ACFT Alternate Events Row

Row Faster – 14 Rowing Tips


If you want to row faster for the ACFT Alternate events, you need to know these 14 rowing tips.

Tip 1 – Full Stroke


One of the most common rowing mistakes many people make is that they only do half of the pull stroke. They are stopping with the stroke halfway, or in other words, they are only doing half the distance needed for pulling the full stroke

ACFT Alternate Events Row

The first thing you need to do is to extend your arms fully forward to almost touch the rowing machine with the handles. Then, lean all the way back with your body positioned almost parallel to the ground to do the full stroke. This will double your previous stroke, and also, this will cut your stroke reps in half. With this tip, you won’t need to go up and down the slide too much.

Alternate Events Army Row Rowing

Row faster ACFT Alt Event

Now you can fully concentrate on your power and breathing while doing a more powerful stroke. For doing the full stroke, you need to pull up your stroke all the way up to the chest, not only to your belly button like you used to before. The diagram in the video compares your old stroke and the new stroke. You can see that doing the full stroke means fewer reps, more 

meters, less fatigue, and a better ACFT score!

Tip 2 – Proper breathing

Row ACFT Alternate Event Standards

The next thing to focus on during rowing is your breathing. You should breathe out on the way back while you are pulling the stroke and breathe in while you are coming forward. This is crucial; you should be breathing in a while going up the slide slowly and controlled to catch a good breath. This is crucial for you to not run out of breath during the workout.

Alternate Events New PT Test Row Machine

While pulling your stroke, you should breathe out, like you do while doing weightlifting or squatting. So set your focus on going up slowly and powering backward, which is when we use maximum energy, and it’s the most challenging part of the stroke when you are pushing against the fan.

Tip 3 – Fan adjustment

First of all, some of you are wondering what (BEEP) is that thing located on the side of the Rower. That is the fan adjustment controller. You can set your difficulty level of the rowing machine from level 1 to 10. It’s important to understand what each level means.

ACFT Alternate Events Rowing Fan

Setting the rowing machine to level 10 is usually designated for people who are stronger.  On the other hand, setting the rowing machine to level 1 is more designated for the skinnier, cardio-type of athletes. The selector is on the side of the machine, and you can select the suitable level for your workout.

It’s important to mention that if you choose to do your rowing workout at the maximum level, you should know that your focus will be on powered strokes, and you will be coming up the slide much slower. Contrary to that, if you do your workout on the lowest level, your workout will be consisted of doing easier and faster reps down and up the slide

4. Relax Your Hand Grip,  Keep Your Elbows Down & Don’t Tense Your Shoulders Up

If you keep these muscles tense the whole time you row, you are due to tire out fast! Keep them relaxed, and you will save a lot of energy.  

5. Legs are Everything

Your legs are the power. Your legs control the tempo of your strokes. All other body parts must align with what your legs are doing. So make sure we are controlling the legs and everything will go well.

6. Power Back – Slow and Controlled Forward 

This is the sequence of rowing. Repeat in your head. You will get your form down in no time. 

7. This is not an Arm Workout – The Extra F-U

Your arms are not the power in your stroke. Your arms are that “little extra F-U” (my Crew Coach would say) at the end of your stroke. All your power comes from your legs.

8. Stretch More!

As we said in tip number one, Getting a full stroke is the most crucial part of rowing. If you can not get up the slide all the way, you probably need to do some stretching.

9. Pull the Handle to the Upper Chest 

Do not pull the handles to your belly. Pull the handles to your upper chest and lean back for maximum length on your stroke.

10. Keep a Good Posture 

Good posture = Good breathing. If you have a crappy posture, your chest can not expand, and you will not be able to breathe properly.  

11. Drive Through Your Heels 

Push Through Your Heels Like a Deadlift. You don’t squat or deadlift through your toes, do you? Row this way for max power on each stroke. 

12. Don’t Slam the Seat Into Your Heels

Rushing Up the slide will not only mess up your power and breathing BUT also kill your knees. We are already on profile… Let’s not add more injuries to the list.

13. Steady Flow of Motion is Key

Just like we have a nice consistent flow when we run, we need to do the same with rowing. If you look at any cardio event, Rowing, Running, Biking, or Swimming, getting in a nice consistent FLOW state will allow you to get maximum results on test day.

14. Adjust Foot Straps 

 Make sure foot straps are tight BUT DON’T CUT OFF CIRCULATION!   Make sure your foot bends right below the toes (balls of Feet).

For more info on Alternate Events for Rowing, Biking, and Swimming, you can find them here on

Leave a Comment