Yes, Rowing Form Matters

rowing form

Yes, Rowing Form Matters

by | Nov 2, 2018

Dont be fooled by hype

I was watching a video from a popular boutique gym that prominently highlights rowing. During an artistic pan across the rowing section (which featured glistening models hard at work), the “instructor” can be heard in the background yelling (and this a direct quote), “Don’t worry about your form, just pull hard!”

This was literally part of their PAID marketing.


In today’s social media-focused fitness world, the focus has switched from effectiveness to effervescence. Through the quest to become the next hot thing, proper form, scalability, and thought-out instruction have been left behind.

There is nowhere we have seen this more pronounced than with rowing.

Rowing is a powerful tool (we argue the most powerful), and in order to claim its benefits, too many studios are simply throwing the machines in the corner and telling paying members to “not worry about their form.” Don’t be fooled.


Rowing is the best Exercise you can do (IF done correctly)

Rowing provides a bevy of benefits unlike almost any other single movement: (1) Total Body, (2) No Impact, (3) Easily Scalable, and (4) Great Cardio. However, without utilizing appropriate form the benefits won’t flow. In fact, you are more likely to hurt yourself when not done correctly.

The basic form

A rowing stroke is amazing in that it challenges about 90% of the muscles in your body. To be done correctly though, the order of your stroke is critical – legs, core, arms. The dispersion of the work is also important – 60% of the power from your legs, 20% from your core, and 20% from your arms.

Too often, we see new rowers initiate through their arms, shoulders, or core. At the catch (the initial point of your stroke), the kinetic energy (active motion) is at its weakest and the potential energy (your body’s available power) is at its highest.

To effectively transform that potential energy (sitting still) into kinetic energy (actually working), we need to drive with the most powerful part of our body – the legs. If you remember anything with your form, always start with a hard drive through your heels. Only as you gain speed moving through the stroke should you begin to lean back and pull the handle to your sternum.


Seek out quality advice

The goal of this post is to encourage you to always seek quality – REAL QUALITY. Not expensive. Not fancy. Not trendy.

If you are unsure what to look for, here are 3 tips we use:
1. What do the other members say. The quickest way to find the soul of a gym is through its members. Talk to new members, as well as seasoned vets. Ask about different instructors, how the classes are taught, and what individual help is available.

2. Ask your instructor questions. This is an easy one – ask a question. If the instructor is willing to help and has a solid answer, that should go a long way in displaying their knowledge. Even if they don’t know off the top of their head, they should be able to find out and get back to you. If the answer is rushed, sounds wrong, or is dismissive, reconsider your patronage.

3. Make your voice heard. If you ever feel that you can’t speak up in a class, or are lost in the crowd, you should probably reconsider why you are there. You are paying for this class. This class is for YOUR fitness. This is your time that could be spent elsewhere. Make sure the class size is amenable to you being an important focus. If it’s not, well you know the answer by now…

Quality Rowing with Total Row

If high quality fitness with a focus on rowing sounds like something you are interested in, find a gym that can properly teach it to you.

So do your homework, and when you’re in the North Atlanta area stop by your neighborhood Total Row for a free week of classes! Or if you’ve already visited and would like to take your form to the next level, email us about our private, 1 on 1 rowing sessions!