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Most of us have a lot going on in our lives. Between getting the kids off to school, sending the car to the shop for repairs and also the small matter of 40+ hour work week, it is getting increasingly difficult to dedicate the necessary time to achieve your goals in the gym.

This is why it is important to use whatever time you have dedicated to increasing your personal fitness wisely and if you only have, say, 20 minutes to spare before work or at lunchtime, there is one machine in the gym which stands above others in the pursuit of muscle-toning and cardiovascular exercise: the rower.

However, in order to achieve the type of gains that you are looking for it is important to make sure that you are using the equipment correctly.

According to former professional rower Morgan Hellen, there are a handful of tips you can take advantage of to give yourself the best possible chance of improvement — and it begins by making sure you have the correct grip and posture.

“The start – also known as the catch – and the finish are key positions and something you should practise before taking a stroke,” says Hellen via

“At the catch, you should have your legs compressed [knees bent, bum to heels] with vertical shins, have a straight back, be leaning slightly forwards (about 15°) and have your arms out straight in front at chest level with your shoulders down and relaxed. You should be holding the handle with your thumbs under, fingers on top and little fingers almost hanging off each end.

“At the finish you should have your legs extended with knees flat, a straight back leaning slightly backwards – again, about 15° – and arms bent at the elbow with flat wrists. The handle should be just below your pecs and hand positioning should remain the same throughout the stroke.

“Starting from the catch you should drive your knees down flat, keeping your arms straight and your body slightly forwards. Swing your body back and then pull with your arms, bringing your thumbs to your chest. Each of these stages will slightly overlap but should stay mostly separate in a continuous loop. To get back to the catch, do the same in reverse.


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Rowing machines provide a great cardiovascular workout that strengthens your heart and lungs, burns calories and promotes significant weight loss. A person using the rowing machine will activate most of the muscles in their body, giving a great total body workout, not just the legs as many would believe. If you’re looking to burn calories, a treadmill at a steep incline will produce results faster, however, working in sessions on the rowing machine will allow you to obtain an almost equivalent burn, with the added benefit of building muscle.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ Image Credit: @jasonstatham⠀ #themaclife #health #mcgregorfast #conormcgregor #training #fitness #runnersworld #goals #trainhard #workhard #beastmode #thenotoriousmma #workrate #workoutadvice #workouts #advice #motivation #healthadvice #JasonStatham

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Intervals vs. Intensity

As you progress and improve, you can up the intensity and decrease the timing of your intervals but you must remember to not compromise on your form while doing so.

“Generally, the more strokes you take the faster you will go, but not if you compromise the stroke length or let off the pressure,” Hellen says. “Stroke rate should increase with the intensity of the workout. Try about 20SPM (strokes per minute) for longer, low-intensity workouts and about 30SPM for shorter, higher-intensity workouts.”

As for the damper setting on the machine, Hellen recommends somewhere between 4 and 6 as this provides the best representation of rowing on actual water.

And as for the routine recommended by Hellen, give the below a shot and adjust depending on your results.

Interval 1

Time 5min SPM 22 Rest 1min

Interval 2

Time 4min SPM 24 Rest 1min

Interval 3

Time 3min SPM 26 Rest 1min

Interval 4

Time 2min SPM 28 Rest 1min

Interval 5

Time 1min SPM 30 Rest 1min