4 Steps to Dominate the Rower

4 steps to dominate the rower

The rower can be an intimidating piece of equipment to use.  

I mean, especially if this is plastered on the wall above…

If I pass out, please note my time


So if you’re not a hardcore Crossfitter or captain of the Crew team – it’s no wonder you walk right past it and straight to the treadmill. You’ve probably heard it’s a rower, but with water nowhere to be found, it make sense to be skeptical.

But the rowing erg (yep, that’s what it’s called) isn’t something to skip anymore.  It’s not just for the hardcore or the Preppy men in sweaters.  It’s a serious piece of equipment that should be in your training program. 

So why try the rower?

  1. Anyone can do it. The rower is an incredible piece of equipment for almost any body type or fitness level.  And it can kick the butt of anyone on it – even if you think your a B.A. elite athlete, the rower’s no match for you. 
  1. It works your total body in one movement. You’ve got to use legs, core and upper body at the same time. It even straps you in so you can’t escape…
  1. It’s low impact and doesn’t give you any extra stress on your knees. Sure, we can all go for that. 
  1. You can train long distance or short sprints depending on your fitness goals – and both will give your muscles a serious challenge.  
  1. And you can’t hide your numbers. One of the best parts of rowing is that your numbers don’t lie. Each stroke will spit out your effort – and if you want better numbers, you’re going to have to put in the work. No slacking here.


And if you’re a bit wary about jumping on the rower (or you’ve been doing it for awhile and want to double check your form) we broke down the stroke into it’s 4 simple and easy to follow steps: The catch, drive, finish and recovery.


demonstration of the rower


Begin in the catch position. This means sitting on the seat, feet strapped in and your body all the way to the front.

  • Shins vertical.
  • Knees facing up to the ceiling, not tilted outward.
  • Torso angled forward from the hip.
  • Arms full extended in front of you with fingers curved around the handle.
  • Ab muscles engaged.
  • And shoulders relaxed down (not up by your ears) with a slight scapular retraction (pull your shoulder blades together just ever so slightly).

This is the catch position.



To begin your row, you drive your body back with your legs giving a quick powerful push off the catch while keeping your torso at that slight forward lean.   When your legs are about halfway straight, you can begin to move your torso backward. Then continue pushing with the legs, opening up the body angle so your torso is slightly leaning back.

Demonstration of rowing


As your legs hit the full extension. Finish the stroke with a powerful arm pull, accelerating the handle as you pull it away from the flywheel and toward your abdomen.

At the end of this movement your

  • Legs should be straight.
  • Your body should be angled back about 30 degrees from vertical.
  • Your arms will be bent with the elbows behind the torso and the handle almost touching your abs.
  • And your core should be engaged.
  • And there should be a tiny pause before starting the recovery.



Then return back to the catch position by extending the arms and allowing the handle to pull your body into forward flexion (a slight lean forward). Flex forward at the hips until you chest is slightly over your thighs. Slide your seat forward by digging down with your heels and using your hamstrings to pull yourself back to the catch.


Simple right?

So next time you hit the gym, instead of walking past the rower with a perplexed look on your face – sit down and give it a try.

BUT if you still aren’t convinced to become a sexy rowing beast, you can use the erg for a few other awesome exercises.  These have nothing to do with rowing. 




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