Form Is Everything
Proper form while exercising on an erg is the key to getting the most out of your rowing. It will take you from very odd-looking and ineffective bicep curls to a true full-body workout.
“The first thing you need to understand is that mechanics come first. It's a learned behavior and nobody gets it right at first,” says Farmer. “After learning those basics, it's a ripple effect to achieving great results.”
Start coiled close to the rower, gripping the handles. Extend your legs (keeping your heels down), then your hips, and finally follow through by bringing the handles to your chest. It will feel unnatural. Repeat after me: legs... hips... arms... arms... hips... legs. Engrain that in your brain and you'll be pain-free and actually get all the benefits of the rowing motion. “The form ensures you work more muscles—more of the right muscles, and ultimately have more fun.”
“Just hopping on the rower with no plan can feel like a never-ending hamster wheel,” Farmer warns. “And that's not good for anyone.” Dark Horse offers this beginner workout that will get you acclimated to the erg and also allow you to test out various ways to get a good workout from rowing.
The best part about rowing is that from beginner to advanced, you'll always get a great workout. Farmer says it's completely scalable because there's no final time barrier or effort level that can't be beaten. “It's like a boxing match that you'll never win.” For a more structured plan, check out Dark Horse Rowing Crew's training plan. “It's a formalized introduction to the indoor rower and how to build your base to ensure you can have fun using the rower for the rest of your life.”