How to Use a Rowing Machine

Anyone looking for a great total-body workout will love rowing. Rowing machines (also called rowers) consist of a flywheel, a fan, and a cable with a handle attached to one end. You pull the handle toward you as you slide the seat backward. The fan creates air resistance, which makes the movement feel like skimming across the water.

Contrary to popular belief, rowing isn’t bad for your back. If you row correctly, you initiate the movement from your legs and butt, which eliminates excess stress on your back muscles.

Although rowing is a demanding activity, its low-impact nature makes it a good fit for prenatal exe
Credit: Photograph by John Urban
Although rowing is a demanding activity, its low-impact nature makes it a good fit for prenatal exercise.

Experienced rowers make rowing look easy, but when you actually sit down at the machine, you may find that it takes a fair amount of coordination. Here are some tips to fine-tune the motion:

  • Think legs, legs, legs. Concentrate on initiating the movement with your butt rather than your lower back. Don’t fully straighten your knees. Even when you’re completely extended, your knees should be a little soft.

  • Don’t round your back. Hunching over is the way to give yourself back pain. Don’t lean all the way back at the end of the stroke, either. You’re in proper position when your upper body is leaning backward about 45 degrees.

  • Pull the handle in a smooth, continuous stroke. Don’t stop at the most stretched-out and bent positions.

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