With all exercises in the weights room there is technique involved, the same applies to cardio exercises too – and that includes rowing……
There are four main elements to each stroke.
Maintain good posture before you initiate your rowing stroke. Chest lifted, so the natural curve is at the base of the spine, knees bent but heels down. Not hunched over the rower.
The Drive – the most important!!!
The initial pull should be from the legs, then follow with the arms. The next part of the technique is where most people struggle to maintain form. The arms MUST release and be straight before the legs return to your start position. In short your arms should stay long for 80% of your stroke. Bending the arms to quickly can be a limiter on your overall stoke length and performance.
This is where your legs, back, core and arm muscles are contracted to pull the bar into your abdomen. (without hitting into your body)
Rowing is predominantly a “concentric” exercise – which basically means as you pull the rower bar towards you there is a huge muscle contraction from the legs, back and core. As you return the bar there is no resistance and this time should be used to reset and breath!
IDEALLY – Your recovery should take twice as long as your stoke.
The key to rowing longer distances is finding and maintaining a pace that enables you to breath and keep good form. The rower is a whole body exercise that will get your heart rate high so depending on the distance – don’t start off too quickly!
The ideal range of strokes per minute on the rower is around 25-27, if you can maintain this pace you’ll be covering a good distance with each stroke. The slower, but more powerful stoke will deliver you the most distance, so rowing fast isn’t always the key to get you over the finish line!
Next time your on the rower, have a look at your average 500m time, this is usually on the display in the middle. As you speed up, you will see this number increase. As you slow down but increase your stroke length and power this number will decrease, giving you an overall improved split time.
Rowing is definitely one of the hardest cardio exercises there is. You can become very efficient with a little bit of patience and practising your technique.
For more information visit http://www.concept2.co.uk. I have always found this site to be informative for beginners to advanced athletes.