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Rowing: Have you been doing it wrong all along?

November 14, 20233 min read

As we utilize the equipment at Breakaway Fitness and Performance it is important that we educate our athletes to perform safely and effectively. Strength and power are two of the most influential properties to improve your ability to move and overall body composition. To program these types of exercises into your weekly routine, we take advantage of cardiovascular training to increase your heart rate, provide oxygen throughout the blood stream, and improve your overall stamina. Nothing better than a quick release of endorphins flooding your blood stream to break up the crucial efforts associated with getting stronger! What better way to increase your stamina then to challenge yourself on a low-impact, indoor rowing machine that can effectively burn more than 600 calories per hour while improving strength, posture and power. Rowing is one of the only cardiovascular machines that not only improves your cardio-respiratory system but also works to condition many different muscles and joints without straining them. The upper body and abdominal muscles closely associated with better posture and stability are also engaged in proper rowing technique. These muscles and joints experience a wide range of movement which will minimize stiffness and increase overall flexibility. I found the need to write this article to explain proper technique as we continue to program rowing into your weekly routines. As a Performance Coach at Breakaway Fitness, we are trained to be very observant of all of the individuals throughout each session to ensure everyone is practicing with similar form and technique. It is apparent to me that a lot of individuals have very different techniques associated when rowing. Below I would like to encourage you to read and comprehend each of the 4 basic positions to hit during each stroke.


Sit on the rower and place your feet on the platforms. Adjust the foot straps so that the strap is running between your bottom 2 laces on your shoes. Reach forward and grab the bar with long arms and hands relaxed. Bend your knees (focusing on keeping alignment with elbows) and maintaining a neutral (straight) spine. Body around the 1 o’clock position.


Brace through the midline, and START by pushing through the legs. Pressure should be initiated through the midfoot until knee is almost fully extended. Before full knee extension, engage the core and allow the hips to swing open and extend. Bend the elbows and pull the bar toward the sternum. Body around the 11 o’clock position. THE RELEASE As the arms pull in towards the sternum they immediately push away after completing the stroke. Be aware not to immediately bend the knees as the arms are extending. Keep in mind that the arms are only responsible for about 10% of the stroke.


After arms have almost completed extended from The Release close the hip angle by bringing the torso forward while maintaining a neutral spine and load the posterior chain. Begin to bend the knees and glide up to The Catch position. Be sure the knees stay in alignment with the elbows and the arms do not reach too far forward sacrificing the position across the upper/mid back. The Recovery should be a mirror image of The Drive.

Emphasis on Body Per Stroke

Legs = 60% Hips = 30% Arms= 10%

What Not To Do

Performance Coach,

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Breakaway Fitness & Performance

Breakaway Fitness & Performance focuses on strength training, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle in their blogs.

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