top of page
  • Writer's picturebrittanytblocker


When you see a rowing machine, do you inherently think that you need to PULL the handle to get the best workout?

This would appear common, your hands are on the handle and when you watch someone row, they end up pulling the handle to their chest. This seems like what would be the right way to think about the movement : as a PULL.

However this can’t be further from the truth!

Today’s post will have us talking about where the true power comes from and how you need to shift your mindset when it comes to being effective on the rowing machine.

Why do you think it’s a pull?

As mentioned above a rowing stroke appears to have a big “pull” component to it.

The handle gets gripped by your hands as you pull it towards your body. Hell, in the past I’ve even coached clients to “pull hard!” when in the midst of a workout.

It’s easy to mistake this but it’s one of the biggest mindset shifts you can make as a budding rower!

When you PULL, you use the following muscles: (during a row stroke)

  • Forearms

  • Biceps

  • Upper Back

These are all upper body muscles. When you look at your body you know that these muscles are smaller. (Compare your bicep to your quad, for example!)

The smaller the size of a muscle, the less work it can do and the less powerful it can be. Just think about how much you can bicep curl, and how much you can squat.

Let’s say you can bicep curl 20lb DB’s, but you can squat over 100lbs. What muscle is stronger and doing more work? The legs!

What about the PUSH?

When you PUSH, you will use the following muscles (during a row stroke)

  • Quads

  • Hamstrings

  • Glutes

  • Calves

  • Core

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Those muscles are the biggest in your body, as well as the strongest!

During a row stroke you should be thinking of a 60/30/10 split. 60% of power comes from your legs, 30% coming from your hips, and 10% coming from the arms.

So in order to get the most out of the machine - you need to start prioritizing and thinking of the movement as a PUSH rather than a PULL.

This mindset shift can be a game changer. It really starts to put the focus on how hard you push your feet into the foot pedals rather than how hard you can PULL the handle towards your body.

Destroy the myth!

Here’s one way that you can see this in action for yourself.

Try this drill:

Row with only your arms for 1 minute. Notice your pacing in the machine. How does your split time look?

To do this - simply lean back as if you were finishing your stroke and pull the handle to your chest without moving your back or hips.

Then, Row with only your legs for 1 minute. Notice your pacing.

To do this - simply push into the foot pedals without leaning back. Keep your arms straight the whole time and straighten your legs out until knees or locked out.

Which one creates a bigger sound from the fan, or has the lower “split time”?

See it and believe it for yourself.

I promise however that once you start thinking about the PUSH instead of the PULL - you’ll use the proper muscles and generate more force, more power, and a better calorie burn!

11 views0 comments


bottom of page