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How to use a Rowing Machine Safely and Efficiently

Guest Post by Scott Murphy.

After years of being unnoticed, it’s now time for that weird exercise machine collecting dust in your gym corner to take the stage. The rowing machine, or ergometer, has become increasingly popular recently, and for good reason, too. It has been proven that an hour on the machine can burn up to 800 calories. Also, since it puts almost all the muscles in your body to work, using the rowing machine is of the most effective workouts.However, it takes a bit more knowledge and skill to use this piece of equipment.

When used properly, rowing machines can prove to be powerful workout tools, strengthening your core, legs, arm, shoulder, and back muscles. But, effective workouts can only happen when you know how to use your resources properly. So here are a few tips to help you use the rowing machine safely and efficiently:

1) Start with your legs.

The common misconception with most people is that rowing is all about using your arm muscles, but it’s actually about 60 percent legs, 20 percent core, and 20 percent follow through with the arms and shoulders. As you push off the footplate, concentrate and start with your leg muscles, really using your hamstrings.

2) Go skin-tight.

If you’re someone who’s acquainted with the sport of rowing, then you must know about the spandex unisuits rowers always wear. These skin-tight outfits aren’t worn merely to give you a chance to put your toned body on full display. The form-fitting clothes are meant to keep you safe while performing the exercise. Loose shorts are something to watch out while you’re on the move since they have a tendency to get caught in the slide.

3) Get your feet locked in.

Before you begin rowing, make it a habit to lock your feet by strapping them into the pads on the machine. Pull the straps across the top of your foot, tight enough so your feet will not slide around on the footplate.

4) Don’t row only with your arms.

Pulling the handle with only the strength of your arms will cause serious injury to your body.

Rowing requires 60 percent of your power to come from pushing with the legs, 20 percent from using the core, and another 20 percent from pulling with the arms. Keep in mind how important it is in each stroke to use the power of your legs as you push against the panel or foot stretcher where your feet are strapped in.

5) Keep your shoulders working.

In the finish, keep your shoulder blades together and focus on how your core muscles are helping you maintain your body in that slight angle. A word of caution is to stop rowing if your shoulders begin to hurt. Listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself.

6) Beware of blisters.

If you don’t want any blisters and callouses on your hands, keep a relaxed grip on the handle.

Many beginners tense up during the exercise and grip the handle too tightly, leading to discomfort and an inefficient use of energy. Taping can also help prevent and treat these injuries.

7) Don’t push the resistance.

Indoor rowing machines are what rowers use to help them prepare for the real boat race in the water. While your erg’s fan can be set at a higher resistance, most professional rowers stick to the lower settings. Keeping the fan setting between 2 and 3 replicates actual water resistance.

Very few rowers train at a fan setting higher than 4 because it runs the risk of injury. So, don’t get cocky and adjust the settings at a level your body can’t handle.

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