“What does a rowing machine do for your body?”
The thought that runs through your mind as you walk past one in the gym.
You know all fitness equipment in a health club has a specific purpose for your body.
So you begin to go through each piece.
Free weights and weight machines are for strength training. Treadmills, ellipticals and bikes are for cardiovascular exercise.
But rowing machines? What is their purpose?
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 using them.
Simply put – a rowing machine is your body’s best friend. They give 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 upper and lower body are required to complete a full rowing stroke. This 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’s really 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)
If you want to see a complete breakdown of all the muscles used while performing a full rowing stroke check out my full breakdown.
A Rowing Machine Provides The Ultimate Cardiovascular Exercise
In a nutshell, cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is an activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it at that elevated heart rate for a period of time.
According to Dictionary.com, aerobic exercises are “
Anyone who uses a rowing machine knows that they stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs!
Whether it’s when you push off with your legs or use your upper-body to pull the handle to your midsection, a rower requires use of all muscle groups. Your entire body is working which 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!
Being able to perform full body aerobic and anaerobic exercises is one of the main reasons people love using rowing machines!
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. The energy you helped to preserve can be used later in the workout.
Also, unlike a treadmill where you have to run at a set speed, 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 sitting down.
Rowing is ideal for everyone but this makes a rowing machine even more beneficial. Especially for people with weak joints and people rehabilitating after surgery.
High-impact activities such as playing sports that involve a great deal of running and jumping put a lot of stress on your joints and is weight bearing since you have to support the weight of your body.
These activities are terrible for people with bad knees and ankles.
Even if you currently don’t have any bad joints, you might eventually. Especially if you always participate in high-impact activities. So mix your workout up with a low-impact exercise like rowing!
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. They are suitable for all fitness levels from a complete beginner to a seasoned Olympic athlete. There is also no age limit!
So get out there and start getting a full body workout on a rowing 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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