Rowing Machine: The Best Total Body Fitness Machine?

When all is said and done, there are not many standard total body fitness machines in most gyms. When heading into the cardio room, most of us are faced with three choices: hit the legs hard for cardio, ride the elliptical, or the less common, often ignored rowing machine. However, if you are interested in slamming your body with a hard-core total body fitness inducing workout, get on the boat!

Rowing improves cardiovascular fitness, while increasing muscular strength in a weight free workout that is low impact. Ergometers, or the indoor rowing machine, is even used by collegiate and olympic rowing teams when they can’t hit the waves.

The rowing machine is one of the best total body toners in your gym. Throw in some intervals, and you are pumping away about 400 calories in 20 minutes, while working the entire leg, glutes, abs, back, shoulders and BURNING the arms. Throw in a few slick moves, and you can squeeze in an oblique workout at the same time.

Work Your Way Up

Off the bat, this machine is TOUGH. So, add 10 minutes of rowing to your usual cardio routine. You can adjust the resistance, so keep it above a level 5, even to start. Plan to sustain a speed of 450 calories per hour or higher for 10 minutes. Add two minutes each week, or keep it at 10 minutes–just raise the intensity and change the speed to pump out a higher calorie burn.

Olympic rowing teams compete in 2000 meter races. You should too! If you plan to add rowing to your already established routine, row for 2000 meters, which will take more than 15 minutes. Try jogging or walking for your warm-up, and cooling down after the race.

Watch Your Stroke

Keep yourself in good form to torch as many calories as possible, and to get the most strength training benefit from your workout. Grab the bar so elbows and hands are in line, not close together. Push back strong with the heels. Once legs are fully extended–without locking knees–pull the bar back to your belly button, squeezing shoulder blades before the release. Keep abs tight as you lean back slightly. Extend arms forward over the knees before fully bending them forward. Hunching over the knees could cause lower back pain, so keep a straight back while you row.

Knock out Some Intervals

Once you sit down, changing the resistance is difficult…on many machines, the dial is too far from where you sit. So row at a slower pace (450 calories per hour) for two minutes, then row row row your boat at a 600+ calorie per minute rate. Shoot for two minutes during each of the higher intervals. If you can’t sustain that, push it for 1 minute 30 seconds before slowing down.

Work some obliques into your intervals by switching your left hand to an underhand grip, rowing back as explained above, but on the extention, twist to the left, bringing the bar down level with your rear end. Complete 10 rows, crunching to the left oblique, then switch hand grips, right hand underhand, left hand over, and crunch to the right for 10. Go back to a standard row and incorporate those 20 oblique rows on each slow interval.

Be careful when getting on…that seat moves quickly! Now bring on the regatta and you’ll be amazed at the results!


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