Rowing Equipment – Erg Training Basics

You went out and bought a nice shiny new ergometer. Your rowing machine has been a dream for a while and now you have it at home.

Now what?

Well, do us all a favour and get some technique help, watch a video or better yet get some instruction – health clubs are full of often perfectly fit folks with the most embarrassing technique. I’d explain it here but you need something visual. Learn a bit and you’ll enjoy your erg. Ignore my advice and you’ll destroy your back, get little from the workout and look, frankly, like an idiot.

‘nuff said.

This isn’t jogging folks. You don’t get on the erg and shuffle along with little effort. The rowing machine is the ultimate full-body burn-a-tonne-of-calories exercise device.  It also isn’t sprinting – the first few strokes will seem easy, especially with health-club technique – but it isn’t. Slow down Charlie – if you sprint your workout will be over in a minute or two at best.

No, you need to learn to settle into a hard puling 18-22 strokes a minute rowing workout. Pull hard, then relax. Runners like to work hard all the time. Rowers like to pull and then enjoy a small break as they recover for the next stroke. Enjoy that time!

So – sort out your ergometer technique. Learn the basics of pacing and how to handle the low stroke rates of 18-22. Now enjoy the thrill of a long endurance workout.

Your first bout on a rowing machine will of course depend on your current level of fitness, but let me suggest that you try to maintain your pace for 10 minutes without stopping. Sounds easy, but if you are learning then it won’t be (see info on pacing and technique).

Get that down and extend your time on the machine. 3 x 10 minutes is a good aim or 2 X 20 minutes. The variations are endless - just keep your heart rate up for an extended period of time. No so much that your lungs are searing and your heart wants to blow out your chest wall. Just enough to make talking tough, but not impossible.

Later, we’ll give you some tips for maintaining your rowing machine and for changing up your workouts.