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Rowing may not be your primary sport but it’s a great way to stay fit. There’s usually a few people at the gym who—it’s clear—take their rowing workouts very seriously. Their stroke is smooth, powerful and rhythmic. They likely have rowed on water and have calluses on their hands to prove it.

The rowing stroke is easy to learn but doesn’t always come naturally (to some). Here are some ways to approach the Rowing machine more confidently.

Dress for success. Baggy pants and shorts can get caught in the rollers and interrupt your rowing stroke. Wear close-fitting shorts, capris or tights so you’re prepared.

Get set up. The footstraps should cross above the ball of your foot. Tilt the Performance Monitor so it’s in view. The handle holder can help put the handle within reach.

Set the damper. The damper is not resistance and a setting of “10” will not be a better workout. We recommend a damper setting between 3 and 5 for all athletes.

Set up a workout. The Performance Monitor will let you “Just Row” but a time or distance workout will help you measure your performance more accurately. Then, you can row the same workout again another week to see your progress.

Find your pace (or watts or Calories). The display can show your effort in many different units. Choose what makes the most sense to you. Rowing athletes typically use pace, but watts or Calories can be helpful. The higher the watts or Calories, the harder you’re rowing. For Pace, you’re aiming to row a faster (and smaller) number as effort increases.

Aim for 22-28 spm. “Strokes per minute” (s/m) counts the number of times you slide up and down the monorail per minute. A faster “strokes per minute” does not necessarily mean a better workout. We recommend a controlled and powerful stroke.

Bring your playlist. Stay motivated with your favorite workout music or follow along with the Concept2 Workout Podcast. Wireless headphones work best to keep cords from tangling. Our smartphone cradle ($5 from Concept2) helps you perch your phone above the Performance Monitor for easy access.

Record your results. Whether you write down your workout results, record them in the Concept2 logbook, or connect via our ErgData app, we recommend keeping tabs on your hard work. This allows you to see progress from workout to workout.

Clean up the machine. When you’re finished, it is a courtesy to wipe down the handle, seat, and monorail. Gently dampen a paper towel to clean off the Performance Monitor buttons. (Do not spray the monitor directly.)

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