Rowing is a full-body workout that utilises multiple muscle groups while getting your heart pumping. It engages and strengthens your core, legs and arms, building power while burning calories and improving fitness. It’s a great cardio options for those with joint issues as it is relatively low-impact.

You’ll find rowing machines at most gyms. They’re typically powered by either wind or water resistance – this means that the harder you work, the harder it will feel.

The key to using the machine for maximum benefit is in proper timing and technique. While most people think the faster you go, the more effective your workout, this is not the case with the rower. With this machine, it is all about the control and power. If you’re speeding along, chances are your technique is off. An effective workout will look slow and powerful and you fully engage your leg muscles and make the most of every stroke.

Watch Geoff, a Personal Trainer at David Lloyd Bolton, talk you through using the rowing machine.


Here are a few extra tips on making the best of the rowing machine:

Check the resistance

Rowing machines have different settings that allow you to increase or decrease resistance to make it easier or more difficult to row. Typically, on an air rower, there will be a dial numbered from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest resistance and 10 being the highest. When you change the setting, it increases the resistance you’re working against. If you’re using a water rower, there won’t be a setting as the resistance changes depending on how fast or slow you’re rowing.

Think about your posture

You’ll be able to generate more power (and prevent injuries and strains) by keeping good posture. Relax your shoulders, straighten your back and keep your core engaged.  

Strap your feet in properly

Believe it or not, there’s a reason for the straps. The key is to make sure the ball of your foot is pushed up against the foot pad platform, with the strap across the widest part of your foot. This will protect your feet and ankles as you slide back and forth.

Focus on your strokes and rhythm

A stroke should look something like this:

  1. Starting with your knees bent, and your bottom by your heels, your arms should be extended and gripping the handle.
  2. Roll your feet so you are pushing with your whole foot and extend your legs, sliding your bottom back and pulling the handle toward your chest.
  3. When your legs are fully extended, lean your torso back just enough to feel your abs engaged. Bend your knees and bring your body forward to the starting position.

You should aim to keep your strokes smooth and consistent, covering the full distance of the row. This takes practice so take it slow and it will come over time.

Power with your legs

People tend to think that rowing is about your arms, but this isn’t the case. Your legs should be powering your movement as they generate momentum for the arms to finish the stroke. Think about your row as 60% legs, 20% core, and 20% arms.

Focus on your time or distance

In a rowing workout, you can go for time or for distance to see how fast you can get your metres done or see how far you can go in a set amount of time.

If you’re doing a speed workout, you can try rowing for 500 metres, which takes around 1:45 to 2:45 minutes, and then rest for a minute before repeating.

If you’re going for distance, focus on going far enough to build endurance. For example, you could try repeating intervals of 1,000 metres followed by 2 to 5 minutes of recovery.  

If you would like any help or guidance on using a rowing machine at your local David Lloyd Clubs, speak to reception.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Rowing Workout
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Rowing strengthens your core, legs and arms, burns calories and improves fitness. Find out how to make the most of your rowing workout.
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David Lloyd Clubs
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