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Why the rowing machine should be in your next workout

Written By

Colin Gentry

Category

General Fitness, Personal Training

Posted On

12 September 2016

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The rowing machine offers you a calorie-torching total body workout. So why aren’t you using it?

It’s not uncommon to see in a gym – lost amongst row upon row of treadmills – the rowing machine gathering dust. Those who do use it often either look bored or have zoned out at the sacrifice of good technique.

The rowing machine deserves better than this.

The rowing machine burns burns higher calories than most cardio alternatives.

In one hour on the rower, you can burn, on average, 840 calories. In comparison, sixty minutes of swimming, running or cycling burns about 600 calories. If your personal training client wants to lose weight, it’s time you introduced them to the rowing machine.

Rowing goes beyond fat burning though.

The rowing machine delivers a total body workout.

The rowing stroke requires a strong leg push, activating the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Core muscles are recruited to stabilize the midsection and lower back. As the handle is pulled back, the traps, rhomboids and lats come into play. To complete the stroke, biceps, triceps and hip flexors are also activated.

The rowing machine is low impact, reducing the risk of injury.

Whereas pounding the treadmill puts stress on the knees, ankles and hips, an intense cardio workout can be achieved on a rowing machine without impacting the joints. This makes it a great choice for personal training clients who are recovering from injury, or new to fitness.

The rowing machine can aid muscle growth.

If the goal is to gain muscle mass and cardio is a dirty word, then just look at the physiques of Olympic rowers like Donna Etebiet and Peter Lambert. Convinced?

Related content: Fasted cardio: are you giving your clients an empty promise?

Here are three tips to improve your next rowing machine workout:

1.) Adjust your set

The lever on the side of the flywheel is called the damper. The higher the setting, the greater the resistance and harder the workout. Setting the damper to the highest setting of 10 does not mean it is the harder and therefore best workout. A high setting means your workout is about strength, rather than cardiovascular fitness. For an aerobic workout that sees the handle pulled sleekly and with power, the setting should be between 3 and 5.

2. ) Stop stroking your ego

Don’t get obsessed with stroke rate. A high stroke rate doesn’t mean a great workout. Instead, focus on how hard you’re pulling to generate power. A good target stroke for most rowing workouts will be in the range of 24–30 strokes per minute (spm).

3.) Do the splits

Pay attention to the split time. Split times indicate the amount of force you are applying to each stroke. Your split time will vary if you are inconsistent with your force and technique. Your split time will remain unchanged if you are doing things properly.

Next time you’re planning your personal training client’s workout, consider implementing the rower into it. The chances are, whatever their goal, the rowing machine will get them closer to it.

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