Is Using the Rowing Machine a Good Cardio Workout?

Updated on August 8, 2017

Rowing Machine: The Most Underrated Machine in the Gym

Are all the treadmills or stationary bikes in the gym being used? Try the rowing machine workout. You never find a waiting list for the rowing machine. They are always free.

A rowing machine workout burns 800 calories an hour. It offers the most total body training of any cardio workout. Working out on the machine requires 25% effort from your upper body and 75% effort from your lower body. It works your arms, back, abs and legs. It's the like ultimate gym multi-tasker, combining every one of your workouts into a single machine. Have you ever wondered why rowing athletes look so fit? How exactly can a rowing machine workout shape your body?

A rowing machine
A rowing machine | Source

The Benefits of a Rowing Machine Workout

Here are a few benefits you will get from doing a rowing machine workout:

  1. Burning Calories
    The rowing machine is a great way to burn calories. You burn 800 calories an hour by this workout. That’s absolutely more than 5000 calories a week. This will surely help you control your body fat.
    Body fat < 10% + abs exercise = washboard abs!!
  2. Strength Training
    Unlike other cardio workouts which focus more on the muscles of your front body, rowing machine workout makes you use your back and all of your limbs. You work your arms by pulling the handle with your legs pushing the footrest. At the same time, you keep your back firm and core tight. You use more muscles with this cardio workout.
  3. Cardio Training
    A rowing machine workout is a great cardio workout. When you run, your heart only pumps blood to your legs because you use only your legs. On the other hand, when rowing, you use several large muscles; your heart pumps blood to all those muscles and adapts to be fitter.

    Apart from all the benefits for your muscles, the rowing machine workout is still cardio training. It can burn so many calories that you had better not do this too much if you’re bulking up. If you want to incorporate the rowing machine workout into your workout while bulking, you had better use it on a shoulder/back/leg day after your workout to fully fatigue your muscles.
  4. Get toned
    This workout primarily makes use of your legs and back. It also works your arms and shoulders. For your legs, it will be like doing repetitious light leg presses. The same thing happens to other muscles, making you leaner. Yet it is still primarily a cardio workout. You should rely on weight training, not rowing, to build muscles.
  5. Easy on the joints
    For those of you who have joint problems, the rowing machine will definitely suit you. It is a zero impact cardio workout. This workout is suitable for people of all ages.

Rowing is a completely impact free cardio workout.
Rowing is a completely impact free cardio workout. | Source

How To Do a Rowing Machine Workout

To achieve the maximum result of a rowing machine workout you need to do it right. There are four kinds of movement in a rowing machine workout:

  1. The catch
  2. The drive
  3. The finish
  4. The recovery

1. The catch:

  • Place your feet on the footrests and strap them in snugly.
  • Grab the handles with an overhand grip. Slide forward a little so that you sit with your shins vertical and arms straight (please be relaxed). Lean forward a little, make sure you sit comfortably. You are slightly crouched with your knees bent and your abdominal muscles engaged. This is the catch position.

2. The drive:

  • Move backward by extending your legs. Keep your arms straight.
  • Your legs must be one step ahead of your arms. You should move smoothly, not jerkily. Avoid bending your back backward. Turn down the resistance level if you need to.
  • Don’t drop your chin to your chest. Keep your chin up so that you can breathe easily.

The rower on the left is at the drive, the one on the right is at the recovery.
The rower on the left is at the drive, the one on the right is at the recovery. | Source

3. The finish:

  • After completing the drive, pull the handle into your upper stomach. Use your arms and abdominals to pull the handle.
  • At the end of this move your legs are fully extended but not locked and your elbows should be bent at 45 degrees beside your body.

4. The recovery:

  • Straighten your elbows towards the flywheel as you slide forward. Your knees should be bent gradually as you return to the catch position.
  • This is the end of one repetition.

The finish.
The finish. | Source

Tips on Using the Rowing Machine

  • It's fine if you have a little bit of soreness in your lower back. If it’s pain, though, you might be jerking your back. Doing this exercise should be much harder on your legs than on your back. Don’t strain your back; your arms and legs should do most of the work. The key is to push with your legs first and allow your body to follow after that.
  • Exhale when pulling the handle (during the drive and finish), inhale when returning it to initial position (during the recovery).
  • Do not row on the highest resistance. Go down to lower resistance and get a really good stroke instead of using only your arms with higher resistance. If you are a rower, put the resistance closer to that of the water.
  • Try this rowing machine workout plan: Pull a 2 minutes – 500 meters split and burn 1000 calories in an hour. Look up other rowing workouts online or ask a trainer at the gym. There are a lot of different workouts and goals you can achieve.

Do You Use the Rowing Machine at the Gym?

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© 2010 julianardian

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