Amongst my training buddies, I’m famous for hating the rowing machine at the gym. While I can theoretically appreciate that rowing is an excellent full-body workout, in practice, I’d rather stick my finger in my eye and twizzle it around than hit the rowing machine for my cardio fix.

There is, however, one exercise that I LOVE to do on a rowing machine. When I do it, I definitely get some strange looks, but for me, the benefits far outweigh the risk of becoming the weirdo at the gym. That exercise is the Rowing Machine Plank to Pike.

What is the Rowing Machine Plank to Pike?

The Rowing Machine Plank to Pike is an exercise in which, facing away from the rowing machine, you place your hands on the floor at the back of the machine, toes on the seat, and slide slowly and with control from a plank position to a pike position and back again. See the video below for an example.

Why would you do a Rowing Machine Plank to Pike?

A Rowing Machine Plank to Pike is an excellent exercise for people with an interest in callisthenics, hand-balancing, pole dancing and aerial sports. It’s a great strengthening exercise for your shoulders, particularly your rotator cuffs, your abs/core and your hip flexors. It can help you to improve your handstand stability, your press to handstand, and your active pike compression.

Training cues:

There’s a lot to think about when you’re doing a Rowing Machine Plank to Pike.

When you’re in the plank position, you need to make sure that:

  • your core is engaged,
  • your pelvis is tilted slightly under, so your back is quite flat,
  • you’re pushing hard into the floor, so your shoulders are engaged and your shoulder blades are protracted.

When you’re in the pike position, you need to make sure that:

  • you’re pushing hard into the floor, so your shoulders are fully engaged. At the top of the movement, think about bringing your shoulders to your ears
  • your sit-bones are lifting towards the ceiling
  • your core is engaged
  • your hands are spread wide, with your weight distributed between your palms and the tips of all your fingers.

Pre-requisite moves:

Before you attempt the Rowing Machine Plank to Pike, it’s important that you have some pre-requisite strength.

Please make sure you are comfortable with the following before attempting this exercise:

  • A 30-second high plank
  • A 10-second wall-supported handstand

Let me know if you plan to incorporate the Rowing Machine Plank to Pike into your training – and if you share your training on social media, please tag me @trainforpole and use the hashtag #trainforpole so I can see your post.