Rowing Technique

Rowing Technique by Angela Hart

What makes rowing popular with elite athletes and CrossFitters is exactly what many in the general fitness population dislike about it: your weaknesses cannot be hidden on the rowing machine. It is a human polygraph of physical and mental performance. Stroke for stroke, you are provided with feedback that both reveals any weak spots and very visibly demonstrates the relationship between performance and proper technique. If you want faster times, better scores, and superior performance, work to improve your rowing technique so you can harness your full potential.

Rowing engages all the major muscles of the body and works multiple joints through a large range of motion in a natural, powerful sequence in a no-impact manner. However, proper rowing technique is not an innate skill; mastering it requires instruction. The rowing stroke is very similar to a deadlift. In the drive (work) phase, the legs initiate the power, and arms remain straight. Then the hip flexors and torso muscles maintain the power through the leg and hip drive. Finally, the arms finish the stroke with an accelerating pull toward the torso that completes the smooth handoff of power from lower body to torso to upper body.

The handle and seat must move together during the drive. A common error is to pull with the back early, which is evidenced as the handle moving first. Just as the bar and hips must move together during a deadlift, so the handle and seat should move together during the work phase of the rowing stroke. On the recovery (rest) phase of each stroke, the handle leads the body forward. The arms extend first and then forward flexion occurs at the hips. You should feel your body weight shift from the back to the front of the seat as forward body angle is achieved, before the knees begin to rise and the legs compress for the next stroke.

Be sure to watch the position of the knees at the catch (the “front” of the stroke, just as you are about to apply drive power). Many new rowers will attempt to open the legs, i.e., flare the knees outward, to try to achieve deeper compression at the beginning of each stroke, but this action will bring the knees out of alignment with the ankles and can cause injury with application of force or repetition. As you reach forward for the catch, your shins should be essentially vertical and aligned with your feet.

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30 EMOM:
1) 15/12 Calorie Row
2) 3 Deadlift + 2 Hang Power Clean + 1 Push Jerk
3) Rest
*Score is heaviest load. Complex must be done UNBROKEN