Rowing machines are more mysterious than the familiar treadmill, spinbike, or elliptical. While you might have used these in the past and found them intuitive, exploring the indoor rower offers a versatile and beginner-friendly option for a full-body workout. Embrace the potential of this new workout, and it may become your favourite.

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What Is Rowing?

Whether you recall your school's rowing team, have spent time near water, or perhaps watched The Notebook a bit too often, you're probably familiar with the visual of rowing. Traditionally done in a boat on the water, rowing involves using your body strength to propel the boat forward or backwards with handheld paddles.

Indoor rowing equipment enables you to replicate the same "stroke" movements as rowing on the water. Throughout various phases of the rowing stroke, you activate and engage your upper body, core, and lower body muscles, including the quads and glutes. This comprehensive engagement is a major advantage of rowing for exercise. With just one machine, you efficiently target all your major muscle groups, enjoying a low-impact workout that maximises effectiveness.

The Many Advantages of Rowing

Wondering what makes rowing a fantastic workout to try? Dive into the benefits you can expect when you incorporate rowing into your exercise routine.

  • Delivers a Full-body Workout

Indoor rowing emerges as a powerhouse workout engaging almost all muscles in your body. Supported by research from the English Institute of Sport, which found that indoor rowing activates 86% of your muscles, it stands out as a full-body exercise. Each rowing stroke involves your core,  arms, and posterior chain, incorporating your glutes, legs, and back. This efficiency makes rowing one of the most effective workouts.

Moreover, rowing is an excellent posture workout if desk slumping is a concern. Leveraging your legs, core, and back provides substantial postural benefits, effectively engaging the posterior chain of your body.

  • Beginner-friendly

Rowing is a low-impact workout, reducing strain on ligaments and joints as both feet stay grounded on the machine. The beauty of a rowing machine lies in its adaptability, allowing you to set your pace while enjoying a comprehensive full-body workout. This flexibility makes it an excellent starting point for newcomers to exercise.

Moreover, if you're recovering from an injury or managing lower-body pain, rowing provides a way to stay active without risking further harm, pending your doctor's approval. With a diminished risk of injury, you can incorporate high-intensity rowing workouts to benefit your joints.

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health and Endurance

Rowing delivers a potent cardio workout, fostering endurance, power, and strength. Employing a rowing machine elevates the heart rate, compelling it to work harder in circulating blood throughout the body. Consistent engagement of the cardiovascular system via indoor rowing machine workouts enhances stamina and endurance over time.

The Best Rowing Machine Workout Tips

Eager to incorporate rowing into your fitness routine? Here are some tips to kickstart your journey:

  • Warm up with rowing

For newcomers to rowing, an effective way to integrate it into your exercise routine is to use it as a warm-up. Consider incorporating a brief rowing session before engaging in strength training or lifting to elevate your heart rate and prepare your body for the remainder of your workout.

  • Incorporate row intervals

Enhance any workout by incorporating rowing intervals. Amp up your strength training routine by interspersing two to three-minute bursts of rowing every 15 minutes throughout a one-hour session, effectively elevating your heart rate and adding intensity to your workout.

  • Row for endurance

Boost your endurance and refine your rowing technique with a focused workout. Work on perfecting your stroke by engaging in 30 minutes of endurance rowing, emphasising longer and slower strokes to enhance your stamina and form.

Rowing Machine Techniques

Once securely strapped in and your monitor activated, it's time to commence rowing. A proper rowing machine stroke progresses through three distinct positions:

  1. Catch

The first position is the "Catch," also known as the starting point. Both legs are bent here, bringing your body closest to the rowing screen. Hold the rowing handle towards the monitor with fully extended arms. Ensure your shins are vertical when viewed from the side, your shoulders are away from your ears, and your fingers are relaxed on the handles. Think of it as preparing for a cannonball, but with a flat back to maintain proper core engagement and avoid lower back injury.

  1. Drive

Transition to the "Drive" phase from the catch position by pushing off your heels. As you lean back, hold the handle on each side, pulling your arms just below your ribcage. Ensure synchronised movement, with your knees, glutes (including the rower seat), hands (along with the handle), and shoulders all moving together consistently for a seamless and fluid motion.

  1. Finish

Transition to the "Finish" position where your legs are fully straightened, and the rowing handles almost touch the sternum just below the chest, as suggested by Rafaee. Maintain contact between your feet and the footboards, with your back slightly leaning away from the rowing screen.

To sum it up,

Whether you incorporate rowing as a warm-up or engage in cardio machine HIIT workouts, maintaining consistency is key. It ensures you reap the heart-pumping benefits and gradually master the nuances of proper rowing form. While the rowing stroke may pose mental challenges, especially for beginners, steadfast consistency paves the way for improvement.

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May 27, 2024

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