Rowing Machine Form - Avoid Injury and Maximise Your Workout

Rowing machines are an excellent choice for a full-body workout that targets multiple muscle groups while providing cardiovascular benefits.

To maximise your rowing machine workout and prevent injuries, it's crucial to maintain proper form and technique. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to achieve the correct rowing machine form.

Start position

Start with the Setup

Adjust the foot straps:

Secure your feet firmly in the foot straps, ensuring they are snug but not too tight. This helps maintain stability during the rowing motion.

Maintain proper posture:

Sit tall on the seat with your knees bent and your shins vertical. Grab the handle with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.


The Catch Position

Begin with your arms fully extended, leaning slightly forward from the hips. Your shoulders should be relaxed, not hunched up.

Engage your core:

Draw your belly button towards your spine to activate your core muscles. This provides stability and supports your back throughout the movement.

Drive your legs:

Push off with your legs, extending them until they are almost straight. Your heels should remain on the footrests throughout the movement.


Drive Phase


The Drive Phase

Initiate the pull:

Once your legs are extended, begin pulling the handle towards your body. Start by leading with your arms, followed by engaging your back muscles, and finally, finish with a slight lean back using your core.

Maintain a straight back:

As you lean back slightly, keep your spine straight and avoid rounding your shoulders or slouching.

Engage your upper body:

As your hands approach your torso, pull the handle towards your lower ribs. Your elbows should point straight back, close to your body.


Finish position

 Related: Workout Plans for Rowing Machines

The Finish Position

Pause and hold:

Once you've pulled the handle towards your body, hold the finish position for a brief moment to maximize muscle engagement.

Squeeze your shoulder blades:

As you reach the finish position, retract your shoulder blades together to fully engage your back muscles.

Maintain tension:

Keep a slight bend in your knees, maintaining tension on the rowing machine's resistance system.


The Recovery Phase

Reverse the motion:

Extend your arms forward, pushing the handle away from your body while simultaneously bending your knees.

Hinge at the hips:

Lean forward from the hips until your upper body is slightly in front of the vertical position, maintaining a straight back.

Prepare for the next stroke:

This phase allows you to recover and regain your breath before initiating the next stroke.

Breathing Technique

Inhale during the recovery phase:

Take a deep breath as you extend your arms and bend your knees, preparing for the next stroke.

Exhale during the drive phase:

Exhale gradually as you pull the handle towards your body, engaging your muscles and exerting force.

Remember, maintaining proper form and technique is essential for an effective and safe rowing machine workout.

Start with a comfortable pace and focus on mastering the correct form before increasing intensity or speed.

Regular practice will improve your rowing skills and help you achieve your fitness goals while minimizing the risk of injury.

By following these guidelines and consulting your doctor, you can safely enjoy the benefits of rowing machine workouts for improved strength, endurance, and overall fitness. Happy rowing!

Related: What are the Different Resistance types of Rowing Machines?

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.