Common Rowing Terms, Explained

Going to a new workout class is stressful enough. Learning totally new lingo? Well, that’s the hardest part. If you’re new to indoor rowing or still feel lost when your class instructor spits out these key terms, bookmark this article and read it before you row next. That way the only thing you’ll have to think about during class is the workout itself (and how incredible your body will feel afterward).

Rowing terms

Concept 2: The world’s most popular indoor rowing machine (a.k.a. the flagship ergometer)

Model D: Their best-selling machine, which is similar to water rowers to give you the same feel you’d get rowing on the water.

Model E: The main difference between this model and other Concept2 rowers is the higher seat height, which makes it easier for users with knee or hip issues or limited flexibility.

Dynamic: Ideal for rowers training to compete in a race on the water, this machine has a stationary seat, which means the feet do the sliding.

Erg: Another name for a rowing machine, often used by manufacturers and professionals.

Flywheel Rowing Machine: To offer a similar feel to outdoor rowing, these machines gain resistance from the pulling motion, which spins a flywheel with fan blades attached. The Concept 2 is a popular example.

Pace: The measure of speed on a rowing machine, often described as the length of time it takes to row 500 meters.

Rating: The number of strokes per minute a person is rowing.

Ready-All, Row: The traditional starting command for most rowing classes.

Stamina Rowing: A more affordable air rower than Concept 2, yet still popular among studios and rowers alike.  

Stroke: One full rowing action broken into four phases, which include:

Catch: Using an overhand grip with flat wrists, hold the rower handle with arms fully extended. Legs should be bent with shins starting in a vertical position.

Drive: Pushing with your feet, straighten the legs and pull the handle past your knees until it reaches your abdomen.  

Finish: Your shins should be horizontal — fully straight — with the upper body leaning slightly backward. The handle touches the lowest rib, with the chain maintaining a straight horizontal position.

Recovery: Lean forward with the upper body and once the handle passes your knees, they bend and return to the catch position with shins vertical.

Water Rowing: These machines mimic the sound and feel of rowing on the water with a water flywheel that provides a natural resistance and rushing water sound. Ideal for those training for outdoor rowing.

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