As I have explained before, the Indoor rowing is one of the most misunderstood pieces of cardio equipment on your gym’s floor. Its low impact so your joints are going to love it but hugely aerobic so your lungs won’t! It is a great all- over workout for your body using around 80% of your muscles during a stroke. How good is that!!!!
The problem with the indoor rower is that to reap the benefits of it, you HAVE to learn how to use it properly. Unfortunately most gym’s don’t have the necessary expertise to teach your average gym-goer how to use it safely. When I was taking my PT qualification I heard a PT at the gym state that it was a great upper body workout- WRONG!
The main parts of your body you are going to use are your legs, you use them to drive yourself back, then you swing your body from the hips towards an 11 0’clock position (think of a clock face) then it's your core and back helping you in and finally the handle comes to you, so in reality the arms are the least used in the stroke - surprising I know!
To help lessen the risk of injury it is imperative that you learn a good, basic technique. Whether your at home or at the gym, there are some great tools you can use to help you. Watch videos on YouTube such as dark horse rowing or u can row or even MY fb page, all of these have really great practical advice on the stroke and drills to use. If you use the drills in your warm up these will encourage muscle memory so once your rowing your muscles will find the positions you need to get good form.
If your at home get a mirror to row alongside, put it at around a 45 degree angle, and look at how your moving, look at your positioning at all the major points -
- The catch (beginning position) - shoulders in front of bottom, shins vertical, heels up if your ankle mobility isn't good, arms straight, head looking straight ahead, chin up
- The drive back (pushing back with your legs), -the body-swing back to11 0’clock,
-Is there a slight bend in your knees (no hyperextending them as this can lead to hip pain)
-Check if your arms are straight on the drive back
- Is the handle in line with your sternum (or bottom of your sports bra) when you bring it in?
- Are your arms out fast and straight?
- is there a body-swing forwards to 1’0 clock
-Is the handle passing over your knees in a straight line BEFORE you bring them up?
- Is your recovery (return to the beginning position) smooth and fluid.
Yes I know, you look at that list above and wow that’s a lot to think about, but if you break the stroke down using drills then you will be able to work on specific parts whilst your warming up and getting ready for your session.
Don’t let the learning of good technique make you overthink the stroke. It really is a basic movement that ANYONE can learn with the right information. If you don’t use good form then you are risking a back injury that may stay with you forever.