You have seen it in the corner of the gym – eyeballing you while you stride away on the elliptical. Its large wheel and long track may be slightly confusing and chances are you’ve wondered if it can possibly be as effective of a workout as your preferred machine by the TV.
The rowing machine.
Rather than staying on your usual piece of equipment here are three reasons why you should get off your chosen machine and give rowing a try.
- Rowing increases cardiovascular fitness. When done at a low resistance, rowing can be done quickly, offering an aerobic workout akin to running or cycling. Aerobic exercise in turn improves lung, heart and circulatory systems. An added bonus is that rowing is low-impact. Because the feet stay in constant contact with the footplates, there is virtually no impact on the ankles, knees, and hips, making rowing ideal for runners nursing an injury or those who have been forced inside for the winter.
- Rowing increases total body strength and endurance. Unlike running on the treadmill, or training on the elliptical, rowing works every muscle group in your body. Rowing is divided into four phases – catch, drive, finish, and recovery. During the catch phase the rower’s knees are bent, hands gripping the handles ahead of the knees. This simulates the paddles reaching behind the boat, just dipping or “catching” the water. It is during this phase that the arms and core are engaged in preparation for the drive phase. The drive phase simulates the movement that propels the boat forward. Rowers press through the bottom of their feet to extend their knees; the core then engages to help lever their bodies backward. The finish phase simulates the paddles exiting the water, releasing the resistance. The fists are at the chest, the torso is leaning slightly backward, and the legs are fully extended, strengthening the muscles of the upper back. Much like swimming, repeating the motion across muscle groups allows the muscle to not only increase in strength but in endurance.
- Rowing gives you a fast calorie burn. According to the popular fitness app, “My Fitness Pal”, a 150 pound person can burn over 300 calories with a moderate intensity, 40-minute row. That is almost as many calories as the same person can burn in a 40 minute run at 5 miles per hour. Such efficient calorie burn is the ideal addition to any weight-loss program and fitness routine.
So, give rowing a try next time you are at the gym. You may just find a new favorite workout that not only burns calories quickly, but gives you a great total-body exercise experience.