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With practice, you'll find your smooth rowing stroke. (Image: Courtesy CITYROW)
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DC Refined x ShapinUp: Row + strength workout

Now that we're entering winter and the weather isn't tempting us to go for a long run outside, it's a great time to explore some of the perhaps overlooked equipment at your gym. Today we're focusing on the rower. Maybe you've jumped on the rower for a couple of strokes or have seen it used in group fitness classes like Orangetheory, or maybe you have absolutely no idea how to use the rower. The great news is that it's a highly effective piece of equipment and after a little practice you can pick up proper rowing form.

Today's workout is a mix of time on the rower and time on the weight floor using body weight for strength work. First, let's break down proper rowing form.

How to Use an Indoor Rower

The prep is simple. Set up the foot plates so the strap is going around the widest part of your foot. Pull the strap so your feet are secure. The screens vary by make and model, if you can't figure it out by pressing a couple of buttons, ask a trainer for assistance.

Many people think rowing is an upper body focused exercise when in fact you'll be using more lower body strength. Think of the row power as 60 percent from your legs, 20 percent from your core and 20 percent from your arms.

Grab the handle bars with straight arms and a straight back. Keep your arms straight while pushing back with your legs. Once legs are nearly straight (they can have a micro-bend, make sure not to hyperextend your knees), slightly hinge your core back and feel your core engage. Hold there and pull your arms with the handle bars into your chest. Now you'll reverse to end the stroke. Release your arms back to straight, bring your core slightly forward and bend your knees to bring you back to your starting position. If you've taken an Orangetheory class you probably heard the instructor cueing "legs-core-arms-arms-core-legs" to remind you of the proper order. Remember this as you row. It typically takes some practice but eventually you will find your flow and the proper stroke with feel smooth.

As mentioned, the majority of your row power is going to come from your legs. Think about this with each stroke. Push back super strong with your legs, pressing your heels deeply into the baseboard to make the pushback extra powerful. Don't rush the stroke, you don't have to move through the row stroke quickly to produce power.

Row + Strength Workout

Now that you've got basic rowing form down, check out today's workout for a full body rowing experience. All you need is a rower and a mat for floor work. There are 6 sets total, 3 on the rower and 3 on the floor. As you transition from rower to floor, take breaks as needed. Aim to keep them under 60 seconds to stay focused in your workout.

Love Rowing?

If you fall in love with rowing workouts, there are a couple of row-specific studios popping up in the DC area, or you can bring rowing into your home with CITYROW GO, a recently launched at-home program that includes a rower and immersive app with video workouts. Not ready to invest in your own rower? You can download the CITYROW GO app for $19.99 and use it to guide you through rowing workouts at the gym.

Challenge yourself in this workout, push hard and row strong!

And if you missed last month's workout, check out the Ab Burner Workout HERE and visit ShapinUp.com for more fitness-focused content.


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