Getting started with your rower

Today’s rowing machines have mostly replaced their two “oars” with a central handle. But whether using two oars or one handle, the mode of use has changed very little. That said, using a rower is not as intuitive as it seems. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you to get the most out of your workouts on your new home fitness device.

Give your muscles a full workout

Just like the elliptical or the treadmill, the rower is a weight training device and a cardio trainer, as well. You can work almost all your muscles and perform a complete workout, as long as you use it properly. This deserves a bit of explanation.

Let’s start with a brief overview of the rower, probably the least known of the main home fitness devices. First of all, it gets its name because when used correctly, the movements on a rower are similar to those one does when pulling the oars of a racing shell in water. Interestingly, some of today’s rowers are no longer equipped with two “oars,” but a single central handle.

A traditional rower with two oars, of course, gives you a closer feel to actual rowing in a boat. But the center-pull rowing machine guarantees a symmetrical workout, therefore providing the ideal model for a home fitness device. When you train alone at home on a traditional rower, you don’t have anyone at your side telling you if you’re overusing one arm or the other. This can happen often if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing: the stronger arm ends up pulling more, further accentuating dissymmetry.

Learn the right way to move

The center-pull rower can be the perfect choice if you’re aiming to get back into shape, build muscle or step up your cardio.

To use it the right way, first place your wrists forward, elbows straight back. Then with each pull, you bend your arms and extend your legs, while strengthening your back: you pull the handle with your whole body. Your chest should remain vertical, with your back straight and shoulders positioned above the pelvis. Do not pull the handle upwards: at the end of the stroke the handle should be close to your belly button, not your chin. As for the knees, they should always remain slightly bent: avoid complete extension, which can be detrimental to your joints.
Return to the starting position: extend your arms and bend your legs, letting the handle thread back through to the flywheel.

What are the secrets of a successful session? Of course, start with a proper warm-up. Then, avoid common mistakes: stretch your arms or legs completely (elbows and knees should stay slightly bent), and be sure not to push with your legs, bend your elbows, or lean backwards.

This might sound complicated, but don’t worry. Soon, you’ll have all these movements down pat, and they’ll become second nature for you.

Organising your workouts according to your goals

Want to lose weight? Set your rower to a low to medium resistance and do 2-3 weekly sessions, 30-45 minutes at a regular pace. In addition to losing weight, you’ll strengthen your stomach and glutes, and get rid of the love handles. You can also try interval training to lose weight.

Want to strengthen your cardio? Go for 3 sessions a week, using a split training method: alternate 4 minutes of fast movements (20-22 rowing repetitions per minute, i.e., one movement every 3 seconds) and 1 minute of recovery (with slow movements, for active recovery).

Want a more global workout? Keep the same pace for the first 20 minutes, depending on your level. Then, increase the pace and alternate between a steady and a moderate pace by extending the session by 15-20 minutes.

Of course, if you have a model with integrated programmes, such as the NordicTrack RX 800, choose a programme that suits your goals, and let it guide you through your workout. Just select the programme and push start: the resistor adapts automatically, and the time read-out and the integrated console tell you where you are in the session.

With NordicTrack’s top-of-the-line home fitness equipment, you always have the help you need, and training has never been easier. So, what are you waiting for?

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