The Science Behind Having Your Strongest Row Ever
You know the feeling—you’re halfway through the first 200 calorie row of your WOD and wondering if it’s supposed to feel quite this difficult. Obviously it’s a challenge, and you want to be able to dominate it like always, but to do that, you have to be armed with the knowledge that you’re doing it right. So what is right, after all?
To answer that question, we enlisted the help of Sara and Mike Lombardi, competitive rowers and founders of Rowfficient to break down the actual science of the ways to row effectively and efficiently. And when you’re doing it correctly, it should be an incredibly safe way to power your body, without overexerting any one muscle.
“Rowing is the ultimate combination of a strength and endurance movement—it develops a balance between the two systems,” says Sara. “It’s a full body, no impact movement that doesn’t hurt your joints.”
Whether you think you’re an expert or are trying to work on your form, there’s always room for improvement. Try these expert-approved tips for improving.
- 1. Set up for your body type. If the person before you on the rower had longer legs or a shorter torso, or just about any physiological difference from your own body, you’ll want to adjust the rower. Different lever-lengths and mobility restrictions will dictate your ideal foot height and rowing style, but you can aim to have your heels low enough that your elbows can clear your knees, and keep your feet flush to the plate as you row.
- 2. It's all in the pelvis. Finding your position on the seat will change how you can connect your core to the handle and hang your bodyweight during the drive. While your instinct might be to sit on the meat of your glutes, you should aim to sit on your sit-bones and keep that connection throughout your abs.
- 3. Find an efficient stroke length. If your stroke is too short, you're leaving power untapped. If it’s too long, you're wasting energy. And you don’t want to do that, do you?!
4. Pay attention to your handle speed. Many rowers add all their power in the first two inches of the stroke—but that’s not your most efficient stroke! Ideally, your handle should be moving its fastest as it passes over your knee, and your legs and core have done all of the work in the first half of the stroke. This sensation will feel like the handle is getting faster as it comes into your body, but your arms are simply following through.
- 5. Nail the rhythm. Try to think about the drive and the recovery as two separate parts of a rowing stroke. You're on, and then you're off. Your're looking for a powerful drive that fully completes the stroke before collecting yourself and preparing to take the next one.