Top 6 Complementary Exercises for Rowing

Leading an injury-free life is everyone’s dream. However, it can be a challenging job for most of us. Even if we avoid heavy physical activities and stay at home, we might get injured simply by lifting a bulky household object. However, with the right exercises, we can easily avoid non-acute injuries and lower the risk of many acute injuries.

Prehab is a well-known practice in the sports medicine field. Also known as preventative rehab or prehabilitation, Prehab exercises are meant for keeping you injury-free. These exercises target a specific problem area of your body with an aim to strengthen the muscles and avoid non-acute injuries. Prehab includes balance exercises, planks, squats, and push-ups, along with other stretching and rowing exercises. In order to make prehab exercises effective, you need to maintain the correct posture and do those exercises properly.

The overall goal of prehab exercises is to minimise the chances of injury by improving your movement quality and strengthening your muscles. Apart from helping you to lead an injury-free life, these exercises improve your neuromuscular activation and coordination along with enhancing the performance of your physical activities.

Importance of Indoor Rowing Exercises

Just like running on a treadmill on the outdoor, rowing machines offer full-body exercise. This exercise can be performed both indoor and outdoor, and can up your cardio practices. When practised correctly and on a regular basis, this exercise can strengthen your cardiovascular system and bring you more power and endurance. This full-body exercise targets all your major muscle groups like quadriceps, calves and glutes and strengthens the upper body muscles like pecs, obliques, arms and abdominal muscles. With so many benefits in its bucket, rowing is an effective exercise type for both athletes and ordinary people.

However, to get the most out of a rowing exercise, you must strengthen both the rowing and non-rowing muscles. The strength training exercises play an important role in improving your rowing performance by strengthening your underdeveloped muscles. Over time, these exercises will improve your body’s overall balance and minimise the risk of injury while practising rowing both indoors and outdoors. In this article, we will discuss some effective complimentary prehab exercises for indoor rowing that will not only reduce the chances of injuries while doing physical activities but also will strengthen your core muscles and improve your overall health.

6 Strength Training Exercises for Rowing

Here are some amazing complementary exercises to pair with your rowing exercises to strengthen your core muscles, burn your fat tissues, reduce your stress level and minimise the chances of injury.

1. Front Squat

The Front Squat Workout

It is one of the best kinds of exercises to improve your rowing performance. To practise this, keep your feet wide open (shoulder width) and hold the bar either in the clean or cross grip. Now, keeping your elbows high, sit in a squat position (straight down, keeping thighs parallel to the ground). Holding the bar on your shoulder strengthens your core, upper back and quadriceps. Thus, this is a great exercise for improving power and endurance. With this exercise, you can easily achieve leg strength and perform row strokes better. This exercise reduces torso strain and helps you to avoid common rowing injuries like rib or back injuries.

2. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift Exercise

This is one of the simplest deadlift variations that can improve your rowing performance by uplifting your strength and mobility. The Romanian deadlift begins at the top of the deadlift. From this position, take support of your torso and bend your knees slightly. Now, push your hips backwards to ensure that your hamstrings are flexible. From this position, drive your hips forward towards the bar or dumbbell in an explosive motion. This exercise strengthens your hip, back and shoulder muscles and helps you with your hip hinge movement. This exercise reduces the risk of lower back pain while performing rowing exercises by improving the strength of your quadriceps and gluteal muscles.

3. Hex Bar Deadlift

Trap Deadlift

Once you learn the techniques of Romanian deadlift, train yourself harder with hex bar deadlift. Hex bar is much more effective than a barbell for deadlifting. It simplifies your overall movements by keeping your torso upright, producing less stress on the spine and making the grip easier. Practising deadlift with hex bars improves rowers’ body strength and coordination. It helps a rower to practise refined techniques and faster power application of the rowing stroke. Hex bar deadlift training minimises the risk of rowing injuries by strengthening your hip hinge movement, lower body muscles and coordination between lower and upper body muscles. You can also use this to do a rowing crossfit workout.

4. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat or RFESS is a strength training exercise to deal with muscular imbalances. This is a great exercise to strengthen your legs so that you can perform strokes better. This also helps you to get a great stretch on your back leg. In RFESS, your front leg does all the work while the back leg just rests. While performing this exercise, if you find one leg to be weaker than the other, consider performing reps with the same. This will help you to strengthen your leg muscles (quadriceps and glutes). This will also improve your overall mobility and reduce the chance of lower back and leg injuries.

5. Batwing Row

Batwing Row

The batwing row is an advanced bench pull technique. For greater stabilization, longer range of motion and more power, make use of dumbbells rather than a barbell. This exercise lowers the risk of injuries in the rib cage area. Batwing row allows you to target the shoulder muscles easily and effectively. While practising this exercise, ensure to keep your shoulder blades back and down. Also, focus on pulling your dumbbells towards your body on every rep. Apart from your shoulder blades, this exercise strengthens your mid-back and arm muscles and thus, helps you a lot in releasing the stroke while rowing. By strengthening the mid-back postural muscles and stabilizing your shoulder for better strokes, this exercise minimises the risk of shoulder injuries during rowing.

6. Push-up

Pushup Exercise

To improve your rowing performance and minimise the chances of injuries, consider practising push-ups regularly. Always try to maintain the correct posture and technique of pushup for its effectiveness. After mastering the art of this exercise, you may practise the other variations like dumbbell pressing and bench press push-ups. For proper push-up, make sure to have a braced torso along with a stable chin, chest, pelvis and shoulder blades, all touching the ground at the same time. While practising, maintain a controlled tempo. You may elevate your hands to make the practice easier. Upon mastering the technique, you may reduce the elevation to increase the challenge. The pushup is an exercise that improves your shoulder coordination and thereby improves your control over your strokes while rowing. As this exercise improves the balance between upper and lower body muscles, it reduces the risk of shoulder injuries to a great extent. You can also try some of these unusual workouts using your rowing machine.

Sayed Hamed Hosseiny
Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Hi, my name is Sayed Hamed Hosseiny. I am a professional health and fitness trainer with nearly 20 years of experience using ellipticals, rowing machines, and spin bikes. I also have my own EU-based Rock Fitness Pro fitness brand where I design, import and sell exercise equipment such as rowing machines and spin bikes. I and writers on my team also often receive fitness equipment to review and evaluate their functionalities and performance from tens of different exercise machines manufacturers. Fitness equipment tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on this website are my opinion (and opinions of my fitness expert colleagues) based on tens of criteria. I never accept payment to write reviews of products or say positive things about fitness equipment products. If brands are interested to have me review their rowers, ellipticals, or spin bikes, they can get in touch with me via email provided on the contact page and send a sample of their product.

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