The rowing machine, also called an ergometer, has been gaining in popularity due to the many benefits it offers. Rowing is a versatile full-body workout that builds muscle, strengthens endurance and blasts calories. It’s also easy on your joints. Whether you prefer to row alone in the comfort of your home or join a rowing class at the gym, you’ll likely find it’s a challenging workout that delivers results.
Here are some benefits of rowing:
Builds and tones muscles
Rowing is a full-body exercise that uses almost every major muscle group in your body, including legs, glutes, hips, back, abs, shoulders and arms. Although it seems like you’re mostly working your arms when you stroke, the rowing technique primarily engages your legs and core. Because it engages muscles in the back, rowing also helps improve posture. This can be especially beneficial to runners, who often have poor posture leading to bad form.
Strengthens cardiovascular system
Rowing is an aerobic exercise that keeps the heart rate elevated. This helps strengthen your heart, improve lung function and increase stamina. By lowering the resistance on the machine, you can row faster, increasing your aerobic expenditure.
Puts minimal strain on joints
The low-impact nature of rowing means it’s easy on your joints, as long as you maintain proper form. This is good for individuals with arthritis or joint pain, those recuperating from injury or people who cannot perform high-impact activities.
Looking for a calorie-torching workout? According to Harvard Health, vigorous-intensity rowing can burn 255 calories in a half hour if you weigh 125-pounds or 377 calories for a 185-pound person. By comparison, low-impact aerobics can burn 165/244 calories respectively.
If you’re ready to give rowing a try, it’s important to master your form. Here’s the correct way to complete one full stroke:
- The Catch: This is the starting point for your stroke. Put your feet in the stirrups and bend your knees up. Extend your arms to grab the handle, leaning forward until your shoulders are just in front of your hips. Although your torso is slightly tilted forward, your back should be straight.
- The Drive: This is where you begin to pull back on the handle. With your core tight, back flat and arms locked, drive your legs back until they are almost straight. Then hinge your hips and lean your torso back, pulling the handle with your arms by bending your elbows.
- The Finish: Keep your back and legs straight, core tight, shoulder blades together and elbows bent as you pull the handle closer towards your lower chest. Arms should be slightly away from your ribcage, but not flared out to the sides.
- The Recovery: This is the reverse movement of the drive, bringing you back to the catch. As you straighten your arms, begin to hinge your torso forward from the hips, keeping your back straight and core tight. Bring your knees back to a bent position once the handle passes back over them.