Rowing machines have become gym-floor mainstays, and are excellent tools for raising your heart rate and strengthening your legs, arms, and core—all while sitting down! Not that it’s a walk (er, row?) in the park. “Because the entire body is working at once, energy expenditure is very high,” Jeff Halevy, CEO of Halevy Lifein NYC, previously told SELF.
“They challenge the user to be powerful and efficient,” adds Crunch master trainer Ariel Iasevoli. They work using wind or water resistance, so the more effort you put in, the harder it becomes (she recommends setting it at a level five to start).
The key to the cardio and strength benefits, though, is making sure you’re using the machine the way it’s designed to be used. “Yes, you can hop on one and use it incorrectly and still get an OK workout, but learning the proper timing and technique will provide an even greater workout,” explains Iasevoli.
- Start seated near the front of the machine with your legs bent and holding the handles in your hands and with a slight lean forward.
- Push back powerfully with your legs then follow with your arms by bringing the bar to your ribs and lean back slightly. Pause here for a moment.
- Straighten your arms back out, then bend your knees to bring your body back to the starting position (repeat: legs, arms, arms, legs).
It’s all about control and power—if you’re speeding through, you probably aren’t using proper form. “A great rower looks like they’re are going ‘slow.’ Every stroke is powerful, so they don’t need to rush,” says Iasevoli. This will help prevent you from getting exhausted too quickly.