Aside from lifting weights and drinking protein shakes, anyone who steps foot in a gym, or finds themselves grasping a set of dumbbells on a regular basis, can also benefit from completing some cardio training. Not only can it help in your battle to shed body fat, but cardio training also helps to strengthen your heart and improve the flow of blood around your body.
One of the easiest forms of cardio exercise to fall into is, of course, running, but this only has a finite number of benefits. For a more complete full body workout and to help build muscle in the process, you simply have to turn to a rowing machine workout.
The rowing machine is often a piece of equipment feared by many gym-goers, as they require you to expend a tremendous amount of energy. But let it be known, once you’ve finished a rowing workout, you’ll feel amazing.
You may be thinking, “surely there is only one rowing workout?”, it’s just a rowing machine after all. But you’d be wrong. There are, in fact, various drills and workouts you can complete on a rowing machine that will see you building muscle and shedding body fat in no time.
What Are The Benefits Of Rowing Workouts?
According to Healthline, rowing machines engage around 86 percent of the muscles in your body, which is roughly split 70/30 between lower body and upper body, respectively. It’s also an exercise that is deemed safe for anybody to try, including blind people and those with low vision. Because using a rowing machine only increases in difficulty relative to the amount of effort you put in, it can be made as easy or as hard as you like.
Some people love rowing for its meditative benefits too, which come as a result of the four-step movement process required to complete an effective row, and naturally, using a rowing machine to workout has numerous benefits for your heart and overall cardio fitness.
Where To Buy A Rowing Machine?
If you’re not a member of a gym, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the myriad benefits rowing machine workouts provide. A plethora of gym equipment companies have made rowing machines available for you to buy and install in your own home, and best of all, you don’t really need that much space.
There are different options to consider when it comes to rowers, with the two main choices being either air-powered or water-powered. Air-powered rowers require you to spin a fan which creates air-resistance. These machines can also have the level of resistance/difficulty adjusted easily with a damper on the side, and they can display highly accurate data based on your stroke speed, distance covered, etc.
Water-powered rowing machines use, you guessed it, water to create resistance. They can be quieter than air-powered rowing machines, and the splash of water can even be considered therapeutic. Some rowing fanatics feel the data displayed isn’t as accurate or as in-depth as air-powered machines, but for some recreational rowing you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Ultimately, both make great indoor rowers, and neither takes up too much space.
Hydrow Rowing Machine
The Hydrow indoor rower is essentially a Peloton, but for rowing. It actually works using electromagnetism, as opposed to air or water, but combined with the live on-screen workouts which place you inside a conventional racing rowing boat, you’ll feel like you’re on water.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Sports and fitness equipment retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods stocks a range of rowing machines to suit every budget and rowing style. Whether you’re looking for your very first indoor rower and don’t want to break the bank, or you want a top-of-the-range piece of equipment that uses magnetism and displays every possible data metric you can think of, Dick’s is the store to head to.
Academy Sports & Outdoor is another retailer stocking a wide range of rowing machines. The majority of their range comes in well under $1,000, making it a perfect place to pick up your very first rower. It’s mainly air-powered rowing machines in stock, but you’ll also find a few magnetised indoor rowers too.
Best Rowing Machine Workouts
So, you’ve snapped up your perfect indoor rower and you’re ready to put your body through some high intensity workouts and burn a serious number of calories. What are some of the best workouts you can perform on your rower? Allow us to explain all.
How To Use A Rowing Machine
Before you even think about performing rowing machine workouts, you need to understand how to perform an effective row first.
Place your feet in the stirrups and tighten the straps so your feet are firmly locked in place. Bring the seat forward on the rail, and grab the rowing handle. This is where you need to get into what is known as ‘the catch’ position.
Extend your arms, bend your upper body forwards at the hips and keep your shoulders locked down. You may find your heels lift off the foot plates a little, and this is perfectly ok.
Next comes ‘the drive’, the main portion of the rowing movement. Push your feet into their mountings, and drive back with your legs, keeping your arms straight. Once your legs become close to straight, pivot your upper body at the hip so that you’re now leaning backwards. Pull your arms – and the rowing handle – to just below your ribs. You have just completed one stroke.
To ‘recover’ you pretty much to reverse the movement you just performed. Bring your body back over your hips so that you’re leaning forward with your arms extended. Once your hands have gone beyond your knees, you can bend them and slide forward on the seat, so that you’re back in a tucked position, before driving back out with your legs again.
This is what making rowing such an effective full body workout, because it targets your legs, core and arms all in one swift movement.
You don’t need – or want – to expend too much energy or effort when completing the arm pull until you’re comfortable with the stroke movement. You should wait until you’re at a level where everything happens smoothly and without too much thinking.
Rowing Machine ‘Sprint’ Workout
Similar to what you may do on a treadmill, you can perform the rowing equivalent of sprints on a rowing machine. Set yourself a time goal: 20 minutes is a great place to start. Spend around five minutes warming up on your rowing machine – rowing at around 50 per cent effort – before performing some hard rowing for 40-seconds, and easing up on the effort for 20-seconds. Repeat this sequence for 10 minutes, and then give yourself another five minutes to cool down.
This is essentially a HIIT workout on your indoor rower, and you should find your heart rate increases considerably.
Rowing Machine Distance Workout
Your rowing machine should have a function where you can set a distance goal to bring down to zero, with the idea being you complete it in a faster time each time you complete it. A good distance to try this with is around 2,000 metres. It’s not too far, but should provide enough of a challenge to really make you stay conscious of your pace – and to make you sweat, of course.
Rowing Machine Partner Ladder Workout
Live or train with a friend who loves rowing just as much as you? Then you need to put yourselves through this awesome tag-team rowing machine workout.
The idea of ladder workouts is to perform progressively more, or progressively less distance each round (they can also be applied to workouts with weights, where you increase and then decrease the number of reps you perform).
With one of you starting on the rowing machine and the other resting, row to 500-metres as fast as you can, before jumping off and swapping with your partner. Now, you get to rest while your partner rows as quickly as they can.
Once you’ve both completed 500-metres, bring the distance goal down to 400-metres, then 300, 200, 100, in the same tag-team format. This style of rowing workout brings a slight competitive nature into the mix, as you’ll no doubt want to row your distance faster than your partner, yet you’ll likely find you need a longer rest period to recover from the extra effort you’ve put in.
Rowing Machine Calorie Counter Workout
Similar to the ladder rowing workout above, the calorie counter rowing workout requires you to hit a certain number of calories is a defined period of time. This rowing workout also incorporates the ladder, model, with the number of calories required to be reached increasing with each passing minute.
Start your targets low, such as five or six calories, and aim to reach that target within one minute of rowing. For the next one minute interval, increase the number of calories by one, and so on and so forth, until you’ve completed 10-15 minutes of rowing.
If you’re just starting out with indoor rowing, then aim for 10 minutes to start with. Once your skill level, strength and fitness increases, you can increase the amount of time you row for.