Row, Row, Row your boat all the way to fitness paradise!

Rowing – the machine we love to hate. We know how this machine can rapidly boost our fitness and aerobic capacity but at the same time it can reveal our weaknesses both mentally and physically. In today’s post we speak about the benefits of rowing and give you some pointers on technique.

Firstly, rowing engages more muscle mass than your other typical cardio style workouts (e.g. running, swimming etc). It is ultimate full body workout activating your legs, glutes, shoulders, arms, back and abdominals. By activating so many major muscle groups at once, your heart rate most certainly increases making it an efficient cardiovascular and strength workout depending on the specific rowing workout. For example, you can use the rower as an endurance workout with a steady pace over a long time. Alternatively, you could go hard and fast increasing the difficulty of the workout exponentially. The resistance increases the harder you pull, allowing you to build strength and endurance. Lastly, using the rower allows you to perform a low impact workout which is great when you are overcoming an injury and takes your joints through a large range of motions.

Now that we’ve addressed the benefits of rowing here are some tips on technique:

- Foot placement – strap your feet in, across the ball of your foot and just tight enough so that your feet don’t move too much while allowing a slight slide in your workout.

- Starting position – sit with a strong, stiff back, leaning slightly forward (just past neutral) with your arms extended in front of you. Your knees should be bent at this point.

- Drive – from your starting position, drive your strokes by pushing through your midfoot / heel. This will extend your knee from bent while keeping your back in the same position as point 2. As your knees extend, you need to open your hips while moving your arms back towards your torso. An important note here is that this isn’t a pulling motion but rather pushing through your legs and feet.

- Pulling – Once your legs are fully extended your arms get involved. Now is the time to pull the handle of the rower towards your chest (midpoint of your chest/ bottom sternum region). Your elbows should be tucked in next to your body and not widespread.

- End position – at this point you should be leaning slightly backwards, with your legs fully extended, arms pulled in, elbows close to your body and handle close to the bottom of your sternum. From there you will perform the above movements in reverse to return to your starting position and repeat.

So next time you see rowing on the chalk board, don’t panic and use this time to focus on technique knowing that you’ll reap a host of fitness benefits for doing so.

Yours in Fitness,

CrossFit Uhuru

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