Fine-tune your form and sequencing to reap the rewards of the indoor rower.

Man using row machine

Indoor rowers — also known as ergometers, or “ergs” — are widely considered one of the best tools for a well-rounded cardio session. They offer a low-impact but highly effective workout that’s ideal for exercisers and competitive racers alike.

The motion isn’t entirely foolproof, though. While it’s easy to step on a treadmill and just walk, the erg requires an understanding of form, sequencing, and cadence.

Many assume that rowing is all in the arms, but it’s actually initiated by pressing through the feet: Power and intensity are derived from the legs and hips. Gripping the handles too tightly, scrunching up the shoulders, and hunching over can result in joint pain in the hands, wrists, and elbows, as well as lower-back discomfort.

Boost your performance and comfort by maintaining an upright posture and a proper pull: Begin with the leg drive and finish by drawing the handles close to your body. Reverse in the opposite order, extending your arms before sliding forward on the seat.

1) Start seated in the rower with hands grasping the handles, hips and knees bent, arms straight, head neutral, back straight, and shoulders level.

2) Initiate the drive with your feet. As your legs straighten, lean back slightly and pull the handle toward your body. Finish the pull with legs straight and the handle at or just below your ribs.

3) Return to the starting position by first extending your arms until they are straight, then leaning forward at the hips.

4) Once your hands have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and gradually slide your seat forward. Repeat.

RKC, MFT-1, is an Experience Life senior editor.

Photo by: Chad Holder; Styling: Shannon Darsow; Fitness model: David Freeman

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