This DESTROYS Your Gains

The Ultimate Guide to Perfecting Your Rowing Technique

Rowing can build a strong upper back and improve your mobility.

But most people perform it like meh. Limiting their gains and motion in the process.

That changes today.

In this guide, we’ll dive into rowing biomechanics and technique. Learning what you will today will ensure you mega mobility gains and a MASSIVE upper back.

Check it all out below!

The Scapula is key in Rowing 🪽

The key to rowing like a boss lies in the scapula, or shoulder blade.

Most upper back muscles, such as the rhomboids, traps, and lats, attach somewhere on the scapula. If you want to work these muscles, then scapula MUSRT move. It needs to retract or glide backward.

Retraction – scapulae move toward spine (photo credit: Anamotagraphy)

Scapular retraction changes where the air goes into the lungs. Squeezing backside muscles pushes more air towards the front. This expands the anterior thorax (also known as the pump handle). You need anterior expansion for shoulder internal rotation and associated measures.

Common Mistakes in Rowing Technique 🏋️‍

It’s SO EASY to screw up form on the row. This can limit upper back gains and mobility improvements. Weak and you can’t move. Lame.

Let’s fix that by noting common technique issues.

Humeral movement only

Instead of moving the scapula, most people overextend the humerus. You’ll see this one of two ways:

Elbow way behind the back = a row that is whack!
  1. The elbow goes WAY behind the torso.
  2. The arm only moves

When you do this, you limit upper back activity because the scapula doesn’t glide back. Instead, it either tips forward or doesn’t move at all. Depriving those poor upper back muscles from the stimulation they need. No. DESERVE!

Instead, the load shifts to the posterior deltoid. If the humerus glides forward enough, it may put undue load on the anterior shoulder.

Poor torso position

It’s common to either arch or round your back during a row, but do we want this? 🤔

Uh, no.

Altered torso position also limits scapular gliding. When you arch or round your back, you cannot retract as far. Your erector spinae do the brunt of the work, and your upper back stays sorry.

How to Improve Your Rowing Technique 🛠️

Now that you know the mistakes, let’s work on the cure.

There are 3 focus points that are key for leveling up your rows:

  1. Head position
  2. Ribcage
  3. Shoulders

Here are the keys to each:

Head position: Make sure your eyes are looking about a foot ahead or even straight down.

Ribcage: Start with an exhale and reach at the bottom of the row. The reach should happen at the support AND rowing arm. This action better positions the ribcage for expansion.

Shoulders: As you row, think 1) the arm in line with the side and 2) the top of the shoulder moving back. It’s easier to cue shoulder blade movement this way than focusing on the scapula itself.

If you can nail these points, I guarantee you’ll cook your upper back and get better shoulder mobility.

Sum up

Rowing is awesome for building a strong upper back and improving mobility. But your technique must be on point to maximize the benefits.

By focusing on scapular movement, you can take your rowing to the next level.

A quick recap for you:

  • Scapular movement is crucial in rowing.
  • Common mistakes are when the humerus moves only or the torso position is whack.
  • To improve your rowing technique, focus on your head position, ribcage, and shoulders.

Now, get out there, grab some big weights, and ROW! and start rowing!