A Guide to Proper Rowing Technique

A Guide to Proper Rowing Technique


Rowing is a great way to incorporate a full-body workout in your fitness routine. When rowing, you can strengthen your cardiovascular system, increase muscle endurance, and improve core strength.

In particular, you can condition your hamstrings, glutes, back, and bicep while rowing. The exercise also encourages proper posture.

Even though there are several benefits to rowing, you can cause injury to your lower back, wrists, and knees if you perform it improperly.

To reduce your risk of injury, we’ve created a step-by-step guide on proper rowing technique. We’ve mapped out the different phases and key points that will enhance your form. Perfect form takes time. We encourage constant practice to achieve smooth and strong strokes.


Before you begin rowing, sit down on the rowing seat and place your feet on the foot pedals. While sitting up straight, bend your knees and slide forward to place your feet on the pedals completely.

Use the adjustable straps to secure your feet to the pedals. If your foot pedals supports it, use the foot length adjuster to help the pedal match your foot length comfortably. Lean your body slightly forward with your back straight and extend your arms to grab the handle.

 STEP 1: Use your legs to push your body back while keeping your arms straight and grip firm on the handle. DO NOT FULLY STRAIGHTEN YOUR LEGS.  Fully straightening your legs after a hard power stroke could cause the knees to hyperextend resulting in possible injury to the knee joint and surrounding tendons and ligaments.

• STEP 2: Just before you finish your leg push, begin to pull on the handle bar while bending your elbows. As you pull with your arms you should begin to lean back slightly while keeping your head and neck straight.

• STEP 3: Using the muscles in your back and biceps, pull the bar to the area between your navel and lower chest. Keep your elbows close to your body as you are finishing the pull.

• STEP 4: To return to the starting position, extend your arms first. Lean forward slightly while maintaining an upright posture and tight core. Bend your knees to slide the rowing seat back into the starting position. When returning to the starting position, make sure to extend your arms first before bending your knees. If you don’t then you might hit your knees with the handle bar.



woman rowing with seat in forward position

A: Grip the handle firmly while keeping the wrists flat.
B: Arms are extended toward the flywheel
C: Maintain an upright posture with a slight tilt forward.
D: The seat should be in the forward position with your legs at or close to the vertical position.


woman rowing with seat in mid position, legs near full extension

A: With arms extended, press through the foot pedals.
B: Keep your posture firm and upright with a tight core.
C: Before your legs reach near full extension, start to pull on the handle and lean back slightly.


woman rowing leaning back

A: Pull the handle all the way towards the space between the navel and chest.
B: Exhale while continuing to bring your legs to near full extension and lean back.


woman rowing with seat in mid position with legs bent

A: Extend the arms toward the front of the rower.
B: Lean your torso forward following your arms toward the front of the rower.
C: Then bend your knees allowing the hips to slide the seat back into “The Catch” position.
D: Don’t forget to inhale before your next stroke!

A Guide to Proper Rowing Technique Infographic
A Guide to Proper Rowing Technique Infographic

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