Rowing 101: 3 Quick Fixes for Perfect Form

Lately I've seen an uptick in the number of folks ditching their standard routines on the Elliptical or treadmill and venturing over to the water rower. Maybe we have House of Cards to thank for that. Whatever the inspiration, rowing can be an incredibly effective exercise. When done properly it is a metabolic, total body workout that strengthens a lot of areas the average desk-bound professional needs to work on (hip extension for the booty and hamstrings, core stability for the trunk and of course mid back and arms from all that delicious pulling).

But if you find your lower back or neck aching during or after your sessions on the erg or if you just feel like your stroke needs help, checkout these simple fixes from my fellow Equinox Pine Street trainer and friend Lauren Barkan

I asked Lauren to show us how to row like a pro, because frankly, she's a bad ass on the erg and has a beautiful stroke. In her collegiate days she had the unique experience of both rowing for a team and being a coxswain (the person who steers the rowers). So she has experience performing the complex symphony of movement required for the most effective stroke and also coaching it. Check her out in this video where she demonstrates what a proper stroke should look like. 

Don't think your stroke looks like this? Don't worry. Most folks need a little tweaking, particularly to fine-tune the level of effort between the lower and upper body and the timing of the leg, trunk and arm segments. Below Lauren address three of the most common issues she sees with her clients on the erg and the most effective fixes.

How NOT to Row: All Arms, No Legs

In this video Lauren demonstrates what it looks like if you're rowing too much from your upper body and not using your legs. The fix? Roughly 60% of power should come from pushing with the legs, 20% bracing of the core and 20% from pulling with the arms. 

How NOT to Row: Hunching Your Back

In this video Lauren demonstrates what it looks like if you're hunching your back during the stroke. The fix? Sit with a tall, stacked posture relaxing your shoulders so they are pulled back and down. Spine should always remain neutral.

How NOT to Row: Legs First

In this video Lauren demonstrates what it looks like if you're extending your legs too quickly and out of rhythm with your pull. The fix? Focus on keeping your arms straight through your pull until the recovery (or "lean back") phase after the oar pass past your knees. 

And when you're ready to get SUPER fancy advanced and take your rowing to the next level, consider tandem rowing. Just kidding. Don't try this at home. Not really, don't.