The biggest benefits of using the rowing machine, according to experts

Rowing machines have been around for decades, but have seen a resurgence in recent years. Now, the best rowing machines are a hot device in the gym and for home fitness. But the benefits of rowing machines aren’t as well known as the benefits you’d get from running on a treadmill or riding a bike.

Rowing is definitely having a resurgence, says Alex Karwoski, an Olympic rower and Peloton instructor. People are looking for more variety from traditional cardio machines.

Meet the experts: Amanda Diver, DPT, is founder of The Rowing Doc; Albert Matheny, RD, CSCS, is co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab; Alex Karwoski is an Olympic rower and Peloton instructor.

Rowing machines are also more affordable now than in the past, and there are more fitness classes centered around them, says Amanda Diver, DPT, founder of The Rowing Doc. Now, it’s easier for people to have one at home or find classes with the rowing machine as a component of their workout, he says. Also, since COVID, more people were looking for machines and activities to do at home and rowing was something many could find and wanted to try. So what are the benefits of using a rowing machine? Experts break them down.

Benefits of rowing

There are some advantages of rowing to consider. Experts say these are the most important ones to have on your radar.

1. Its low impact.

Low-impact activities are often good for people with back or joint pain, notes Albert Matheny, RD, CSCS, co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab. There is a good portion of the population that has some kind of joint injury, he says. Rowing allows people to get a good workout without adding stress to many joints, Matheny says.

The fact that rowing is a way to get cardio and strength training at home or at the gym is different than walking, and people feel that it won’t make their joints worse, is often a reason why people choose rowing as a sport, says Diver. .

2. It’s a full body workout.

Matheny says rowing is a true total body workout, noting that it targets the upper and lower body. It’s a big selling point, he says. This is a pretty comprehensive workout.

3. It is relatively easy to collect.

Most people can use a rowing machine and just need to learn proper form before they can hit the ground running, Karwoski says. (He says this usually takes a few minutes.) Matheny also finds rowing to be a great on-ramp for people returning to exercise. Accessorize rowing machines to make them efficient and well-suited to streaming workouts.

4. It is meditative.

Rowing requires a lot of repetitive motion from the four phases of the rowing arm: catch, drive, finish and recovery, and Karwoski says the repetition is part of its charm. The level of concentration required to do the same thing over and over again, I find it rather meditative, he says. Karwoski also points out that rowing machines don’t have momentum, you are the momentum.

5. It requires focus.

You can’t do other things when you’re using a rowing machine, says Karwoski. Your feet are tied, your hands must be on the handle, he points out. Distractions are gone because you can’t grab your phone and quickly check it. You are fully inside.

6. It is versatile.

There are many different workouts you can do on the rowing machine, Matheny says. You can hit a number of energy systems, he says. This means you can do a lower intensity, longer duration workout for endurance or a high intensity workout with quick bursts for more power. It’s a good mix, Matheny says.

The diver agrees. Rowing offers a lot of variety, he says. It is also a great sport for people who are fit and out of shape. You can row and push your legs less to make the row a little easier and more like a gentle jog or walk, or you can really explode with your legs and push yourself where you’re running a 200m or running a marathon Ultimately, he says, the workouts can really be tailored to fit where you are in your fitness journey.

7. It is an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Rowing is a cardiovascular exercise that helps strengthen the heart and blood vessels. Not only can you do cardio, but you can do a four-minute Tabata-type workout, says Karwoski. Because it works a lot of your body, you can get a lot of money.

Karwoski just recommends keeping pace and increasing your speed and endurance levels. Start small, he says. But it becomes an activity available throughout life.

8. Generates strength.

If lifting weights isn’t your thing, consider the strength training benefits you get from rowing. When you use proper form, you’ll target your leg muscles as well as your arm muscles to get stronger, Matheny says. If you want more power, just row faster.

9. Improve your posture.

Rowing requires good posture for proper form and to minimize the risk of injury, Karwoski says. It also works your core, which is important for your posture, Diver says.

While rowing primarily uses your leg muscles, your arm, shoulder and core muscles are also used, Diver says. The primary shoulder muscles being worked are located in the back (back) of the shoulder, which are also postural muscles.

Ultimately, he says, this can often translate into a change in attitude in other aspects of our lives.

10. Work several muscle groups at the same time.

Rowing works about 86 percent of our muscles, Diver says. The main muscles used are the larger leg muscles, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, which are used to generate most of the power during the rowing stroke, he says.

But rowing also works your core and back muscles, as well as some muscles in your shoulders and arms. It really requires your legs, trunk, and arms to coordinate with each other in a rhythmic movement, so you’re engaging a lot of your body, Karwoski says.


How many calories does the rowing machine burn?

The exact number of calories you will burn on the rowing machine depends on your weight, as well as your personal metabolism. However, a 155-pound person can burn 369 calories in a vigorous 30-minute rowing session, says Harvard Health.


Does rowing burn belly fat?

Unfortunately, you can’t choose where you lose weight on your body. But you can lose weight all over the place, Matheny says. Weight loss is complicated, but it usually comes down to burning more calories than you take in, Matheny explains. If you can form that calorie deficit by doing things like eating a healthy diet and doing exercises like rowing, you’re likely to burn belly fat over time, he says.


How long should I row?

There are no rules when it comes to rowing, Matheny points out. However, if you want to maximize your rowing time, it’s best to match your intensity to the amount of time you plan to row.

Karwoski says you can get a solid workout in 10 to 15 minutes on the rower if you move at a high intensity. But you can also get good cardio by going at a steady, slower pace for longer periods of time. You can even do a HIIT-style rowing workout, alternating periods of speed and slower rowing. The most important thing is to challenge yourself as you go along. So if you row for 10 minutes one day, try to increase it to 12 or 15 minutes over the next few days.


Tips for proper rowing technique

Again, there are four stages to a stroke: the catch, the drive, the arrival, and the recovery. Peloton recommends this for proper rowing technique:

The catch

The catch is the start of your stroke. At the catch, the arms should be extended, the handle is loose in the hands, the knees are bent and the heels are slightly raised.

the unit

The unit works your legs, core, and arm muscles, in that order. Start by pressing your heels down and pushing back with your legs. After that, the upper body leans back with the help of the core muscles. The drive ends when you pull the handle toward your lower chest with your arms.

the finish

At the end, the legs are straight or almost straight, the body is slightly bent back, and the handle is stretched just below the chest.

The Recovery

Since the hits are continuous, you have to go back to the catch. So, invest what you just did. The arms will cross over the knees and pull the body forward, before the legs begin to bend.

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, health and sex, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Mens Health, Womens Health, Self, Glamor and more. He has a master’s degree from American University, lives on the beach and hopes to own a teacup pig and a taco truck one day.

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