One of the best overall aerobic and strengthening machines, the rowing machine — sometimes called an ergometer — seems quite simple to use: Sit on the seat, grab the handle and bend your knees to slide up; then reverse. But the subtleties are what get you.
“Rowing is actually a unique stroke, [but it] does seem deceptively simple,” says Anthea Barnett, UCLA women’s rowing assistant coach. “The drive is intuitive: If you can put on pants, you can do the drive. For the return, or recovery, to be both effective and powerful, you need guidance.” She explains that “the biggest mistake comes after the rower has finished the active ‘drive’ motion, which is driving or straightening the legs while pushing with the feet, then pulling in the arms. It’s when the rower is going back up the slide to take another stroke and their knees come up, while their arms and hands are moving toward the ‘catch.’ The knees get in the way of the arms, the hands have to make an arc to get over the knees and the butt hits the heels.”
Rowing on an ergometer for 30 minutes burns about 210 calories for a 125-pound rower. For workout ideas, visit concept2.com.
Below: Anna Thomson, UCLA’s women’s rowing assistant coach, demonstrates the right way to use an ergometer.