1. There is a sequence to the row stroke: LEGS – HIPS – ARMS – ARMS – HIPS – LEGS. You cannot change this sequence without losing power and efficiency. Practice this on a damper setting of “1” until you can successfully perform this sequence consistently.
  2. Sit up with a tall spine. Lots of people tend to forget this after a few strokes and end up hunched over. You are much for efficient for transferring energy from your body to the Erg (rowing machine) when you are tight. Think about this: if you were trying to push a car down the street, would you set up with your arms straight against the car and brace your core, or would you set your arms up like a soggy piece of pasta? Tight! Otherwise you wouldn’t conduct the energy to the car. Same deal on the rowing machine.
  3. Push with your legs. It’s easy to make the mistake of using your back or your arms to row instead of your legs. But the muscles in the legs are what should be the primary mover in this exercise. In the “drive” phase of the stroke, you should focus on pushing the feet into the footplate and extending the knees fast.
  4. In the “finish” position (or “release” position), the very back of the stroke when the legs are extended and the handle is pulled back to the sternum, your forearms should be parallel to the floor.
  5. Also in the finish, your torso should be leaning back slightly past vertical. Many athletes make the mistake of leaning much too far back where they are no longer powerful. Think 11:00 position on a clock.
  6. In the “catch” position, your shoulders should be slightly in front of the hips. Think the 1:00 position on a clock.
  7. Do NOT let your seat hit you in the heels! This is the equivalent of letting your butt hit your heels at the bottom of your deadlift (yikes!). Keep tension throughout your body in the catch position. Remember the position we talked about in #6.
  8. In the recovery phase (going from the finish back to the catch), stay loose and relaxed, and actually use those few seconds to relax your muscles before your next drive.
  9. Don’t forget to breathe! Easy to do for us CrossFitters, right? Exhale as you drive with your legs, inhale as you recover.
  10. Your mantra should be “coooool as a cucumber.” You shouldn’t look like a flailing fish on the Erg, you should be smooth and consistent. Create long, smooth rowing strokes and don’t allow the chain of the Erg to shake uncontrollably.