How to Use a Rowing Machine

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Rowing may be a simple exercise, but improper form is the most common rowing mistake. I’m Ana Delucchi, Hydrow coach and former collegiate rower, and I’m going to break down exactly how you can use a rowing machine for maximum efficiency.

Hydrow - How to Row

The Set-Up

Whether you have your own rowing machine at home or you're using one at the gym, you need to make sure you're positioned properly before you start the exercise.

  • Seat: Sit comfortably in the middle of the seat. Your body needs to be even and balanced.
  • Feet: The foot strap should be over the widest part of your foot.
  • Posture: Sit up so that you can pivot through your hips while you're rowing. Have your shoulders back and your hips up—a common mistake is tucking your hips and rounding your back.

Not sure where to get started on your rowing machine? Hydrow offers several full-body rowing workouts that fall into three intensity categories: Breathe, Sweat, and Drive. Tackle them individually or combine them for a dynamic rowing program.

The Movement

After you're set up properly, you're ready to execute the movement.

  • Catch: Have your arms fully extended in front of you holding the handle. Your core should be slightly forward, which will place your shoulders just in front of your hips. Your legs should be compressed with your knees in a straight line above your ankles.
  • Drive: Push down until your legs are extended. Next, swing your core open until you are leaning back slightly, and pull the handle to your chest just below the sternum.
  • Finish: If you've maintained your posture, then your feet will be pressed to the platform, your legs will be straight, and your torso will be in a straight line with your shoulders behind your hips, and your elbows will be back at about a 45-degree angle.
  • Recovery: Return to the starting position by releasing the tension in the opposite order. Let your arms straighten, then follow with your core muscles, and finally your legs.

Putting It All Together

Focus on squeezing your glutes and stabilizing your core to generate power throughout the movement. Hydrow machines are intuitive to your power generation, which means the stronger you're pushing back, swinging at the hips, and pulling the handle to your chest, the more resistance the machine will give you.