Ever since Kate Middleton was snapped mid-race with her rowing team last August (which she reportedly did to get in wedding shape), rowing has started to pick up speed on the fitness front. And with gyms stocking up on indoor machines, including Equinox’s new class Shockwave, you don’t have to be near open water to get in a good rowing workout.
Interested in trading in the treadmill a few days and testing this total body cardio instead? Start with these tips from Olympic rower Esther Lofgren, who will be competing in London this summer.
1. To start, sit with your legs extended and relaxed, chest up, shoulders down and core muscles engaged. Draw the handle to your sports bra line. This is the finish position of the rowing stroke. From there, extend your arms and squeeze your bellybutton forward while keeping your chest up so that your shoulders are in front of your hips. Relax your knees and let your butt come up the slide rail towards your feet. When your shins are vertical, make sure your core is high and your shoulders are relaxed. Push off the footplate with your hips, it should feel similar to pushing off a wall in a swimming pool. Once your legs are fully extended, keep the motion going by swinging your body back a few inches as you draw your arms in and pull the handle to your sports bra line. That’s a full rowing stroke. Just remember: On the “drive” (the pull stroke) you use legs, then body, and then arms. On the “recovery” do the opposite–arms, body, then legs.
2. Rowing machines are set up to spin a flywheel fan, so the workout comes from the air resistance on the flywheel. When you are rowing correctly, the more energy you put into spinning the flywheel, the harder it will be. The trick is to find a pace that is comfortable enough for you to spend anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes on the machine at a time.
3. Don’t forget to use your legs and your core when rowing! The Olympic rowing team does a core workout and lifts every day to strengthen our legs and backs, they are the most important muscles for rowing. When your core is engaged, your body will be in the right place. Take the time to check your posture. You shouldn’t be leaning back really far and you shouldn’t be reaching so far forward you can hit the fan cage.
Visit Lofgren’s blog for tunes to listen to while rowing and updates on how she’s getting ready to compete in London.
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