When test driving a new fitness tool, it's important to get to know each other before jumping into anything serious. The rowing machine, for example, looks like a one-trick pony - but, if you think you have it all figured out, think again.
Did you know that 84 percent of your muscles must activate to perform each rowing stroke? The founding instructor of CityRow, Annie Mulgrew, confirms this, and explains that your entire postural chain is working when you row - that includes your hamstrings, glutes, lats, and traps.
Those muscles just so happen to get weak and tight from sitting for long periods, Mulgrew adds. That's why it's essential to approach the rowing machine with a plan that safely maximizes its low-impact aerobic and anaerobic benefits.
"To get the most out of your rowing workouts, take the time to learn the proper rowing stroke and familiarize yourself with stroke rate (think: speed) and split time (think: intensity) so that you [can] row safely and vary your workouts according to your goals," Mulgrew says.
And a little tip from Mulgrew on avoiding injuries: it's always best to prioritize proper form over speed. She suggests practicing at a lower stroke rate until you move on to faster speeds to keep an effective technique.
If you're still unsure of what that looks like, don't stress. Mulgrew has our backs with a 20-minute beginner rowing workout designed to teach proper technique, introduce stroke rate and split time, and familiarize your body with working at different intensities.
The following body positioning drills will help you learn the breakdown of the strokes, Mulgrew says. If you're unsure of your form, you can check out this guide.
Now, apply what you learned throughout the warmup to this beginner workout, Mulgrew says.
"Once you feel confident in your form and stroke rates, try out the following workout, Mulgrew says.
Mulgrew points out that rowing is similar to deadlifting, as they both require strong postural chain muscles - so, if you need a quick cooldown, check out this deadlift option. Or, feel free to check out a 10-minute cooldown for all workout types, here.