possible choices, keep responsible, and get more healthy, completely.


If ever you come back throughout a snazzy piece of kit and what to discover ways to use it, your very personal trainer let you!

Plus, they may be able to information your vitamin and allow you to degree up all spaces of your lifestyles. 

You’ll be able to time table a loose name with our staff so we will get to grasp you and notice if our training program is best for you. Simply click on at the symbol beneath for extra main points:

#2) If you need a precise roadmap for constructing a full-body exercise, take a look at NF Adventure. Our amusing habit-building app tells you precisely what days to workout, what days to relaxation, and is helping you monitor all of it so you recognize if it’s operating for you.


Take a look at your loose trial proper right here:

#3) Sign up for the Rise up! We want excellent other folks such as you in our neighborhood, the Nerd Health Rise up.

Enroll within the field beneath to enlist and get our Rise up Starter Package, which contains all of our “figure out at house” guides, our Energy Coaching 101 eBook, and a lot more!

Now, your flip:

  • What’s your enjoy with row machines?
  • Do you employ them as a part of your coaching?
  • Any workout routines I’m lacking?

Let me know within the feedback!



Picture supply: vadymvdrobot © 123RF.com, Legoland Somerville (Boston), indoor rower, nd3000 © 123RF.com, malkovkosta © 123RF.com.

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