Heading to the gym for a bit of cardio usually means jumping on the treadmill, spending a bit of time on the bike or setting 20 minutes on the Cross-trainer timer – but what about the dusty, forgotten machine that sits hiding in the corner?

The rowing machine! The rowing machine is probably the least used piece of cardio equipment at the gym. All the other pieces of equipment have there benefits and are useful in developing cardiovascular fitness if used appropriately.

Let’s start a gym revelation – here are some brilliant reasons to choose the rowing machine next time you visit the gym for some cardio…

1. Full body workout:

One machine that works the whole body! You could argue that the arms may get a very small workout when running or on the cross-trainer but in comparison to the gross upper-body musculature that is trained during rowing, this is negligible.

When you combine the amount of effort required from upper body pulling muscles combined with the initial explosive pushing movement, which involves all the muscles of the lower body, you almost have a cast-iron blueprint to success.

Correct technique:

A rowing machine may look like the easiest piece of equipment – sit down and pull the bar, right?

Wrong – this cardiovascular exercise uses an incredibly amount of muscles to perform the backward, forward movement, therefore it is incredible important to do so with correct form – not only to achieve maximal results but to prevent serious injury.

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Follow these simple but effective tips to correct your technique:

  • Sit down on the seat and find a comfortable position that allows your body to align with the centre of the machine – keep your bottom securely sat whilst leaning your hamstrings slightly off the edge of the seat.
  • Before beginning any movement, adjust the foot straps and foot-holder in front of you until your feet are comfortable and secure.
  • Use an over-hand grip when grabbing on to the handle with both hands – they should be shoulder width apart.
  • Perfect your posture: You should be sitting tall with your stomach held in – allow your shoulders to be loose for flexibility.
  • When pulling back, make sure you start by leaning forward with legs bent and put arms straight out in front of you.
  • Lean back slightly, straighten your legs and gently pull your elbows close to your body – try not to dig them in – (remember to stay fairly loose for maximum flexibility.)

2. Effective calorie burner:

Vigorous rowing is one of the highest caloric burners – not to mention the muscles are used to their full range of motion at a joint, vital for keeping the body in balance. Training on a rowing-machine can burn up to an incredible 600 calories per hour!

Although the rowing-machine may be a slightly more difficult cardiovascular exercise in comparison to the treadmill, cross-trainer or bike – the end results are totally worth it and you’ll thank yourself after your cheat meal.

HIIT on the rowing machine can give you more of a breather even though it burns MORE calories… Try 30 on 30 off – 30 seconds fast rowing then 30 seconds steady state. Try this for 5 minutes to start with – 10 minutes if you’re feeling good! You’re body won’t expect it, therefore forcing it to work harder!

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3. Effective aerobic exercise:

Now you are aware that training on the rowing machine uses a variety of the major muscle groups, it is easier to explain why rowing is such a great form of aerobic exercise.

Using a variety of muscle groups in comparison to cardio workouts that target specific muscles results in an increase of heart rate, therefore increasing the amount of oxygen flowing through your body.

4. Prevents upper body imbalances:

In modern day life we tend to put an over-emphasis on pushing movements, particularly a lot of people who go to the gym to lift weights. Vast amounts of men go to the gym and simply train their upper body muscles which consists of getting big arms and a big chest, with no understanding of the muscular imbalances this can cause.

Rounded postures place the shoulder joint in an unbalanced position away from the ideal centred position. This unbalanced position leads to increased compression and lack of range of movement at the shoulder likely to cause injury.

Thus, by adding rowing with proper form into your workout not only does it allow for a good cardiovascular workout but it helps to pull the shoulder back in to its correct position by contracting the muscles of the back.

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Suggested Workouts:

For Fat Loss & Anaerobic Improvement:

  • Warm Up = Steady 500m.
  • 500m Sprints with 1 min Interval.
  • Repeat between 5-10 times depending on fitness.
  • Record time and try to improve each workout.

For Cardiovascular Endurance:

  • Longer distance for 20-40 minutes.
  • Working aerobically just below lactate threshold for best results.
  • As with anything to achieve results you need to be willing to work hard!