Trainer Tip: Proper Rowing Technique on the Concept 2 Indoor Rower

Jul 17, 2024 | Fitness

Personal Trainer Leslie Davis demonstrating proper rowing technique

Rowing is an excellent full-body workout that enhances cardiovascular health, builds muscular strength, and improves endurance. However, to reap the maximum benefits and avoid injury, it’s crucial to understand and practice the proper rowing technique. Whether you’re a novice rower or looking to refine your skills, mastering the correct form on the Concept 2 indoor rower is essential. This guide will walk you through each phase of the rowing stroke, offer tips for maintaining effective form, and highlight common mistakes to avoid. Let’s dive into the details and get you rowing like a pro!

Proper Rowing Technique

1. The Catch

  • Position: Sit on the rower with your feet securely strapped into the footrests. Your shins should be vertical, and your knees bent.
  • Grip: Hold the handle with an overhand grip, keeping your arms straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Posture: Lean forward slightly at the hips, keeping your back straight. Your shoulders should be in front of your hips.

2. The Drive

  • Legs: Begin the stroke by pushing off with your legs. The power should primarily come from your legs, similar to a squat.
  • Body: As your legs straighten, start to lean back slightly at the hips. Keep your back straight and core engaged.
  • Arms: Once your legs are nearly straight, begin to pull the handle towards your lower ribs. Keep your elbows close to your body.

3. The Finish

  • Position: At the end of the drive, your legs should be fully extended, your body leaning back slightly (about 11 o’clock), and the handle pulled into your lower ribs.
  • Grip: Your elbows should be bent and close to your sides, wrists flat, and shoulders relaxed.

4. The Recovery

  • Arms: Extend your arms back out straight first, moving the handle away from your body.
  • Body: Lean your upper body forward at the hips, returning to an upright position (1 o’clock).
  • Legs: Finally, bend your knees and slide forward on the seat towards the catch position. Your shins should return to a vertical position.

5. The Catch (Repeat)

  • As you return to the starting position, maintain a smooth and controlled movement, ready to begin the next stroke.

Tips for Effective Rowing

  • Consistency: Aim for a smooth, continuous motion without jerky movements. Each part of the stroke should flow naturally into the next.
  • Breathing: Coordinate your breathing with your stroke. Typically, you’ll exhale during the drive and inhale during the recovery.
  • Pacing: Maintain a steady pace that allows you to keep good form. Overexerting can lead to poor technique and potential injury.
  • Damper Setting: The damper setting on the side of the flywheel adjusts the resistance. A higher setting does not necessarily mean a better workout. Find a comfortable setting that allows you to maintain proper form and a steady stroke rate.
  • Posture: Keep your back straight and avoid slumping or hunching over. Engage your core throughout the stroke to protect your lower back.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Rushing the Recovery: Take your time during the recovery phase. It should be a controlled motion, not a hurried one.
  • Using Arms Too Early: Avoid pulling with your arms too early in the drive. The power should come from your legs first, followed by the body and arms.
  • Overreaching: Don’t lean too far back at the finish or too far forward at the catch. Maintain a slight lean to protect your back and ensure efficiency.
  • Gripping Too Tightly: Hold the handle with a relaxed grip to avoid unnecessary tension in your shoulders and arms.

Mastering the proper rowing technique is crucial for maximizing the benefits of your workouts and minimizing the risk of injury. While this guide provides a solid foundation, there’s nothing like personalized instruction to perfect your form and ensure you’re getting the most out of your rowing sessions. Our certified Personal Trainers are here to help! They can provide tailored guidance, detailed feedback, and a customized training plan to meet your specific fitness goals. Don’t wait to take your rowing to the next level—set up a training session with one of our experts today and experience the difference that professional coaching can make.


Meet Elite Personal Trainer Leslie Davis

Leslie Davis is a graduate of U.C. Irvine with continuing education leading to Trainer certifications with IDEA, AFAA, ACE, and NASM and is currently certified with NESTA in personal training and nutrition. After 40 years in the fitness industry, Leslie has coached Olympians, stroke victims, post hip, knee, and back surgery patients, has prepped clients for the West Point Boot Camp competition, and more. She has brought success to members seeking improvement in multiple aquatic sports and court sports. A successful world-class athlete winning 7 World Championships in the 42-mile Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe Race, Leslie brings a deep understanding of balancing work with rest and proper nutrition.

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