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CrossFit® / september 2017
Ali Cerasuolo, Global Newsroom

How to Improve Rowing with 4 Tips

The rowing machine. Whether it’s your first stop in the gym or your last, this machine can be the backbone of any workout.

“The rowing machine is a very versatile piece of equipment,” says six-time Reebok CrossFit Games athlete Sam Briggs, who holds the World Record in the 500-meter row for her weight class.

“Combined with resistance training, rowing is a very potent tool to increase your overall fitness,” Briggs adds. “Rowing doesn’t target one body part specifically, as it’s a whole body movement.”

Rowing doesn’t target one body part specifically, as it’s a whole body movement.

It was not until 2009 when she found CrossFit that Briggs first got a taste of how effective rowing can be. Just one year later she went on to win the British Indoor Rowing Championships.

With now nearly a decade of rowing experience under her belt, Briggs is here to help you jumpstart rowing in your fitness routine. Here, she shares her four go-to tips.

1. Sit Up Straight 

While the rowing machine may look self-explanatory, don’t just jump on and get going! Before taking your first pull, Briggs recommends checking your posture, noting that an incorrect seating position can lead an athlete to tire quicker.

“Sit upright with a straight back, arms griping the handle with thumbs underneath, head looking straight ahead,” says Briggs.

2. Adjust the Foot Straps 

One of the most common mistakes Briggs sees from gym-goers on the rower: Not adjusting the foot straps.

More than likely, the person who used the machine before you isn’t your same shoe size … so why are you leaving the straps at their settings?

“The foot straps should be in line with the bottom of your shoelaces,” says Briggs.

“When you’re rowing, you want to be able to keep your heels down and in contact with the footplate.”

Not only can it be uncomfortable on your feet if the straps are not set correctly, but it also can affect your ability to keep your heels planted in this way. 

3. Pull in a Straight Line 

When pulling on a rowing machine, you’re in control of where the pull makes contact with your body. And for many, that’s a point of confusion and debate.

Should you be pulling in a straight line? Toward your chest? Is it different for men and women?

“The path should be as straight as possible,” answers Briggs. While the alternatives are not necessarily incorrect, she stresses they’re not as efficient; you’ll be feeling the difference.

4. Find Your Pull Rate 

The faster you pull, the faster you’re going, right?

Not necessarily. In reality, the speed of your pull depends on a few factors.

“Your natural pull rhythm will depend on if you’re a heavier, stronger athlete or a lighter athlete,” explains Briggs.

“Stronger athletes tend to prefer stronger, slower pulls compared with lighter athletes who tend to prefer a faster pull rate.”

Brigg recommends testing both options to discover which feels more natural for you.

Now that you know Briggs’ insider tips, it’s time to put them to the test. Through the LIVEROWING app, Briggs is challenging you to race her in one of her favorite rowing workouts. Download the app, give it a go, and tweet us @Reebok to tell us how you stacked up. 

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CrossFit® / september 2017
Ali Cerasuolo, Global Newsroom