The Power Half-Hour (cont.)

Row, Row, Row Your Erg!

Sep 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

   Photo: Marcus Swanson

Frequency: one or two times weekly
Fitness Prerequisite: moderate
Duration: 20-30 minutes

"I coach at a boathouse, but when I want a quick workout, I get on the machine instead of the water," says two-time Olympic rower Tom Bohrer. He knows what the crowds flocking to your gym's spinning classes do not: Pulling an ergometer, or rowing machine, simultaneously rips into the largest muscle groups in the upper and lower body, even as it inflates your heart and lungs to dirigible proportions. A few ferocious intervals on an erg each week and you'll soon find that summer physique shining back at you in the mirror.

Rowing Technique
Catch: While leaning forward and keeping your wrists flat, grip the rowing machine handle and extend your arms straight toward the flywheel. Slide forward on the seat until your shins are vertical; the seat should come within ten or so inches of your heels. Drive: Begin the drive by pressing with your legs as you keep your arms straight and back steady to transfer your leg power up to the handle. Gradually bend your arms and swing back with your upper body, extending your legs for leverage until you reach a slight backward lean at the finish. The fiercer you pull, the harder the resistance—and the workout. "I see people going 32 to 35 strokes a minute—that would kill me," says Bohrer. "If you want to work harder, take harder strokes." Most indoor rowers pull somewhere between 18 and 26 times a minute. Finish, Recovery, and Return: At this point, the handle will be pulled within an inch or so of your abdomen and your legs will be straight and fully extended. Your wrists should remain flat. Prepare for another stroke by extending your arms back toward the flywheel, leaning forward so that your torso follows your arm. Don't move your knees until your wrists extend past your kneecaps, then bend your legs smoothly to slide forward on the seat back to the catch position to begin the next stroke.

WARM-UP Easy pulls—about 18-20 strokes per minute) 5 minutes
SPRINT Hard pulls—more than 20 strokes per minute, at about 80 percent of your maximum effort 3 sets, 5 minutes each (3-minute rests at warm-up pace in between)

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