What are beginning core exercises for rowing?

In order to effectively work the core for rowing, muscle imbalances in the hips should be addressed first. Most adults in America spend the majority of their time in a seated position, and rowing is a seated sport. From years of sitting the hip flexors get shortened and tight, and the opposing gluteal muscles become lengthened and weak. This imbalance may pull your pelvis forward (anterior pelvic tilt), shortening your lower back muscles and inhibiting your core strength. To help correct this imbalance while strengthening the core, here's a beginner's core workout for rowing:

  • Do a 5-10 minute light warm-up (walking or elliptical trainer)
  • Stretch your hip flexors (20-30 second hold each side). Only go to the point of the gentle stretch. You should feel the stretch in the front of your hip on the back leg. Squeeze the butt cheek on the same side to increase the stretch.
[media id="DEV__4c84d73d4d4560_52445351" title="Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch"] 
  • Do 3 sets (8-20 reps) of a floor bridge. To perform the floor bridge, lie on your back with feet hips width apart. Squeeze your butt as you raise your hips toward the ceiling, driving through your heels until your hips are flat with your thighs. Then lower your hips back to the floor. This should be done at a slow and controlled pace.
[media id="DEV__4c7e5b83af1076_76124506" title="Floor Bridge"]
  • Do 3 sets of a plank (10-60 second hold). Lie face down with your elbows directly under your shoulders, then establish the plank position on your forearms and toes. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and squeeze your butt to fully activate the core. Remember to breathe. Start with 10-second holds, and work up to a full minute. If you experience any lower back pain while planking, decrease your hold time or drop to your knees.
Working the core for rowing is not just about making the abdominals stronger. It's also about creating an environment where the core is working effectively, supporting the spine, and preventing injuries. 


Examples of basic core exercises for rowing include the two-leg floor bridge and prone-iso abs, or plank. The core is the center of the body and where all human movement begins. It is important to have a strong core because it provides stability and force control necessary during rowing. The basic core exercises involve little movement of the spine and hips. They are designed to work on building core muscle endurance and to teach you how to activate the core muscles. To activate the core muscles, use the drawing-in movement and bracing. Drawing-in is bringing the belly button in toward the spine or sucking in the stomach. Bracing is contracting the abs, lower back, and butt muscles at the same time. Both of these movements are important for core stabilization and the basic core exercises will prepare you for more advanced core exercises. To perform the two-leg bridge, lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart. Start the movement by pushing through the heels and driving the hips up in the air; hold at the top and then slowly return to the ground. To perform the prone-iso abs, or plank, lie on your stomach with the elbows under the shoulders and the forearms on the ground. Lift your body up until you are in a flat back position, hold and then return to the ground. Perform 1-2 sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise, holding at the top position for 2 seconds and using a slow tempo. To progress the exercises and make them harder, you can perform single-leg versions or hold for longer time at top.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.