Most rowing machines in gyms I've come across use simple straps to secure your feet, like those shown below:

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The problem I've always found is that after a few strokes the straps loosen, which I feel causes me to lose power on the recovery of the stroke as part of the power is lost to more loosening and leads to a slight "jump" when reaching the slack.

I guess the question is two-fold:

  1. Is a little looseness enough to worry about?
  2. If so how can I better tighten the foot straps so they stay tight for the full session?

Rowers that are used in gym and club settings typically suffer from two problems. Insufficient maintenance by the club and incorrect form by those using the equipment. The average gym member does not know how to use a rower correctly. Their poor technique typically results in the foot straps loosening because of the urge to “lift” the toes on the finish of the stroke. This places undue stress on the tightening straps. Correct form is achieved by the foot remaining firmly planted throughout the stroke. Additionally, improper adjustment of the foot position (ie. the foot settings numbers) will affect the entire stroke further impacting the stress on the foot straps.

“Is a little looseness enough to worry about?

The ideal situation is to have your feet in constant contact with the foot plates. A minor looseness of the strap, assuming correct rowing form, should not be of concern. In fact, a good technique for improving foot position is “feet out” rowing. If you’re losing power, I’d suggest you take a look at your form. Posting a quick video to this site, or, to the Concept2 forums should provide feedback.

If so how can I better tighten the foot straps so they stay tight for the full session?

I have a Concept2 rower at home. I don’t have a problem with the foot straps. However, when I use the rower at my club, the straps are problematic for the reasons I’ve indicated above. I typically resolve that by making sure my rowing form is correct, or, if I plan on rowing a long piece (eg. 45 minutes), I’ll double tie the straps by wrapping the ends under the strap and pulling them through to create a knot.

Lastly, you should not be losing power on the recovery of the stroke. Constant power should be applied throughout the drive portion of the stroke. The recovery is often referred to as the beginning of the next stroke, so, the application of power should not be of concern.

I’ve got over 3.5 million meters logged on the rower and currently row on water for a club. Please post if you have any further questions.


I have kept an old pair of trainers specially for my machine and I've put velcro on the plastics and the back of my trainer now I don't have to have the straps as tight and no movement, works great for me.

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