Common Rowing mistakes and how to fix them.

You may have read my previous article about why to choose rowing as your workout routine. The article describes the reasons to choose indoor rowing and the proper technique. Whether it seems complicated or easy to you, there are common mistakes you may be making. I have listed 9 mistakes below and techniques on how to fix them.


  • Using all arms and no legs

Using your upper body and your arms too much in the rowing process. By doing this you can cause an injury by putting too much pressure on your upper body.

To fix this, you need to remember most of your power should come from your legs. Think about using your leg muscles (bigger muscles) first and then your (smaller muscles) arms to complete the stroke. One suggestion I found was to row without connecting the foot straps.  If you cannot keep your feet on the footplates, then you are doing something wrong.

  • Following the proper order

Using your legs and arms at the same time. This will also put too much pressure on your upper body.

To fix this, follow the 3-step process of the rowing stroke. First, push with your legs. Then move your hips back so your shoulders pass your pelvis. Finish with your arms pulling into your chest.

  • Hunching your back (sitting properly)

Sitting with your hips rolled forward and your back curved is not the proper form.

To fix this, sit tall with your hips and torso stacked on top or each other. Focus on your “core” abdominal muscles and relax your shoulders. Your back should not be doing all the work.

  • Banging the seat during the stroke

Your seat bangs into the front stops of the rowing machine and your body jerks forward.

To fix this, concentrate on the second half of your stroke being more controlled and smooth. Pay attention to the timing of your stroke. It should be a 1:2 count. This means you use lots of energy in the quick drive and then relax at the end of the stroke.

  • Pushing your butt out too far

This can happen when you push your legs out too quickly and your rear goes back before the rest of your body. This is called “shooting your tail”.

To fix this, engage your core to connect the movements of your upper and lower body. Make sure to straighten your back and you are moving your whole upper body and legs at the same time, not just your butt.

  • Your seat moves and nothing else

This happens when you extend your legs, the seat moves and nothing else. The handle is not moving the same time as the seat.

To fix this, focus on the first half of the stroke or drive. Sit with your knees bent, straight back, and tight core. Then extend your legs half way. Now, make sure the handle moves as your seat moves.

  1. Pulling too much with your torso

Leaning your torso backward, more than 90 degrees from the floor. This puts your back in a weak position and can lead to injury.

To fix this, squeeze your glutes at the final phase of the pull to keep your back upright. Also only bend your back as far as you can without lifting your feet from the footplates.

  1. Having a poor grip

Using your first knuckles of your fingers or holding the handle underhand is not the proper technique.

To fix this, wrap your fingers around the handle so your second knuckles face forward and your thumbs are on the underside of the handle. You also need to keep your wrists flat. If you fingers are too weak, you can use your thumbs to help with the grip. One technique I found is to tape a Popsicle stick to your wrist to keep it from bending too much.


Your feedback is important to us

What do you think of this blog post? Leave us a comment!