Row for Fitness

Have you heard people say that the rowing machine is the best cardio workout you can do? If you are one of the many who have shied away from the rowing machines at the gym, or avoided looking at one at the local fitness store, then this post is for you. 

Whether you prefer the familiarity of the treadmill or elliptical, or like to climb the hill on the bikes, you may be surprised by a rower. Whatever the reason is that you walk the long way around the rowers, my goal here is to change that. If you think the ability to burn twice as many calories in half the time as a treadmill is too good to be true, think again. Unlike a treadmill or cycle, rowers utilize nearly all major muscles in your body during one simple movement. This multi-muscle group engagement allows for maximum calorie burn and ultimate fitness potential.

Total Body

While on the treadmill or cycle (during your typical routine, I'm not talking about all the new fancy cross training options) you are mainly targeting the group of muscles in your lower extremities - glutes, quads, hamstrings, calf.  While on the rower, you are able to target your full body, from arms to core to back and legs! You are also not only getting aerobic (cardio) exercise, building strength in your heart and lungs, but you are also getting anaerobic or strength exercise too! Now this part is partially up to you, just like any workout routine. You can go for a leisurely row and at that point you may not be getting much of anything. However, if you set your resistance and you put effort behind your movements, you are easily burning 500 calories in 30 minutes, breathing heavy, and building muscle.

High Calorie Burn with Low Impact

As mentioned above, on a rower you are truly able to burn more calories in the same or less time as you would on other traditional cardio machines. This makes rowers ideal for health as well as weight loss goals. You are in control of the exact amount of calories you burn by the time and effort you put into your workout. But, I can guarantee that if you get on that rower and row at any level for 10-15 minutes, you will be sweating. Not to mention, all these benefits come at little cost to your joints. Rowing machines are virtually zero impact. Unlike other traditional cardio machines, there is no harsh pounding of body weight on knees and hips that leave your joints aching. After a rowing machine workout, the only thing that will be sore will be your muscles.

Getting Started

Now, hopefully I have convinced you that the rowing machine is worth giving a try. However, don't just take my word for it. Try rowing for yourself. It is important to know proper rowing form before getting on a rower to reduce risk of injury and to get the ultimate benefit from it. See below for some guidelines:

  • First, take a seat, strap your feet in so that the strap is around the top arch of your foot. Reach forward to grab the handle.
  • With the handle in both hands, tightly wrap your fingers around either end of the handle bar. Palms facing down and wrists flat.
  • Sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, knees bent over ankles and arms extended. Then row -
    • Push off the pedals using quads first, extending through your legs, and finally off your toes so that heals come slightly up off the pedals at the end.
    • At the same time legs are extending, arms are coming back toward chest until your hands reach your rib cage area. Keep wrists straight and elbows up.
    • At the end of the row lean back slightly engaging your core. Then start it all over again!

Sample HIIT Program

OK, so you know how good a rowing machine is for your health and fitness, and you know how to use it. Now let me give you a quick starter workout for next time you see  a rower so you are ready to conquer it. Keep in mind, the harder and faster you pull, the more you are going to get out of the exercise. This is whether the rower is only air resistance or combines air with Eddy Current magnetic resistance.

  1. If rower has levels start on level 1 and do a 3 minute warm up.
  2. At minute 3:30 ramp up your intensity. Up to level 3-4 with a 30 second 'sprint' going at 80% effort, keeping form.
  3. Minute 4 slow it back down, keep at the level but row steady for one minute.
  4.  5 start to speed back up, giving 80% and going up to level 4-5.
  5.  5:30 slow back down to a steady row for 1 minute.
  6. 6:30 speed back up to 80-90% effort at level 6-7 or where you are feeling a difficult resistance.
  7. 7 back to a steady row staying at that difficult resistance for 1 minute.
  8. 8 come back down a few levels but speed back up. Give 90-100% effort into that row while staying in safe form.
  9. 8:30 slow back down to a steady row at same resistance for 1 minute.
  10. 9:30 to 10 come back to lower level and cool down.

I know you're sweating now (or will be soon)!

Your Rowing Potential

Now that you are ready and full of knowledge and excitement to go try out a rower, go! Go, now, to the gym or nearest fitness store and try out this amazing cardio machine. Trust me, once you've decided that rowing is for you, you will not go back to that old 'other' machine. You may even want to start shopping around so you can hop on it without a drive, wait, or swapping sweat at the gym. When you're ready for that, please consider looking at BODYCRAFT's rower options. From the VR200, our most economical option, to the top-of-the-line VR500, all our rowers are built to last and endure your toughest work outs. Each rower has multiple levels with Eddy Current magnetic resistance to help you reach your full potential. All rowers also easily fold and move for storage. Reach your fitness potential and row today!

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