How To Use A Rowing Machine

Want to learn how to use a rowing machine properly to maximise your workout? We've got you covered.

Personal trainer Tom at BrightonFit giving a brilliant step-by-step guide on how to use a rowing machine.

As a beginner, using a rowing machine can seem daunting. Certain unanswered questions might be holding you back from hopping on and getting started:

How do I adjust the rowing machine to suit my body?

Which mode should I row on?

Is my technique correct?

It's important you've got the answers to these questions before you embark on your first row. Rowing is an excellent full body workout that improves strength and cardio. However, you'll want to make sure you're doing it correctly to avoid injury. A good machine set up and a correct technique are key to optimising your performance on the rowing machine.

How To Row | For Beginners

So, let's summarise the steps you should take to make sure you're ready to row:

1. Set up your rowing machine to suit your body

Adjusting the footplates and the monitor on your rowing machine to suit your body is the first step to a good row. Make sure the footplates are adjusted so the strap sits over the ball of your foot. Tilt the monitor so it's at eye level while you row. By doing this, you'll minimise the risk of injury and optimise your power output.

2. Choose the right mode

When you've just started learning how to row, use the 'just row' mode. This is the mode that begins automatically when you start rowing. You can get creative with your workouts later.

3. Perfect your technique

A rowing machine is one of the few pieces of cardio equipment that you need to take a little time learning how to use. Using it with poor form could lead to injury. Perfecting your technique will help you get the most out of your rowing action and keep your body happy.

The perfect rowing technique can be broken down into four 'moves'. Rowing with good form involves performing these 'moves' together seamlessly.

The Catch

Roll the seat forward to the front of the machine, bending the legs, the knees should be above the ankle.

Lean forward to a 1 o'clock angle.

Keep your spine straight and keep a relaxed grip on the handlebars.

The Drive

Push your feet down into the footplates to power yourself backwards.

When the legs are halfway to being straight, begin to lean backwards to an 11 o'clock angle.

When legs are straight pull the arms in, until the handlebar meets the ribs.

The Finish

The finish is your position when you have reached the end of your drive.

Legs and spine should be straight, you should be leaning back into your 11 o'clock angle.

The Recovery

Your arms should extend outwards towards the front of the machine.

When your arms are straight, lean forward to a 1 o'clock position and bend the knees so you roll forward towards the front of the rowing machine.

At the end of the recovery, you should be in the same position you started your catch in, ready to do another row.

4. Get rowing!

Now you've learnt how to use a rowing machine, you can enjoy your new found confidence at home or in the gym. With your technique perfected, you can row your way to a full body workout in minutes. Why not try one of our favourite challenges, and see if you can complete 2000m in under ten minutes?

The JTX Freedom Air Rowing Machine is a fantastic entry to intermediate level rower. Recently winning The Independents 'Best Home Rowing Machine' award, it features mag-air resistance with plenty of workout modes to keep you motivated (once you have your technique perfected!).

If you liked the look of the rower Tom was using in the video, check out the JTX Ignite Air: Indoor Rower. A gym quality rower with dynamic air resistance, you'll really be able to put it through its paces. This rowing machine is for those of you planning on learning how to row like a pro, once you've mastered the basics.

If you'd like to learn more about rowing machines, read our rowing machine buying guide.