The rowing stroke is made up of 4 individual components, these include:
Let’s take a look at each step in a bit more detail…
During the catch your body is perpendicular to the floor, meanwhile your arms are extended horizontally to the flywheel. Your back should be straight while your upper body should be relaxed to an extent.
The drive is the ‘pulling’ phase of the rowing stroke. During the drive you should be leveraging via your legs and hips as much as possible. A common mistake people make when rowing is pulling through the arms too much. 60 – 70% of the force for the drive
should come from the lower body.
During the finish your shoulders should be behind your hips with the rowers handle brushing up against your chest (don’t hit yourself with it). Your hands should be gripping the handle with an overhand grip (not underhand or a mixed grip).
The recovery is the transition between strokes, during which your sliding towards the rower again by compressing your legs and extending your arms in to return the handle to the flywheel. The recovery step on the rowing stroke should be relaxed, allowing you time to breath prior to commencing the next catch (the start of the following stroke).
The following tips will allow you to row more efficiently, increase your power, decrease your risk of injury and have more fun!
Don’t Use a Death Grip
Hold onto the handle firmly, but not with so much force that you tear up your palms and end up with strained forearms.
Drive through the Legs
When focusing on explosive, powerful rowing don’t get in the bad habit of over using your arms, your legs are much stronger and will be able to drive you through each rowing stroke more efficiently than jerking the handle with your arms.
Legs, Hips, Arms, Arms, Hips, Legs
This is the sequence in which you should be engaging your muscles when rowing, remember it.
Drive Straight Back
Don’t push up when rowing, drive straight back. Pushing up will result in you lifting off the seat or potentially even falling off.
Engage the Core
When rowing don’t let your glutes shoot backwards first, ensure your core (abs) are engaged through the stroke – the angle of your back should not change as you’re driving with your legs.
Don’t Pull with your Arms
Your elbows should remain straight as you power through your legs. Squeeze the Shoulder Blades As you’re rowing focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as opposed to shrugging your shoulders up to your ears.
Be Mindful of Handle Location
When pulling the handle towards you on the drive and finish portions of your rowing stroke the handle should be towards the bottom of your ribs (under your chest).
Maintain good posture throughout the movement, keep your chest up, shoulders up and don’t let your lower back round or collapse.
Feel through your Feet
The balls of your feet should maintain a solid connection with the footplates on the rowing machine throughout your stroke.
Don’t Re-bend your Knees Prematurely
As you return forward in your stroke (the recovery) your knees should remain straight until the handle is above the middle of your shin (passed your knee)
Hinge at the hips, sit tall and wait until the handle has passed your knees before re-bending.
Don’t Slam the Seat
Between the recovery and catch phases of your stroke you should not be slamming the seat of the rower into your heels – instead stop when your shins are perpendicular to the floor and your heels are curled up off the foot plates.
Be Conscious of your Breathing
Exhale during the catch and drive, inhale during the finish and recovery.
Pace yourself, maintain a smooth consistent movement throughout your rowing stroke, imagine you’re on the water, jerky movements are likely to send you overboard.