Rowing Technique The rowing stroke generates the perfect exercise. By utilizing all major muscle groups in proportion to their strength it produces a whole body workout that is unequalled in its exercise efficiency. The Correct rowing technique is important in realizing the full benefits of the rowing stroke. The fundamentals can best be described by breaking the stroke into several elements;
The Finish, legs flat, hands drawn just below the chest, a strong upright posture leaning slightly backward with the shoulders just behind the pelvis
The Recovery phase 1, legs flat, arms begin to straighten , the body starts to rock over the pelvis
The Recovery phase 2, legs flat, the pelvis rocks over, the body weight shifts from the back of the seat to the front of the seat
The Recovery phase 3, the legs collapse and the body moves smoothly up the slide in the rocked over position. Pressure comes gradually onto the feet as the shins become vertical. A strong upright posture leaning slightly forward with the shoulders just in front of the pelvis
The Drive phase 1, squeeze back with your legs, keeping your back tilted slightly forward in a strong upright posture, arms straight and shoulder loose
The Drive phase 2, as the leg drive continues with constant speed, the body begins to rock back, the torso adding to the work of the legs
The Drive phase 3, maintaining constant speed, the body opens out and the arms begin to add to the effort of the legs and the torso
The Finish, fully straighten the legs, lean the body slightly backward with the shoulders just behind the pelvis, maintaining a strong upright posture and draw the arms to just below the chest. As the stroke is completed.
Tips for good technique
Rowing is a leg-driven exercise to which arms and back merely add on to the acceleration generated by the legs. Accelerate the handle evenly throughout the whole stroke, and keep an even pressure on your feet throughout the entire work phase.
During the recovery, move your body by rocking your pelvis rather than by curling your spine. This keeps your lower back in a strong position and, if you do it correctly, you should feel your weight shift from the back to the front of your seat as you rock over. If you have difficulty doing this while your legs are flat it is important to work at your hamstring flexibility, as tight hamstrings pull your pelvis into a weak-back position.
Stay relaxed in the upper body - particularly the shoulders. During the drive phase imagine that you are 'hanging' off the handle as you move back. This cuts out unnecessary tension and also ensures that you are not working your back against your legs at the catch.
Some useful exercises
A useful training aid used by oarsmen at all levels is to break the stroke down into constituent parts so as to separate out each movement. Two drills are particularly useful:
Fixed-seat rowing - practice rocking from your pelvis and keeping some pressure to your feet by moving back and forth between positions 1 and 3 - effectively rowing without driving with your legs.
Catch drill - practice shoulder relaxation and leg-back coordination by moving back and forth between positions four and five. In this phase of the stroke the legs do everything so your body angle should stay the same and your arms should be straight throughout the exercise.
Practice each drill for a minute or so and then return to full-range rowing. This will enable you to feel the effect of each drill on your co-ordination.