XPRO Caley performing proper rower form in four steps

Fitness Equipment You Should Stop Ignoring Immediately: The Rower

For years, the rower, also known as the ergometer or erg, was left in the corner of gyms to collect dust as people misunderstood how to use it and neglected its incredible benefits. But now, the erg is taking center stage in the fitness industry, with studios like Row House leading the charge and giving users proper instruction to maximize the workout. But why is the rower just now having its moment? And why should you also make it a part of your workout?

Why Rowing?

After years of high-impact, high-intensity workouts dominating the fitness space, including HIIT and aerobics, people are turning to rowing because it’s a dynamic cardio machine that also builds strength. Plus, rowing is low-impact, so you can do it every day without putting additional wear and tear on your joints.

Caley Crawford, NASM-CPT and XPRO for Row House on Xponential+, says, “Rowing is one of the best low-impact, full-body workouts you can do at home or at the gym. Rowing recruits 86% of your body’s muscles, more than any other fitness machine.”

The best part – you control the intensity of each stroke so it’s accessible to all fitness levels, whether you are a beginner who has never worked out before or a seasoned athlete looking to cross train. The rower also allows for triple extension of your hips, knees and ankles, helping you exercise a vast range of motion and improving joint health.

How to Row Properly

To maximize the benefits of rowing, proper form is key. For the whole stroke, think legs, core, arms; arms, core, legs. Caley elaborates on the specifics below:

  • Once you are strapped into the erg, to get started, bend your knees, bringing you butt toward your heels, and keep your arms straight.
  • Then drive your heels into the footholds, pushing your body away from the flywheel. This part of the stroke is called “the finish.”
  • Lean back slightly at the end of the stroke, engaging your abs, then squeezing between your shoulder blades and arms to pull the handles in toward your rib cage.
  • Then reverse those steps, pushing the handles back out, leaning in, and sliding toward the flywheel again as you bend your knees.

For even more tips on how to properly row and get a great sweat session, check out Caley’s Row House classes on Xponential+. She also offers the following rowing workout you can try at home or the gym:

50 Minute workout

Equipment: Rowing machine, 1 set of medium weight DB (10-25#)

Tips on setting up the workout: Simple!  All you need is a timer, rowing machine and a set of dumbbells.  Be sure to have water and a towel as well! 

Warm up exercises: 5 movements, 2 rounds: 30 seconds each

  • Tin Soldiers
  • Squat Stretch
  • Walkouts
  • Hand Release Push ups
  • World’s Greatest Stretch

Workout exercises
  1. Rowing
  2. Arnold Press
  3. Alternating Reverse Lunges
  4. Hand Release Push-ups
  5. Side Plank + DB Hold up L
  6. Side Plank + DB Hold up R

This workout has 5 rounds that must be completed.  You will rest 1 Minute between rounds. 

Round 1: 
  • Row for 1250 meters (85% effort @ 25spm) *keep your split low and stead
  • 15 Arnold Presses w/ DB
  • 30 Alternating Reverse Lunges w/ DB by side or in front rack
  • 15 Hand release push-ups
  • 30 second side plank + DB hold up L
  • 30 second side plank + DB hold up R

Round 2: 
  • Row for 1000 meters (90% effort @ 27spm) *get your split 4 seconds lower than last round.
  • Same floor work as before (bolded text above)

Round 3: 
  • Row for 750 meters (95% effort @ 28spm) *get your split 4 seconds lower than last round.
  • Same floor work as before (bolded text above)

Round 4: 
  • Row for 500 meters (95% effort @ 30spm) *get your split 4 seconds lower than last round.
  • Same floor work as before (bolded text above)

Round 5: 
  • Row for 250 meters (100% effort - open rate) *MAX effort; lowest split yet.
  • Same floor work as before (bolded text above)

*You’ll do the same floor work, same reps, for 5 rounds.  The rowing will decrease by 250 meters each round & amp; the intensity should increase. 

Cool down:

3 Minute cool down row @ 40% effort

45 seconds each:

  • Up dog stretch (lengthening the abdominals)
  • Down dog stretch (lengthening the hamstrings and calves)
  • Pigeon Pose L
  • Pigeon Pose R
  • Child’s pose