Back to Inside Track Blog

Are you only using the rowing machine to warm up? You’re missing out!

April 06 2022 6 min read

Everyone has sat on the indoor rowing machine for five minutes to warm up but maybe without realising that with proper technique and a varied training plan you can make your time on the machine the most effective way to work out.

As with any sport technique is key, with the most common mistake on the rowing machine being that people use their arms to pull rather than their legs to push. Your legs are the biggest muscles in your body so can generate the most power which helps you to maintain your strong position throughout your row.

Clare Holman, Personal Trainer, points out “The rowing movement is like a squat so great for working on your glutes.”

If you have thought the rowing machine is a painful piece of equipment, it’s probably because your technique needs a refresh. Indoor rowing should only hurt in a good way, telling you that you have worked your muscles hard (all 85% of the muscles in your body that indoor rowing requires).

Indoor Rowing Technique Refresher From British Rowing

There are two phases to the rowing stroke:

  1. The Drive where you’re pushing your legs.
  2. The Recovery where you move back to the start.


    The Drive Phase

    • Legs, body, arms.
    • Keep core engaged to maintain the strong starting position
    • Focus on the leg push and think about leaving the arms behind

      The Recovery Phase

      • Arms, body, legs.
      • The movement takes you back to the start position.
      • Keep your arms straight and body tipped forwards.
      • The spine should be long and straight not slumped.


        • The sequence is key: Legs, body, arms, arms, body, legs.
        • Focus on your legs – 60% of the power is from the legs, 30% body, 10% arms.
        • Maintain good core stability.

        The Training Plan

        The beginners training programme is designed to take you from the 5 minute warm up to feeling strong enough to row 2,000m in a competitive time. It focuses on building your endurance at first and then moves onto developing your strength and power as you get more comfortable on the machine.

        Download the plan here and hit the rowing machine.