5 Rowing Efficiency Tips

Rowing is an integral part of our sport, and whether you love it or hate it, it is nearly impossible to escape it. 

Since Crossfit.com started publishing workouts in 2001, the website has posted every day for 230+ months and of those months, 180+ have included rowing. A little quick math and it’s clear, if you suck at rowing you’re going to suck at the sport at least 80 per cent of the time. 

While some athletes love a good rowing WOD, and others are just happy it’s not burpees, it’s one of those highly technical skills that gets very little attention and is often overlooked in the beginning. You wouldn’t jump into a class and expect to snatch perfectly from the get go, would you? Well, the same is true for rowing—an efficient rowing technique can go a long way. 

Five simple rowing efficiency tips to becoming a better rower: 

1. Do not, I repeat, do not grip it and rip it. You want to use the goldilocks grip, not too hard, not too loose, just a relaxed grip on the handle that will allow you to maintain tension but not blow up your forearms. No tucking in the elbows or flaring out like a chicken, your elbows and grip should be relaxed and natural. 

2. Use your legs! Despite what it might feel like, rowing is all about your legs. Despite your natural instincts, your legs are far stronger than your arms and should be doing the majority of the work. Instead of thinking about “pulling” you should be thinking about driving through your feet and with your legs.

Set up on the rower the same way you would for a clean and apply the same principals to how you attack the rower. 

3. Drive straight back. An efficient rowing path is key to an efficient stroke. You want to keep the handle and If your bum comes off the seat you’ve done something terribly wrong and you’re pulling up instead of back. Let’s avoid being that person who pops themself right on outta the seat and onto the rail, yikes! 

4. Follow the sequence. Legs, hips, arms, arms, hips, legs. Repeat this over and over again as you master the stroke.

Drive with your legs, hips come back, arms follow at full extension. Arms go back, hips follow and legs bend on the return. 

5. Be chill. You know who you don’t want to be? You don’t want to be that person slamming the seat into their heels and then extending like their kicking back in a lounger at the beach. Keep calm and focus on consistent, steady, powerful strokes. 

While rowing might seem like a basic B exercise, it’s far from it. Not only is it a phenomenal aerobic conditioning tool, but it’s a full body workout from your feet, to your hands, and through your core. 

Implement a few of these tweaks and you could be on your way to a new PR, and maybe a more enjoyable experience.