Indoor rowing machines also know as ergometers are a piece of fitness equipment designed for both athletes and those looking to get into amazing shape.  Rowing machines are a popular choice because they provide a full body workout by engaging the cardiovascular system and muscles throughout the upper and lower body.

Technique is a key component in maximizing the effectiveness of your workout and preventing injuries. Proper rowing form has four distinct stages, including the catch, drive, finish and recovery. Each is distinct, yet when executed properly they flow together. Competitive rowers usually start with a warm-up that isolates each of the stages, which helps you keep proper technique even under intense strain. 

Rowing Stroke Form
Credit: Mizzou Club Team Blog

The four stages of the stroke include:

The Catch: The stroke begins from the catch position. The knee is bent at a 45-degree angle; the back is straight and the torso leaning forward slightly. The arms are fully extended and the palms should be facing the ground.

The Drive: The legs deliver a forceful and quick push against the footstops sliding the seat along the rail. When the legs are half extended the body begins to recline while the arms are kept straight. Throughout the entire stroke the chain connecting the handle to the rest of the machine should be parallel to the ground. The legs and movement of the body are what generate the force for this section of the stroke.

The Finish: The legs fully extend and the body reclines to a thirty-degree angle. The arms engage and pull the handle towards the body, ending when they touch right below the rib cage or “bra strap level”.

The Recovery: The arms extend until they are straight, and the body follows until is returns to a forward position. Only after the body and arms more do the legs bend slowly bring the seat forward and back to the catch position. When rowing all the force is generated in the drive and finish, the recovery should take 3-4 times longer.

Rowing Person

Thee three types of row machine workouts that are most popular for indoor and water rowing machines are timed, interval and distance. It is very important to warm up and cool down before and after rowing workouts because of their intensive nature. The drag setting should be set between 3-5, how hard you pull on the drive determines the resistance of the handle to setting it to 10 doesn't make you tough it just shows you don’t know what you’re doing.

Distance workouts are usually the most intense. Using the monitor you set the machine to a specific distance and row until you have “reached your destination”. The machine measures how fast you are pulling and translate this to how fast you would be going on the water.

Some sample workouts include: 6000, 2000, 1000 or 500 meters, simply set the machine to the desired distance and pull as hard as you can. The 2000-meter workout is a good way to measure your fitness level and a benchmark that professional rowers use to measure progress.

Interval workouts are a great way to burn fat because they t produces excess post-oxygen consumption and increase your metabolic rate for the following day. Usually interval training works better when they are set to distance as opposed to time. The direct correlation between how hard you work and how quickly the interval is over leads to higher performance. To input these workouts into the monitor for a concept 2 rower, go to new workout, then interval distance.

Customize the intervals for your level of fitness, but some sample workouts include 8 X 500 meter distance intervals, with a 1:30 break between the intervals. A 10 X 200 meter interval with 0:30-second break times is also a great way to burn fat and build muscle.

Timed workouts are useful for increasing your cardiovascular endurance. Typical timed workouts are between 20-60 minutes. Ratio is much more important for steady state workouts, aim for a stroke rate between 18 and 2.

If you’re interested in doing rowing workouts from home, the concept 2 D series is a great choice. It is the cheaper of the two commercial models concept 2 offers and is used by competitive rowing clubs around the world. If you do rowing workouts 3-5 times a week and eliminate most carbohydrates from your diet, you will be lean and toned within months.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM3 (Black)
Amazon Price: $850.00 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 14, 2016)
Actually, the best indoor rowing machine on the market