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Proper rowing technique begins with a good catch position.
Rowing is an effective way to get and stay fit -- and it's a popular sport -- but you might not have the luxury of living near a river or lake or have the inclination to join a rowing club. You can, however, experience many of the benefits of on-water rowing by exercising with a rowing machine but only if you use it properly. Good rowing technique will make your workouts more effective and more comfortable and may also reduce your risk of suffering injury.
On Your Marks!
Sit on the rower and adjust the foot straps so they sit firmly across the widest part of your feet. Slide forward so your shins are roughly vertical and, holding the handle firmly in both hands, extend your arms in front of you at shoulder-height. Lean forward slightly from your hips and look straight ahead. This is your starting position and is also called the catch position.
Push, then Pull
The power-generating phase of a rowing stroke is called the drive. Push off hard with your legs to generate momentum. Keep your arms straight initially as pulling too soon with your arms can rob you of power and cause you to fatigue sooner than you should. Keep your core muscles braced so no power is lost through your midsection. As your knees near full extension, pull the handle in to your abdomen. Lead with your elbows and keep your wrists straight. Lean back slightly to complete your pull. This end position is called the finish.
Go Back to the Start and Repeat
Extend your arms and then bend your legs so that you slide forward and return to the catch position. This is called the recovery phase. Returning to the catch position should take roughly twice as long as the drive. On reaching the catch position, push off again and launch yourself into another stroke. Remember: legs, arms, pause, arms, legs to keep your rowing technique properly timed and coordinated.
By using good rowing technique you minimize the risk of injury. If you are new to exercise or have been sedentary, check with your doctor before starting a new workout. Rowing is a low impact exercise but can still put a strain on your knees, hips and lower back because of the large ranges of movement involved -- so start slowly and increase the intensity and duration of your workouts gradually to avoid unnecessary aches and pains.