Do you walk past the rowing machine when you’re at the gym? It really shouldn’t, because it’s a very effective piece of equipment: it builds strength, improves your aerobic capacity, and is a great all-around workout. It’s also easy to use once you learn the right technique. Oh, contrary to what you may have heard, it doesn’t give you an overdeveloped upper body, but a strong body. What can’t be loved?
What are the advantages?
Rowing machine training is very beneficial and can work up to 85% of your muscles, including the legs, back, arms, shoulders and core. At the same time, you can also build cardiovascular fitness, which comes in handy when you stop running due to an overuse injury, for example. When it comes to burning fat, it’s one of the best exercises you can do: Harvard Health found that a 125-pound person can burn up to 210 calories with 30 minutes of moderate rowing, while a 185-pound person can burn 294 calories burned (with vigorous rowing, these numbers increased to 255 and 440 calories, respectively). Also, as a low-impact activity, you’re less likely to get injured even if you’re exercising vigorously.
Another advantage is that you can be as hard or as easy as you want, so when your fitness improves, you can increase your effort, such as aiming for a certain distance in a certain amount of time; seeing the numbers read is a great motivator. † Who doesn’t want to beat the clock? You can modify your classes and challenge yourself in other ways by doing bodyweight exercises, such as squats, in between efforts. Of course, if you want, you can also sit back, turn off the power, and imagine yourself paddling down a lazy river for a long time. Resist the urge to whistle.
Credit: Getty/Thomas Barwick
How did you make a rowing machine?
First, using a rowing machine isn’t primarily an upper-body workout, although it may feel like it, and the word “rowing” implies that your arms are in charge. Instead, your legs should do most of the work, while your glutes, core, and upper body do the rest. (The American Fitness Professionals and Associates organization states that the stroke rate when using a rowing machine is 65-75% leg work and 25-35% upper body work.)
Pulling too fast with your arms instead of pushing away with your thigh muscles is a form mistake that many people make in the beginning. Pelé Zachariah, head of performance at Rowbots (find Rowbots on social media), says other common technical mistakes include: landing too far (first stage of hitting; see below), leaning back too far, and Ignore the slow slide in recovery. Here he describes good rowing machine technique:
Stage 1: Recording
Sit up straight, engage your core, pull your shoulders back, and relax. Keep your arms extended and your hips slightly behind your shoulders.
Stage Two: Driving
This phase uses the full force of your legs to push the pedals explosively. Keep your arms straight for as long as possible, pulling the lever toward your chest only when your legs are fully extended and your hips are slightly articulated (about 11 o’clock from your torso).
Stage Three: End
Make sure to maintain the integrity of the pose; at this point, it should only lean slightly back. Quickly release your hands as soon as they touch your chest, bending your knees only as your hands pass over your knees on the way back.
Stage 4: Recovery
After taking your hands off your knees, slowly begin to slide back into the gripping position and start the cycle again.
practice rowing machine
Next time you’re at the gym, try one of the Rowbot-designed workouts. There is something for all abilities and fitness levels.
1. Time-limited sports
During this 20-minute blast, you need to jump off and get back on the paddle.
beginner: 200m row, 8 push-ups, 16 squats (bodyweight squats)
Middle: 350m row, 12 push-ups, 24 squats
advanced: 500m row, 16 push-ups, 32 squats
Find your flow and move at a steady pace from start to finish. Try to keep the separation time the same for each rowing effort. Do as many rounds as you can before you run out of breath, “No more!”. No one listened anyway.
2. Resume training
Row at a comfortable pace for 20 to 60 minutes (depending on your fitness level). Listen to a podcast or some music (watch out for bpm!) to complement the easy paddling action. Get into the rhythm and lose yourself.
3. Interval training
60 second rest
Do 8-12 rounds
This one tests your physical and mental strength, so when you’ve had enough of it screaming, get ready to feel the burn and ignore your brain. Set a target time for your first 500 people and aim to hit that time with every effort going forward. Do 8 rounds if you are a beginner, 10 if you are an intermediate, and all 12 if you are an advanced.
4. Low-Intensity Exercise
One of the great things about rowing is that you can adjust just about any workout based on your fitness level or experience. This class is great for those who are new to the gym or haven’t worked out in a while.
1st minute: 40 sec line / 20 sec pause
2nd minute: 40 sec toggle / 20 sec rest
3rd minute: 40 sec row/20 sec rest
4th minute: rest then repeat
The goal is six rounds, but feel free to expand or shrink depending on your fitness and skill level.
Looking for more exercise inspiration? Here are the best treadmill workouts for runners of all levels and the best Stairmaster workout to try in the gym.
How to use a rowing machine, the benefits, and the workouts to try
Do you walk right past the rowing machine when you’re in the gym? You really shouldn’t, because it’s a remarkably effective piece of equipment — it builds strength, improves your aerobic fitness, and is a great all-over workout. It’s also easy to use, once you have learned the right technique. Oh, and contrary to what you may have heard, it does not give you an overdeveloped upper body — just a strong one. What’s not to love?
What are the benefits?
A rowing machine session delivers a lot, working up to 85% of your muscles, including your legs, back, arms, shoulders, and core. At the same time, it also develops the kind of cardio fitness that will stand to you if you are taking a break from, say, running because of an overuse injury. And when it comes to burning fat, it’s one of the best workouts you can do: Harvard Health found that a 125-pound person can burn up to 210 calories with 30 minutes of moderate rowing and a 185-pound person can burn 294 calories (with vigorous rowing, those numbers rise to 255 calories and 440 calories, respectively). Furthermore, because it’s a low-impact activity, you are very unlikely to sustain an injury even if you do an intense workout.
Another benefit is that you can go as hard or as easy as you like, so as your fitness improves you can up your effort level by, for example, aiming for a specific distance in a set time – watching that digital readout is quite an incentive. Who doesn’t want to beat the clock? And you can adapt a session and challenge yourself in other ways by doing body-weight exercises, such as squats, between efforts. Of course, you can also just sit in, switch off and imagine yourself rowing for a long time along a lazy river, if the mood takes you. Resist the urge to whistle.
(Image credit: Getty/Thomas Barwick)
How to a rowing machine
First off, using a rowing machine is not primarily an upper-body exercise, though it may look like one, and the word ‘rowing’ suggests your arms are in charge. Instead, your legs should be doing most of the work, with your glutes, core, and upper body doing the rest. (The organization American Fitness Professionals and Associates says the rowing stroke when using a rowing machine is 65-75% leg work and 25-35% upper bodywork.)
Pulling too early with your arms rather than using your big leg muscles to push is a form error many people make early on. Pelé Zachariah, head of performance at Rowbots (find Rowbots on social here), says other common mistakes in technique include overreaching at the catch (the first phase of the stroke; see below), leaning too far away at the back of the stroke, and neglecting the slow slide for recovery. Here, he outlines good rowing machine technique:
Phase 1: The Catch
Sit tall, engaging your core, with your shoulders back and relaxed. Keep your arms long and your hips slightly behind your shoulders.
Phase 2: The Drive
This phase utilizes the full force of your legs to explosively push away through the footplates. Keep your arms straight for as long as possible, only pulling the handle toward your chest once your legs are fully extended and your hips are slightly hinged (to roughly an 11 o’clock position from your upper body).
Phase 3: The Finish
Be sure to maintain postural integrity — you should have only a slight backward lean at this point. Release your hands quickly once they have touched your chest and only bend at the knees when your hands have passed the knee joint on the return.
Phase 4: The Recovery
Once your hands have cleared your knees, initiate a slow slide to return to the catch position, at which point the cycle begins again.
Next time you’re in the gym, try one of these Rowbots-designed workouts. There’s something for all abilities and levels of fitness.
1. Time-constrained workout
You will need to jump off and back onto the rower for this 20-minute blast.
Beginner: 200m row, 8 push-ups, 16 air squats (body-weight squats)
Intermediate: 350m row, 12 push-ups, 24 air squats
Advanced: 500m row, 16 push-ups, 32 air squats
Find your flow and move at a consistent pace from start to finish. Aim to hold similar split times on each rowing effort. Do as many rounds as possible before you reach the point where you’re gasping ‘No more!’. No one is listening, anyway.
2. Recovery workout
Row from 20-60 minutes (depending on your fitness level) at a pace that feels comfortable. Listen to a podcast or some music (easy on those bpms!) to complement the leisurely rowing action. Get into a groove and lose yourself.
3. Interval workout
60 seconds’ rest
Do 8-12 rounds
This one will test your physical and mental strength, so get ready to feel the burn and ignore your brain when it screams that you’ve had enough. Set a target time for your first 500m and try to hit that time with each subsequent effort. Do eight rounds if you’re a beginner, 10 if you are intermediate and all 12 if you are advanced.
4. Low-intensity workout
One of the greatest things about the rower is that you can adapt almost any workout to suit your level of fitness or experience. This session is ideal for someone who is new to the gym or has not trained for a while.
Minute 1: 40-second row / 20 seconds’ rest
Minute 2: 40-second elbow plank / 20 seconds’ rest
Minute 3: 40-second row / 20 seconds’ rest
Minute 4: Rest and then repeat
Aim for six rounds, but feel free to scale this up or down depending on your fitness level and ability.
Looking for more workout inspiration? Here are the best treadmill workouts for all levels of runner, and the best Stairmaster workouts to try in the gym.
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- Synthetic: Tài Chính Kinh Doanh
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