How to Use the Concept 2 Row Machine

Workouts with a Rowing Machine

Workouts with the rowing machines at Gloveworx often requires a little more attention and care than working with our other cardio machines. Many people aren’t sure how to use the rowing machine and constantly wonder if they’re using it correctly and getting a full workout. To help you understand how to use the Concept 2 rowing machine, read on for instructions and tips from the Gloveworx coaches.

Four Key Components

There are four key components to a workout with a rowing machine:

  • The Catch
  • The Drive
  • The Finish
  • The Recovery

The catch is where you start the stroke, the drive is where you you engage your legs and back, the finish is the fully extended stroke position, and the recovery is where you bring yourself back to neutral before beginning the next stroke. Each of these components must be fully completed to experience the maximum benefit of this machine.

The Catch

Begin the catch by grasping the handle evenly with both hands and sliding the seat all the way forward, so your knees are tucked into your chest. Your arms should be stretched out straight in front with your body, leaning slightly forward from the hips and the thoracic spine.

This position ensures you have the most distance between the starting point and finishing point of your movement. Starting in this position every time ensures that every muscle is fully engaged as you perform the rowing motion.

The Drive

To begin the drive, push firmly against the foot stretchers until your legs are almost fully extended, but not locked. Let your arms stay neutral and your trunk in the starting position until your knees reach the extended position. Once your legs are extended, pull with your trunk—hinging at the hip—and begin leaning back. Don’t move your arms quite yet, but engage the entirety of your core, glutes, and legs.

The Finish

In the finish, you finally begin to move your arms, pulling them all the way back into your abdomen. Your legs should be fully extended with your torso leaning back slightly beyond 90 degrees. At this point, every muscle in your body should be active, either pulling or pushing different areas of the rowing machine.

The Recovery

After reaching peak muscle activity, you must return your body back to its starting position for the recovery. Extend your arms over your legs and hinge at the hips to move your trunk forward before bending your knees. As you compress your body, slide the seat forward into the catch position in preparation for your next stroke. All four phases of this workout with the rowing machine should be executed in a smooth, continuous, and fluid manner.

Common Issues

There are a few common problems that Gloveworx coaches notice when others use the rowing machine to work out. Most often, people have issues between the drive and the finish phases, as well as the recovery phase.

Drive and Finish

When it comes to the drive phase, most people instinctively push with the legs and pull with the arms at the same time, forgetting to use only the legs to initiate the drive. When the arms start moving at the same time as the legs, the core is destabilized and forces the lumbar spine to move, putting pressure on the lower back. To maintain proper form during the drive and finish, challenge yourself to drive solely through your legs and hinge at the hips to keep your lower back protected.


Many people forget that the recovery phase is meant for you to take a swift break; there’s no need to rush back into the catch position. If you immediately return to the catch position and begin again, you’re forcing yourself to work harder than you need to, and you’ll tire yourself more quickly. As you begin to tire, you’re more likely to make mistakes, compensate, or injure yourself. Control your recovery movement and give yourself time for a breather during your workout with a rowing machine.

An Efficient Rower

Efficient workouts with a rowing machine is a skill that takes time to develop. Start slow, focus on each phase and how they connect to one another, and soon, you’ll be pulling harder for longer periods of time.

Want more tips on how to use the Concept 2 rowing machines? Talk to a Gloveworx coach today to get started!