All fitness equipment in a health club has a specific purpose for your body: free weights and weight machines are for strength training, treadmills and ellipticals are for cardiovascular exercise, but what does a rowing machine do for your body?
If you don’t know, you’re not alone; apparently a lot of people are unaware of what it does for your body because I almost never see anyone in a health club use it. Simply put – a rowing machine is your body’s best friend because it gives your total body a thorough workout inside and out (literally). Here’s a short list of what a rowing machine does for your body:
A Rowing Machine Provides a Full-Body Workout
One of the rowing machine’s claims to fame is it’s fantastic for working out your whole body. Your lower and upper body are required to complete a rowing stroke which is a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it.
It’s a good thing because you’ll be getting a solid workout that’s guaranteed to get you sweating. It’s a “bad thing” because unlike an elliptical where you can let go of the handles to rest your arms but you’re still able to “keep going”, you can’t “cheat” on a rowing machine since your entire body is required to complete a full stroke. Okay, it’s not really a “bad thing” – it really is a good thing since the rower forces you to give it your all the whole time without taking any shortcuts!
A rowing machine is one of the few machines on the market that truly works out your entire body. The images below highlight the phases of a rowing motion and the muscles engaged during a single rowing stroke:
The “Catch”. Muscles worked: Erector Spinae, Gastrochnemius and Soleus, and Hamstrings.
Start of The “Drive”. Muscles worked: Erector Spinae, Rhomboids, Quadriceps, Gastrochnemius and Soleus, and Hamstrings.
The “Drive”. Muscles worked: Erector Spinae, Rectus Abdominus, Triceps, Rhomboids, Deltoids, Trapezius, Pectoralis Major, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Gastrochnemius and Soleus.
The “Finish”. Muscles worked: Erector Spinae, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Triceps, Biceps, Deltoids, Pectoralis Major, Rectus Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Quadriceps, and Hamstrings.
(Images credit: Concept2 UK, http://concept2.co.uk/rower/muscle_groups)
A Rowing Machine Provides The Ultimate Cardiovascular Exercise
In a nutshell cardiovascular (also known as aerobic) exercise is an activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it at that elevated heart rate for a period of time; something a rowing machine can easily do for you.
Whether it’s when you push off with your legs or using your upper-body to pull the handle to your midsection, a rower requires use of muscle groups from your entire body that will easily get your heart rate up and keep it there. This makes rowing extremely efficient at burning calories and shedding fat since your whole body has to work – the entire time! I wrote about rowing machines and fat burning in the the article Will A Rowing Machine Help Me Lose Weight?
Since rowing is done at a pace where you’re able to perform the exercise for several minutes at a time without stopping, it’s ideal for aerobic exercise and strengthening your muscles. Rowers can also perform HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to incorporate anaerobic exercises into their routine as well! Check out this list of books for rowing machine workouts.
It’s also simple to adjust the intensity of your aerobic workout because most rowers come with adjustable resistance. For example, if you want to have a longer than usual workout but you’re concerned about having enough stamina to finish you can lower the resistance to make each rowing stroke easier to help preserve energy needed later in the workout. Also, unlike a treadmill where you have to set the speed you’re forced to run at, you control the speed of your workouts based on how fast you perform rowing strokes (which can be changed anytime you desire).
Rowing Is Low Impact and Non-Weight Bearing
Another less known claim to fame for a rower is it’s low-impact and non-weight bearing because rowing is performed while you’re sitting down. Rowing is ideal for everyone but this makes rowing on a machine even more beneficial for people with weak joints, and people rehabilitating after surgery.
High-impact activities such as running and playing sports that involve a great deal of running and/ or jumping put a lot of stress on your joints and is weight bearing since you have to support the weight of your body which isn’t good for people with bad knees and ankles.
Even if you currently don’t have any bad joints, you eventually will in due time if you always participate in high-impact activities so it’s good to mix your workout up with low-impact exercise.
The next time you ask yourself what does a rowing machine do for your body, you now know that it:
Provides a solid full-body workout
Is a superior source for aerobic exercise
Is efficient at burning calories and shedding fat
Preserves your joints by providing a high-intensity, low-impact and non-weight bearing workout
You are guaranteed to get a gut-wrenching, heart-pumping workout from a rower that’s suitable for all fitness levels from someone completely new to working out to a seasoned Olympian Athlete so get out there and start rowing on a machine!!!
Now that you know how beneficial a rowing machine is to your body, read rowing machine reviews based on the various categories:
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