Rowing machine training for beginners including a training plan

With a rowing machine you bring more fitness into your everyday life. But many people shy away from it because they are unsure how to do an effective rowing machine training: How do you train properly with a rowing machine? What is important in terms of technique and power distribution and how long should you train on your device per unit?

In this article we look at the correct rowing technique and clarify which muscles are involved in the movement. You will then receive a 5-week training plan for the rowing machine, with which you will make rapid progress even as a beginner.

The right technique for rowing training

Before you jump on your rowing machine with full motivation and start training, you should first consult a sports doctor, especially if you are a beginner or if you have injuries. 

The most important thing in rowing is the right technique, otherwise you could damage your body in the long term. Only if you row with the correct technique can you get the most out of your rowing training and complete it with a low risk of injury.

Important : For an intense workout, you don’t have to row quickly for a short time, but rather powerfully over a longer period of time.

 

An upright posture 

An upright posture is the most effective way to protect and train your back. Never bend your upper body too much forwards or backwards. Find a fixed point on the wall in front of you at head height. You fix this in place and do not let your eyes out of your sight during training to support your upright posture. A look at a television would also be conceivable and may even distract you a little from the exertion.

A secure hold 

With the foot straps on the footboard, you ensure a secure hold so that you can row properly. They can be individually adapted to your foot length and thus to your body size. Always pull the foot straps firmly so that your feet cannot slip out during exercise.

The optimal grip 

The hand movements also play an important role in rowing, especially with regard to the different muscle strain. They can be gripped either from above or from below. While you specifically train your biceps with the grip from above, the lower grip strengthens your triceps. Beginners should best start their workout with the top grip.

One body line 

Your hips should line up with your knees and feet. This is to avoid leaning your knees in or out too much. First, move your arms forward before bending your legs so that your arms and legs do not interfere with each other as you move forward.

The right force distribution

“60 – 30 – 10” is what the professionals say. With the perfect rowing technique, 60 percent of the force comes from the legs, 30 percent from the trunk and only 10 percent from the arms. Since rowing demands a lot of muscles, your training session can only consist of rowing and also train your endurance very intensively.

The sequence of movements 

Even if there are rowing machines with different resistance systems, the rowing technique used for training is the same. The sequence of movements can be divided into two phases, the recovery phase and the pull phase. Always start in the recovery phase. Inhale during the recovery phase and then exhale during the pull phase. With time and experience, the movements will become more and more fluid.

Warm up & cool down 

You don’t need to stretch yourself before exercising with the rowing machine, but you should warm up slowly for the first 5 minutes of each training session to get your body used to the movement and to promote blood circulation.

At the end of the training, plan another 5-minute cool down phase in which you reduce your intensity and come to a complete standstill. In both phases, your heart rate is best in the range of 40 to 60% of your maximum heart rate.

And very important: drink enough water before, during and after training!

 
 

Common mistakes in rowing machine training

In order not to harm your health, you should in any case make sure not to adopt any wrong movements or postures. The most common mistakes when exercising with a rowing machine include:

 

Incorrect arm-knee coordination

Not a straight line between your hips, knees and feet

Posture errors such as hunched back or lying on the back too much

A tense neck

Elbows bent too far

Foot straps too loose

 
 

Which muscles does rowing use?


PHOTO: MICROGEN / SHUTT E RSTOCK.COM

With a rowing machine and the right training plan, not only the back and stomach, but also up to 85 percent of your muscles in the entire body are used.

In the area of ​​your back, your large back muscles, the trapezius muscles and the lower back area are trained. 

Pushing off with your legs also puts a lot of strain on your thighs and calves, which makes training with the right rowing machine training plan a balanced full-body workout.

Rowing training is one of the most effective muscle workouts that trains all major muscle groups:

  •  
    Shoulder and upper arm muscles (biceps & triceps)
  •  
    Finger muscles (finger flexors)
  •  
    Back muscles (latissimus)
  •  
    Abdominal muscles (six pack)
  •  
    Glutes
  •  
    Upper and lower leg muscles
  •  
    Knee muscles (knee flexors)
  •  
    Calf and foot muscles (longitudinal and transverse arches)
 

 

A rowing machine training plan for beginners

Using the following example, we will show you a simple rowing machine training plan that is ideal for beginners.

Please note that you will experience sufficient regeneration between the individual training days in order to be optimally prepared for the next unit. Three rowing days per week are ideal for beginners, for example on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

week 1

Day

Minutes

Pulse

Beats per minute

1

40

60 – 70 percent

20-22

2

40

60 – 70 percent

22-24

3

40

60 – 70 percent

20-22

Week 2

Day

Minutes

Pulse

Beats per minute

1

50

60 – 70 percent

21-23

2

40

65 – 75 percent

22-24

3

50

60 – 70 percent

21-23

Week 3

Day

Minutes

Pulse

Beats per minute

1

40

65 – 75 percent

22-24

2

50

60 – 70 percent

21-23

3

40

65 – 75 percent

22-24

Week 4

Day

Minutes

Pulse

Beats per minute

1

60

60 – 70 percent

20-25

2

40

65 – 75 percent

23-25

3

60

60 – 70 percent

20-25

Week 5

Day

Minutes

Pulse

Beats per minute

1

40

65 – 75 percent

24-25

2

60

60 – 70 percent

22-25

3

40

65 – 75 percent

24-25

 

 

How often and how long do you train?

The length of a training session is of course dependent on your experience and your level of performance.

As a beginner, we recommend exercising three times a week. As an experienced rower, you can do four or five times.

Always take a day’s break between the individual training sessions or vary the intensity of your training instead of the duration.

Beginners start with a forty minute workout and then gradually increase. Once you have mastered the correct technique, you should try to increase the intensity of rowing from time to time.

In rowing machines with air or water resistance, the resistance depends solely on the strength you put into the exercise. That means the harder you pull, the stronger the resistance will be. As a beginner, you should start with a low intensity and slowly approach the optimal load.

 

The types of resistance of rowing machines in detail


As a beginner, you shouldn’t stretch your training quota too far – as an advanced learner you are more flexible

But the most important thing is not to overdo it when exercising on a rowing machine. It is not the purpose of your training to go to your limits every time. If you exhaust yourself completely, you will unnecessarily extend your required regeneration time or you will not be able to call up the required performance in your upcoming training sessions. Better to increase slowly over time than too much too soon.

You can find more detailed information on the duration and intensity of rowing in our rowing machine training plan.

 

Our conclusion 

The most important thing in any type of fitness training is the right technique. With the correct technique, rowing is also a highly intensive and effective training, in which you can determine for yourself how intensively the rowing machine muscles involved in the exercise are used. 

Since rowing can challenge up to 85 percent of the body’s muscles, it offers particularly effective strength and endurance training. The higher your effort, the higher the resistance. But don’t ask too much of your rowing too quickly. The progress will be revealed by regular improvement of technique and intensity – not by rowing once to the maximum of your strength.

With the right rowing machine training plan, you can get the most out of your training in the long run.

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