One of the great mysteries of the gym is how on earth the rowing machine, which is quite possibly the most awesome cardio exercise ever, got to be one of the most underrated pieces of equipment at the gym. Here is an ode to the rowing machine: Why rowing is awesome, how-to use a rowing machine, and rowing machine tips.
Why Rowing is Awesome:
- Rowing packs a double-whammy of health benefits. It’s a cardiovascular activity by nature, but also engages almost every major muscle group in your body to be an effective strength-building exercise.
- Rowing works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, back, shoulders, abs, obliques, biceps, and triceps.
- Rowing requires you to move smoothly through a large range of motion, and is super low-impact on your joints.
- Rowing can burn on average about 800 calories an hour! Keep in mind that calories burned are affected by your gender, weight, fitness level, resistance level, pace, etc. But all things considered, if you want to burn a lot of calories, rowing is a great choice.
How To Use the Rowing Machine:
Secure both feet with the straps in the footholds, and grasp the handle with an overhand grip. It is important to be conscious of your back posture throughout your rowing workout. It should be straight, not rounded, especially in the lower back region.
The “catch” is the first fundamental movement of rowing. The catch is when your seat is slid forward, your knees are bent, and your arms are fully extended in front of you. This sets you up for a powerful “drive”, which is the second fundamental movement of rowing.
A strong drive is essential to get a good cardio workout from rowing. From the catch, keep your arms extended as you push back on the pedals and straighten your legs, leaning your torso back slightly at the same time. At the point where your legs are extended and the seat cannot slide back any further, pull your arms into your torso. The end position of the drive is with your legs extended, arms pulled back, and the handle being held slightly below chest-level.
Return to the catch:
From the top of your drive, you have to return to the catch to repeat the full rowing movement. Do this by fully extending your arms back out, leaning forward slightly, then letting your legs bend and bring you forward to the starting position again.
Rowing Machine Cardio & Strength Tips:
- Do you have trouble remembering the order of movements for rowing? Think of it this way:
- The Catch: Extend arms –> Torso forward –> Legs bent
- The Drive: Extend legs –> Torso back –> Arms bent
- There are a few different types of rowing machines, although air-resistant rowing machines are the most common (and the kind most often found in gyms). Other types are:
- Water resistant rowing machines
- Piston resistant rowing machines
- Magnetic resistant piston machines
- Air and magnetic resistant rowing machines
- Practice on a low resistance to start with, making sure to get comfortable with the movements before increasing the resistance.
- Resistance on rowing machines are usually out of ten. A first-timer should practice on a resistance of 2-3, a beginner should row on a resistance of 3-5, and intermediate-advanced rowers should pick an appropriate resistance between 6-10.
- The resistance is toggled differently on each rowing machine. You can check to see if you can adjust the resistance digitally on newer models. However, the resistance is adjusted manually on older rowing machines, and can typically be found as a knob at the base near your feet, or on the side of the fan.