Category Archives: Rowing Fitness

Training for The Concept2 2000m Test

There are always a number of questions that arise when talking about technique on the Concept2 or Waterrower rowing machines. Most beginners make the same mistake of using their arms far too early in the stroke and not really putting much leg power into the pull. These are fairly basic errors that can be corrected by getting an experienced rower to coach you or watching a training video such as this one.

This video shows some of the common mistakes

So as you improve and start to work on your 2000m times, finer points of technique start to come into play.
Where should you pull your hand to when on the rowing machine?
Afloat you have to keep the blades in and then feather, wherever that takes your hands. Low for flat water, higher if rigged for rough weather. Most oarsmen seem to keep wrists high aground too, presumably from habit.
But on a grounded erg, no need to lift wrists, it’s much easier to keep wrists flat and all in line with the chain, as Concept2 writes, so that there are no bending moments anywhere. Any extra length from cocking the wrists can only be small and at the expense of small muscle-tendon units in the forearms, so not worth it and possibly risky as noted above. Better save a little time to get in an extra stroke done full body. Continue reading Training for The Concept2 2000m Test

2K on the Concept2 – No Place To Hide!

The British Rowing team has a long and impressive history and a close connection to the Concept2 Rowing Machine. The level of training is beyond what normal human beings like you and me could really contemplate. One of the big standard tests of how good / fit you are is the two kilometer sprint on the Concept 2. All rowers of every standard dread it.  You put yourself on the line, there is no place to hide. Watch the video to see what they think of it.

The Concept2, 2K Test

There are very few sports which challenge the body as much as rowing. That said, it is a safe way to get fit as it does not harm the joints in the same way that running  does. The British Rowing team and pretty much all of the worlds rowing clubs use the Concept2 as their chosen Ergo due to the fact that it is so accurate. You can do the test at sea level in London or on top of the a mountain and the data will still be the same. Continue reading 2K on the Concept2 – No Place To Hide!

Rowing: The New Cardio

Chances are your entire cardio life has consisted of alternating stints on the treadmill, elliptical and bike. You probably thought that would be the best way to burn calories, torch fat and increase your overall fitness, right? Wrong. Turns out you should have been rowing. The oft-forgotten rowing machine burns the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time with the lowest perceived rate of exertion, while being easiest on your precious, carefully-honed body.

It’s not your fault. You didn’t know any better. And why? Well, for two reasons: First, the poor rowing machine is usually cast to the corner like an unwanted stepchild — an afterthought amidst the more high-profile cardio equipment of treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. Not very motivating. And secondly, you most likely don’t know how to use it. Continue reading Rowing: The New Cardio

Rowing Injuries and How to Avoid Them

While using a rowing machine is great exercise, many exercise enthusiasts suffer from injuries because they have been over zealous in their workouts. Some may have to stop rowing altogether. More often they have to cut back on their exercise regimen.

Using a rower to train is relatively safe form if you compare this form of exercise treadmills or cycling. However, once you ramp up to a more aggressive level of rowing including more challenging workouts, this is where injuries often occur.

The most common rowers’ injuries include:

  1. Back Pain

StatueMost rowers experience lower back pain caused by muscle fatigue from training too often, setting resistance too high, and/or having poor technique. Rowing isn’t intended to be a sole exercise program. To avoid back injuries it is important to add activities like swimming, jogging, and lifting weights. Also if you experience back pain, a solution is to lessen resistance, alter your rowing  technique, shorten workouts, and/or suspend rowing for a few days.

  1. Rib Stress

Competitive rowers may experience sharp pains in their ribs when rowing, or when breathing heavily. They may discover they have a stress fracture. The only remedy is to cease rowing immediately and wait for the stress fracture to heal. When you resume rowing add push-ups and bench presses to build strength and prevent further rib stress fractures.

  1. Inflammation of Joints

Fluid-filled sacs act as cushions for your joints. Repetitive movement of any joints can inflame the joints, muscles and/or tendons. Thus, we have Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel, and Rower’s hip, or knee inflammations. Symptoms of this injury include pain and swelling and redness when in the knee or hip. The best treatment is to apply ice to the painful area and rest until the inflammation eases. Stretch between workouts will help avoid this injury. Adding resistance training with weights to your workout is also good prevention.

  1. Blisters and Calluses

The repetitive motion of rowing often results in blisters on the hands. While blisters aren’t serious, they can be uncomfortable and can become infected if not treated and covered with sterile bandages. Wearing a good pair of non-slip gloves can help prevent blisters. Another preventative step is to make sure your oars have a well-designed handle designed for your hands. Wipe the oar handles after every workout to prevent bacteria. In time, your hands will toughen and those blistered areas will become callused. Until then, use short rowing sessions to prevent serious blisters and wear gloves.

  1. Tendinitis

Because of the repetitive arm movement, those who exercise on rowing machines or row as a competitive sport often experience muscle strains in the arm or elbow tendinitis. Poor rowing technique will increase the chances of this injury. Thus, a good preventative measure is to make sure your rowing technique is good. Making strength training a part of your workout will build muscular power to cope with the demands of rowing.

Common Causes of Rowing Injuries

  • Poor technique
  • Lack of fitness
  • Over exertion
  • Focusing solely on rowing as an exercise
  • Lack of strength training
  • Poor posture
  • Too high a resistance setting

How to Prevent Rowing Machine Injuries

  • Make sure you are physically fit.
  • Make sure your general health is good.
  • Correct any technique rowing errors immediately to prevent rowing injuries
  • Warm up thoroughly before rowing.
  • Make stretches an important part of your cool down routine.

How to Manage Rowing Machine Injuries

  • If you suffer an injury when rowing, stop immediately to prevent further damage. It is not smart to “row through the pain”. It will only aggravate the injury.
  • Seek prompt treatment of your injury. Thinking it will simply go away is dangerous and may result in chronic injuries.
  • The sooner you treat a rowing injury, the sooner you will be able to return to rowing.
  • Soft tissue injuries such as: ligament sprains, muscle strains, scrapes, contusions, and/or bruises should be treated with rest, ice, compression, and/or elevation. If you do not get quick relief from this first-aid treatment seek the advice of a health professional.
  • Do not jump back into rowing until you have completely recovered and/or your doctor gives you the green light to resume rowing.
  • If injuries have prevented you from rowing for a while start slowly and build up to where you were when you had to stop rowing.


What are the benefits of a rowing machine workout?

If you’re looking for an exercise machine that will help you lose weight build strength in major muscle groups and maintain bone density no matter what your age or level of fitness rowing is the perfect exercise for you.  Rowing also offers those who are recovering from an injury or surgery a good workout that won’t irritate injuries or incisions.

When you row, not only your arms, legs, chest, back, and abs but also your mind gets a complete workout. The smooth, rhythmic motion of rowing and the time to let your mind wander do wonders to relieve stress.

If you have aging joints rowing offers Low-impact exercise that is easy on the knees and ankles. Rowing proceeds at your own pace. Thus, people of any age or fitness level can do it. Rowing actually improves range of motion for bodies that are aging and losing range of movement. Continue reading What are the benefits of a rowing machine workout?

Strength training for Rowing

What is Strength Training?

Strength training includes any physical exercise which uses resistance to stimulate muscular contraction.

Why do Strength Training?

There are lots of good reasons for doing strength training exercises.

Strength training builds muscle strength and size and anaerobic endurance.

Strength training can also provide improvement in general health, including increased bone density, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, increased joint movement, and improved cardiac function. Strength training will also raise HDL cholesterol and lessen the likelihood of injury. Continue reading Strength training for Rowing

Rowing Training Diet

When you are in training good nutrition rules don’t change. However, because of the calories you burn during workouts there are some eating suggestions that will help you stay strong and energetic. Variety in foods including fruits, veggies, nuts, dairy products, and whole grains is the secret to peak performance levels.

Unlike a diet for people engaged in less strenuous activity, athletes in training consume more carbohydrates and fats. These fuel the physical activity. Athletes may also need more protein than regular diet. Continue reading Rowing Training Diet

The Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine


Check out the equipment at any fitness center, health club or home gymnasium. Chances are you will find treadmills, stationary bikes, step machines and cross trainers. Less likely are you to see rowing machines. Oh, there might be one or two sitting in a corner, unused.

It seems strange that these machines are not front and center with the rows of treadmills, spinning machines and steppers. Rowers, also called ergometers, are not the exercise or toning machines of choice. Nevertheless these machines can provide an amazing workout.

Rowing machines are an efficient single fitness machine. They provide many health benefits including: aerobic workouts, calorie burning, increased muscle strength, elongated muscles toning, and weight loss.

Why Use a Rowing Machine?

There are several reasons to consider rowing as part of a workout.

  1. Aerobic workout:

A stationary rowing machine uses a large number of major muscle groups. Thus, it raises your heart rate and increases your oxygen uptake. Besides the energy required for simply rowing  the machine also can adjust resistance thereby increasing the energy required.

Rowing machines with all the bells and whistles monitor heart rate via a chest strap.

  1. Calorie burning:

Frederick Hagerman, director of the Work Physiology Lab at Ohio University, states that the rowing machine is the supreme calorie burning machine. Research shows that rowing burns 10 to 15 percent more calories than cycling—the next best calorie burner—at the same level of exertion

At a normal rowing speed, the stationary rowing-machine will burn up an average of 600 calories per hour. To get the same results on a stationary bike you’d have to ride eighteen minutes longer.

Rowing machines get such good results because you must expend equal effort on both lower and your upper body. To get maximum calorie burning, on the back stroke, your knees should be almost completely straight before you squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the handle up to your chest. Your back should remain naturally arched.  Set the rowing machine at a resistance of four. Set the timer for twenty minutes. Complete sets of 10, 15, and 20 power strokes. Make sure to pull the handle to your body as fast and as hard as you can. Intersperse the power strokes with one minute of easy rowing. Repeat this cycle until the timer dings.

  1. Upper body conditioning:

Rowing machines work the rhomboids in the shoulder, trapezius in the upper back and lats in the lower back as well as the biceps, pecs. The strong grip required on the oars produces stronger hands and wrists.

The rowing machine is one of the best exercises for building muscles in your back, arms, and chest.

  1. Lower body conditioning:

In rowing the abdominals are engaged throughout the entire motion. Where running, jogging, and skipping jar the joints, rowing machine workouts are low-impact exercise. Rowing is especially good as a lower body workout. It involves the quads in the upper front of the thighs, as well as the calves and glutes in your buttocks.

Which Rowing Machine?

For home fitness rowing machines provide one of most efficient single machines for optimum full-body workouts. For the best lower-body workout, choose a rower with a sliding seat.

Rowing machines work your upper body, lower body and abdominal muscles with just one motion. There are many different styles and brands of rowers. Before purchasing a rowing machine, do the research. Consider resistance method, size, accessories, and price.

Low risk of injury:

Rowing is a natural, low impact motion. It puts minimal stress on the joints. Regardless of age most people can use a rowing machine for exercise. Even those with mobility issues can make use of this efficient machine. Low to the ground, the rowing machine presents even less risk of falling or losing your balance than a stationary bike.


With rowing, the potential for back strain is a concern. However, if you are careful to use the correct rowing posture, the risk of back strain is lessened. Proper rowing posture lets your legs do the work, taking the pressure off your back. As well, you control the speed and tension so you can stop at any time and adjust tension.


How to get fit and lose weight

The state of the game

So you’re in your ‘over-twenties’ and things are starting to go a bit pear shaped – literally! That lithe and spritely body you used to possess when you were twenty is suffering from ten years or more sitting behind a desk being filled with processed carbohydrates. Your knees creak, your back hurts, things are sagging and you have started to make grunting noises when you stand up.

Once you hit thirty, if you do nothing about it, you will start to lose muscle at the rate of about 0.25KG (½lb) per year. This has the effect of putting your joints under more strain and lowers you metabolic rate, which slows down your ability to burn fat. Simply put, if you don’t keep your muscles in shape, the speed at which you put on fat will just keep on increasing.

A typical day

Your alarm goes off at 7am. You hit snooze a couple of times and end up getting up at 7:45. You madly get dressed and rush a bowl of Cornflakes down while you make your coffee flask for the car. You fight the morning traffic getting more and more stressed because your boss has already warned you about getting in late. You just make it. Around 10am you’re starving. You head to the vending machine and grab a ‘healthy choice’ Kellogg’s Nutrigrain cereal bar and another coffee. Lunch time: not much time as you have a deadline to meet so hurry down to Subway and grab a ‘lean’ sandwich with turkey salad (no dressing), because you want to be healthy. You get home from work, defrost your evening meal and flop down on the couch in front of the TV. There’s a good sitcom on so you don’t go to bed until 12.

OK, it may be a bit exaggerated, but I am sure that some of this will ring true with you. Let’s analyse your day a bit. Cornflakes are made of simple carbohydrates and a high glycaemic index (GI), which means that they are absorbed into your blood quickly pushing up your blood glucose level. In order to push this back down again, the body produces insulin. This does two things. Firstly it pushes your blood sugar levels down as it is meant to do, but it happens relatively quickly and gives you low blood sugar leading to you becoming hungry (hence your need for a mid-morning snack). Secondly it encourages the body to store the excess sugar as fat. The milk you had with the cereal provides you with mostly protein and fat. If you chose the lighter version, it’s not a bad start.

Whilst the cereal bar is a better choice than a bar of chocolate, it will still send your blood sugar shooting up. The Subway sandwich is most likely 80% white bread even though it may say whole grain. Again, high GI pushes up the blood glucose. The turkey filling… is that really organic? Or is it pressed together pieces of what’s left over at the meat factory? So then you drive back home and pick up a frozen ‘healthy option’ microwave meal. Do you really know what’s in it? Then it’s TV dinner time. You become completely sedentary for several hours after eating until you go to bed. And you wonder why you’re overweight!

It’s time to change!

No one says that losing weight and staying fit is easy – It requires discipline and hard work. However, if you go about it in the right way, it is fun to get fit and the rewards are enormous:

  • Your health will improve
  • You will have more energy
  • You will be sharper and better at your job
  • You can wear the clothes you want and not just the clothes that cover you up
  • You can look good in a bathing suit again
  • You won’t enter a room and check to see if you’re fattest person there any more (and be secretly pleased to discover you’re not)
  • You will enjoy the compliments people are giving you
  • You will take the stairs because you can
  • You will be able to play on the floor with your kids again because getting up is not such a struggle
  • Etc, etc, etc….

Diets – aaarrrrggghhhh!!!

South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers… you’ve tried them all. And yes, you did lose weight. But then you put it all back on again. Have you ever thought about how much money you spent on diets? Most people have no idea how to lose weight and get sucked in by slick advertising from huge marketing budgets. Have you ever wondered why the advertising is so slick? The industry is gigantic – it’s worth over $60 billion in the US alone! So, one is saying low carbs, the next low protein – which one do you choose?

Losing weight and getting fit is not complicated

So here’s what the billion dollar weight loss industry does not want you to hear. To lose weight, all you have to do is consume fewer calories than you eat. That’s it! Well almost…. Exactly where you get your calories from is pretty important as is how and to a certain extent when you exercise.

How do you do that right? Well that’s what this guide is all about. If you want have the body of a twenty year old again, be prepared for some hard work but always keep in sight what the benefits will be.

Step by step

Follow this guide step by step for however long it takes to get to your goal weight / level of fitness. A healthy speed to lose weight is 0.5KG (1lb) per week. So if you need to drop 25 kilos (50lbs) you are realistically looking at a year. Stay on track and you will achieve!


Job number one

Before you read any further, write down in no more than five sentences why you want to lose weight, get fit and have more energy. Really think about this as it will be your mantra for the coming months. Do you want to buy that size 10 dress you saw in the shop window? Do you want to run around playing ball with you kids for more than five minutes before you’re exhausted? Is it the bikini or the six pack? Whatever they are, they should be very important to you. Write them on a smallish piece of paper and stick them up in the corner of the bathroom mirror. Every morning and evening, read them out loud.

The biggest reason people fail in their efforts to lose weight is they lack the motivation and self-discipline to keep going. There are always going to be days when you can’t make it to the gym but there is never a day where you can’t get up half an hour earlier and do some exercises (more about that later). It’s all about wanting it enough!

Calories (kcal)

The first thing you need to establish if you want to lose weight is how many Calories your body needs in a day just to stay alive. When you sleep, your organs are still churning away; pumping blood, breathing, digesting and even dreaming requires energy. This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR for short. However, the number we tend to use for calculating the number of Calories you need in a day is your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), which as the name suggest is a measure of your calorific requirement in a state of rest.

There are a number of calculations available to work this out but we are going to stick to the Mifflin-St.Jeor as this has been established as the most accurate for non-athletes. Here’s the calculation:

Men – 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

Women – 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161

This is your Resting Metabolic Rate. You need to adjust this to suit you need when you are not at rest, which of course is most of the day. To do this, multiply your RMR by the appropriate number in the list below:

  1. Mostly sedentary (Most of the day spent seated or standing – e.g. desk job, teacher) RMR x 1.4
  2. Moderately active (regular brisk walking or equivalent – e.g. hospital nurse) RMR x 1.7
  3. Very active (Hard physical job – e.g. window cleaner that climbs a lot of ladders ) RMR x 2.0

To make life easier, there’s a hand little calculator online at

You need to be careful about how much you put in the field exercise level as this will make quite a difference to your daily calorie intake. As we are starting training, you can assume that you will be working out at least three times a week, so you can safely put 3 times/week in the exercise level box.

So now that you have established your Calorie requirements in a day, you can reduce this by 10% – 20% to find that safe level at which you can lose weight. The field weight loss in the calorie calculator reduces the intake by 20%. The problem with many diets is that they reduce your calorie intake quite drastically, which causes the body to react by lowering its metabolic rate in an attempt to conserve energy stores. It will also increase protein oxidation and glycogen depletion resulting in a reduction in lean muscle tissue, low energy levels and extreme hunger. Of course, if you reduce the amount of muscle you have, you also decrease further decrease your metabolic rate, making weight loss even harder.

Imagine you are lost in the desert. You have run out of food but have at least found a supply of water. Your body will try to keep you alive for as long as possible until help arrives. Fat contains 9kcal of energy per gram; protein and carbohydrate only 4g. It stands to reason then that the body will try to conserve the fat stores for as long as possible as this is where the most energy is. It will, therefore, use up all your carbohydrate store and then start eating your own muscles. Crash dieting has the same effect.

So rule number one: Reduce your calorie intake by 10-20%.


No Time

Pretty much everyone knows that exercise is good for your health. Most people are also extremely good at finding excuses not to do any! The excuse I most frequently hear is ‘I have no time to exercise’. My general answer to that is ‘do you have time for hospital?’ The fact is that many illnesses (high blood pressure, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes to name but a few) are caused obesity, which in turn is mostly caused by bad diet and lack of exercise is not open to question. A study showed that the average hospital stay in 2004 for obesity related problems in adults was 6.74 days. (Vellinga, Akke; O’Donovan, Diarmuid; De La Harpe, Davida, January 2008). That’s 161 hours of lost exercise time!! At three one hour sessions per week, that’s one year’s worth of training.

How to exercise

One of the biggest misnomers is the idea that in order to burn more fat you have to exercise for hours at a low intensity. The fact is that if you exercise at a high intensity, you will burn more fat in the same amount of time. You will also have the added benefit of the ‘after-burn’ effect, which is where your metabolism continues to rev at a higher rate for two or three hours after the workout in order to help recovery.

For example, walking, which is a low intensity aerobic activity, for 1 hour burn approximately 270kcal, of which 160kcal (60% of the calories) comes from fat. Running, which is a high intensity aerobic activity, for the same time burns 680 kcal of which 270 kcal (40% of the calories) comes from fat. Get on an indoor rowing machine and you will burn another 20% on top of that without the impact on your joints.

It is important to bear in mind that what is considered high intensity for one person could be low intensity for another. If running is too hard for you to keep up for any length of time, it means that you need to start with something like fast Nordic Walking. (There are plenty of instructional videos on Youtube for this).

Another almost completely neglected part of a weight loss exercise program is resistance training. This could mean lifting weights in the gym or following a program of own body weight exercises such as press-ups and sit-ups.

Building muscle has a multitude of benefits for those of us trying to stay young.

  • enables you to lift and move things more easily
  • stabilizes and protects your joints
  • increases your metabolic rate

Your training plan for effective weight loss should, therefore, include both high intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Try to alternate days – For example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday do resistance training; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday high intensity aerobic. You’re probably thinking that you don’t have time for all that, but you can do it all at home.

Get up 45 minutes earlier. Before you eat, do either your resistance training or go out for a run/Nordic walk. Some own body weight exercises you can do in your living room.

  • Press-ups – if you can’t manage full press-ups, you can start by supporting yourself on your knees rather than your toes.
  • Crunches – lie on your back with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your knees bent. Fingers lightly touching the side of your head. Bring your elbows to your knees.
  • Lunges – this is a big step forward and a then a push back to standing. Swap legs and repeat.
  • Cranes – standing on one leg, lean forward and stretch the same side arm out in front of you and the other leg out behind. Curl up by bringing the two stretched out limbs (elbow to knee) together. Stretch out again. Do three sets repeating each side 5-8 times.

There are literally hundreds of such exercises. Just search Google or YouTube for ‘own body weight workouts’.

Putting it all into practice

  1. If you haven’t already done so, write your five reasons for wanting to get fit and healthy
  2. Work out how many calories you need per day
  3. Check out the dietary information on the food you buy to see how many calories you are eating
  4. Write down a realistic training schedule