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Rowing for improved fitness

The sport of rowing is where athletes race against each other on rivers, lakes and oceans. The rowers face backwards and use the oars, which are held in place by oarlocks, to propel the boat forwards. Some rowing involves using oars with both hands, or using the same oar with both hands. The number of rowers depends on the type of boat and event. Generally rowing is considered a very demanding sport requiring balance, strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Rowing is a non-weight-bearing sport that exercises and tones all the major muscle groups in the body, particularly the upper body and the legs. The movement is in a defined range, so injuries are rare although rowers can develop inflammation of the knee joints, spine and tendons in the arms if they push themselves too hard.

The stroke itself is what every rower seeks to perfect and it's what makes the difference between gliding fast and efficiently over the water or jerking around on the surface. The stroke is divided into two main parts: the "catch" where the oar blade is placed into the water, and the extraction or "release" where it leaves the water and is set up for the next stroke. Rowers will practice this cycle many times trying to maximise its efficiency.

There are lots of indoor rowing machines, but it's not the same as being on the water, and successful technique on one does not immediately mean success at the other.

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