How to Row


How to Row Machine

There are 4 parts to rowing: the CATCH, DRIVE, FINISH, and RECOVERY.

Let’s break it down!


The Catch – Powerful, yet relaxed

In the Catch position you are sitting upright with your legs bent and feet in the stirrups so your shins are vertical or as close to vertical as is you can get them. Your arms are straight out in front with your head neutral and your shoulders relaxed. Your upper body is leaning forward from your hips allowing your shoulders to be in front of your hips, while still maintaining a neutral spin. Avoid hunching over or rounding your back in this position.

Catch Form

The Drive – Working position

In the Drive position you want to maintain a straight back, tight core, and locked arms and then drive by pressing with your legs until they are just about straight. (Always keep a little bend in your knees to avoid locking out joints!) Then hinge from the hips and lean your torso back. You begin the pull with your arms once your hands have met your knees.  The key thing to remember is the drive starts with a push of the legs and not a pull with the arms. You want to think about pushing the machine away from you. Push through your heels to get the most drive. Throughout the drive motion your hands move in a straight line to and from the flywheel. No matter what part of work you are in keep your shoulders low and relaxed.

Drive Form

The Finish – The completion of the Drive

The finished position is after you have completed the drive. In this position your upper body is leaning back slightly, using  support from your core muscles. Your legs are extended, and the handle is held lightly below your ribs. Once again, your shoulders should be low with wrists and grip relaxed. Wrists should always maintain a flat position while rowing, we want to avoid having a break in the wrist! Your elbows are slightly away from your rib cage but not flared out to the sides. This allows your shoulders to remain low and relaxed!

Finish Form

The Recovery – Return to the Catch position

In Recovery your arms are extended so that they are straight before leaning forward from your hips towards the flywheel. Once your hands have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and gradually slide the seat forward. For your next stroke, you will return to the catch position with your shoulders relaxed and shins back to an upright position.


A lot of you ask about the fan or “damper” level, here are some helpful tips!

The Fan or “damper” should be set between 5-7 here is why…

If the fan is too high you will not be able to sustain your watts.

Many people confuse damper setting with intensity level or resistance. Instead, the intensity of your workout is controlled by how much you use your legs, back and arms to move the handle—in other words, how hard you pull. This is true regardless of where the damper lever is set: the harder you pull, the more resistance you will feel. Because indoor rowers use wind resistance (which is generated by the spinning flywheel), the faster you get the wheel spinning, the more resistance there will be.

You want to resist setting the damper level too high; this can exhaust your muscles before you reap the full cardiovascular benefit rowing provides.


Coach Meagan

-Coach Meagan

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