Getting Started with Rowing
Rowing is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that works the arms, legs, core, and cardio. It provides a full-body workout that can help you get fit without high-impact stress on the joints. For those looking to add rowing to their workout routine, this beginner’s guide covers the benefits, proper form, and a few workout ideas to help you get started.
The Health Benefits of Rowing
Rowing delivers an efficient and effective cardiovascular workout. Some of the many health benefits include:
- Improved cardiovascular health – Rowing gets your heart rate up which strengthens your cardiovascular system. It is considered an aerobic exercise that improves lung and heart health.
- Full-body muscle toning – The exercise works over 80 percent of the body’s muscles including the arms, legs, core, and back, helping to build lean muscle mass all over without bulking up.
- Increased stamina – With regular rowing workouts, you’ll notice increased endurance for other physical activities as it improves your oxygen uptake and lung capacity.
- Calorie burn – Burns calories and body fat. A 155 pound person can expect to burn around 260 calories with 30 minutes of moderate rowing.
- Stress relief – The rhythmic motion of rowing can help lower stress, anxiety, and depression as it elevates your mood through exercise endorphin release.
Proper Technique and Form
Proper form is essential to avoid injury and get the most out of your rowing workout. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Posture – Sit tall with a slight lean back. Engage your core. Keep your shoulders, arms, and wrists relaxed.
- Leg drive – Power each stroke with your legs pushing forward. Drive through the heels keeping legs straight at the knees.
- Arm pull – As your legs straighten, use your back and arms to pull the handle towards your torso. Keep arms straight and hands level.
- Recovery – Once the handle is pulled in, straighten your arms and bend your knees again to push back with your legs for the next stroke.
- Add resistance – Increase resistance to make the workout more challenging. Decrease for an easier workout.
- Full range of motion – Use long, fluid strokes for full range of motion. Avoid short choppy strokes.
- Tight core – Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise, avoiding excessive leaning or twisting.
For more information, Concept2 has an excellent video covering proper rowing form.
7 Workout Ideas for Your Next Rowing Session
If you’re new to rowing, start off slow and focus on perfecting your form. Here are some beginner workout ideas to get you started:
- Interval training – Do intervals alternating 1-3 minutes hard rowing with 1-3 minutes slower paced rowing. Gradually increase duration.
- Pyramid intervals – Start with 1 minute hard rowing, 1 minute rest. Then 2 mins hard rowing, 1 min rest. Build up to 5 or 10 mins hard rowing.
- Set distance – Row for a set distance like 2000 meters, take a break, then row again. Increase distance as you get stronger.
- Fartlek training – Random intervals. Row easy for 2 mins then sprint for 30 secs at fast pace. Repeat random intervals.
- Steady state – Row at a moderate steady pace for 20-45 minutes to build an aerobic base. Focus on proper form.
- Warm up/cool down – Row light for 5-10 mins to warm up and cool down before and after workouts.
- Cross training – Pair rowing with strength training, yoga, hiking or other exercise for a balanced routine.
Be sure to stretch before and after rowing to increase flexibility. Drink plenty of water and fuel up with protein and carbs for energy.
With proper form, varied workouts, and consistency, rowing can be an enjoyable and effective addition to your fitness routine. It’s a low-impact exercise that tones muscles and torches calories for better health and fitness, and can be easily incorporated in your main workout – whether that’s lifting, climbing, yoga or anything else!