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National Academy of Sports Medicine answeredIndoor rowing machines are a great way to build cardiovascular and total-body strength while burning a lot of calories. However, it can also put a lot of stress on the lower back if your form is not correct. One of the first things you must do when using a rowing machine is to adjust the foot straps. Make sure that your heel is resting comfortably against the base of the foot pedal and that the strap has been secured. For a beginner, the resistance on your rower should be set at a low level. Setting too high of a resistance will cause your upper-body muscles to fatigue quickly. A proper rowing grip is one that is firm, but relaxed. A grip that is too tight will cause your forearms and hands to fatigue. Your grip can be either overhand or underhand, and alternating between the two during a long workout will decrease arm fatigue. To avoid straining your back, use primarily your leg and hip muscles. Don't over arch your back as you finish each stroke. Sit up straight and bend forward at the hips.