How to Row On a Rowing Machine Like the Pros

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Before anything else, I’d like to emphasize the importance of rowing. Rowing is a great exercise that offers full body workouts. When you row, both your upper and lower body muscles push themselves to move the rowing machine. Rowing is even known as a total-body builder. I mean, doing this for a minute can burn about 11 calories! But here’s the thing: WITHOUT PROPER FORM, YOU WON’T GET MAXIMUM RESULTS. If your form is poor, soon enough you might say hello to an injury on your lower back since the usual crime is committed during the drive phase of rowing.


We’ll talk about technique in a bit but first, let’s discuss the two terms you need to know.

  • Split time – This refers to the time it takes to row 500 meters. You should go for 2 minutes or less. In order to raise your speed, push out with more force and don’t just work your arms quicker.

  • Strokes per minute – This is how many times you row in a minute. Maintain 30 or fewer strokes per minute.

Those two terms will help you during your workout. Keep them in mind.


Are you ready to partake of the main course? Basically, there are three steps to row like the pros. Here they are:

The Catch. This is the start of it all; the beginning position. First, sit on the machine (obviously). Ensure to strap your feet on the footrests tightly. Don’t tighten too much and don’t allow it to be too loose. The important thing is to keep your feet in position during the workout. Now you’re ready to do the catch. To do this, your knees should be bent, your arms and shoulders should be relaxed, with your arms extended in front of your knees, and your hands gripping the handles. In this position, your back should be tall and upright. This is an essential part. The paddle handles should reach behind the rowing machine as if you’re dipping the water with the handles. Remember not to lean too much and overstretch.

The Drive. This is where you press through the bottom of your feet to extend your knees. The motion will engage the core to aid lever your body backward. Once your knees are straight, continue the backward leverage by gently pulling the handles toward your chest and over your knees, as if you’re drawing the paddles forward through the water. Keep your elbows tucked in when you draw your arms toward your chest. You’ll know you’re doing this step right if your back is slowly becoming vertical while you move backward without leaning far back.

The Recovery. This steady, controlled motion returns the rower to where it once was—the beginning position. You do this step with little or zero resistance at all. To do this, you move forward from holding the handle at chest level. Don’t rush. It should take you twice longer to move forward than when you go backward and pull the handle.

After the recovery, you’re ready to do the catch again. Perform the steps by thinking like a pro. And pros remember this:

60% of power must come from your legs, 20% from pulling with your arms, and 20% from bracing the core.

Use your God-given legs for every stroke by pushing them against the footrests.

If you’re interested in buying a rowing machine we have a very popular rowing machine buying guide that you can check out.