5 Most Common Rowing Machine Mistakes

Rowing machines can give you an explosive cardio workout and help you build strength – if you do it right. So many people avoid this machine because they don’t know how to use it. And even if you do, you might fall into bad habits that keep you from getting the results you want.

Are you making these 5 common rowing mistakes?

1.     You’re Not Using Proper Form

Your seat is moving and you’re extending your legs, but nothing else is moving. Without proper form, you can’t maximize your momentum and power.

Do this instead:

Make sure that your handle is moving at the same time as your seat. While in the catch position, make sure that your knees are bent, your core is tight and your back is straight. From here, extend your knees about halfway. As you do this, make sure that the handle is traveling at the same rate as your seat.


2.     You’re Not Rowing in the Right Order

Rowing in the wrong order is one of the most common mistakes people make when using rowing machines. If you’re using your arms or your body too soon, you’re hurting your workout.

Do this instead:

Experts recommend looking at rowing as working your way from major muscle groups to smaller ones. Your legs should be doing most of the work, while your core and arms should only be doing a small part of the work. If you can, avoid strapping your feet in. If you can’t keep your feet in the footrests, you know that you’re not rowing properly.

3.     You’re Not Sitting Properly

It may sound simple, but if you’re not sitting properly, you’re dealing a serious blow to your power. People have a tendency to round, or arch, their backs and roll their hips forward. Sitting this way keeps you from getting the best possible workout.

Do this instead:

Keep your torso and hips in line. To get used to this position, try rowing with just your torso. Keeping your arms and legs extended, hinge from your hips in a backward and forward motion. This will get you used to the feeling of the seat moving.

4.     You’re Leaning Forward Too Much

Leaning forward may give you more power, but you’re putting yourself at risk for injury if you’re leaning too far past the 90-degree mark.

Do this instead:

While it’s difficult to keep your body at exactly 90 degrees, you should do your best to stay as close to this angle as possible.

Experts recommend rowing without your feet strapped in. Lean forward as far as you can without breaking contact with the footrests. This will prevent you from leaning to far forward and putting your back at risk for injury. You can also use your glutes during the final phase to keep your body upright.

5.     You’re Not Gripping Properly

When you sit down to row, what does your grip look like? If you’re like most people, you probably use an underhand grip, or you’re holding the handle with just your first knuckles. But this is not the optimal position for rowing.

Do this instead: Your grip doesn’t have to be so tight. When you wrap your fingers around the handle, your second knuckles should be facing forward and your thumbs should be underneath. Another trick is to tape a Popsicle stick to your wrist as a reminder to keep your wrists flat. If the stick falls off or you feel intense pressure from it, you know that you’re bending your wrists too much.