Indoor rowing has fast emerged as a popular fitness trend over the past few years. More interest can be attributed to the benefits of indoor rowing that have drawn in consumers and professionals alike from water-based rowing into gyms and homes.
The idea is pretty simple: An individual or a group of people each mounts their own rowing machine, and then workout through a 30 minute or one-hour session that is designed to mimic true water-based rowing.
With the right technique, you can enjoy a number of benefits while focusing on multiple fitness components.
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Rowing Technique For Maximum Benefits
Rowing is not just about pulling the cord on the rowing machine. To get the maximum benefits while avoiding straining yourself, there is a specific technique that you should learn.
It is called the “Catch – Drive – Finish – Recover” technique.
- The Catch – This is the starting position where you have to sit properly, straighten your body, contract your abdominal muscles and take hold of the bar of the indoor rowing machine. Your knees should be bending and your spine straight.
- The Drive – This is where you drive back your feet by straightening your legs and pull the rowing machine bar with your arms. This movement needs to be quick and horizontal.
- The Finish – At this point, your legs should be completely extended, shoulders pushed backward and the bar positioned against your upper abdominal muscles.
- Recover – This ends the exercise by stretching your arms out while your body is moving forward. Your knees should be bending and the seat moving to the ‘catch’ position.
We have included a video demonstration that fully covers the “Catch – Drive – Finish – Recover” technique below :
Benefits of Using Rowing Machines
- Improves Cardiovascular Fitness – Rowing is one of the most effective exercises to enhance your cardio-respiratory system. This is because it engages every major muscle group in your body leading to increased heart rate and lung ability to provide oxygen to the blood, heart and the rest of the body. Cardiovascular fitness helps deliver energy and nutrients to your cells.
- Builds Muscle Strength and Improves Endurance – Considering the overall workout effectiveness that rowing has on the whole body, muscle strength is greatly improved. The repeated pulling and pushing against the resistance of the rowing machine has spurring physical adaptations that enable your muscles to grow and develop more strength. The ability to exert force repeatedly without corresponding fatigue improves muscle endurance.
- Low Impact Exercise With Great Results – Both competitive and recreational rowing have a unique benefit in comparison to most sports. They exercise all your major muscle groups including your legs, arms and back. When the rowing technique is executed properly, it is a safe motion that provides little room for serious injury unlike weight-bearing forms of exercise.
- Weight Loss – Indoor rowing promotes weight loss and helps maintain a healthy balance of fat-free mass in your body. Rowing will enable you to burn more calories with less effort than you would do by engaging in other sports or exercise forms like running. The low impact rowing exercises will ensure that you build strength in your upper body and core while avoiding excessive tear and wear on your body and joints. The result is a healthy body composition.
- A Low-Cost Form of Exercise – Whether you are planning to use a rowing machine in a gym or buy your own, the investment is relatively lower than other cardiovascular fitness equipment. Popular indoor rowing machines from leading companies in the market are being sold below the $1000 mark. High-end commercial group cycling bikes and other gym equipment will cost you much more than that. Classes in gyms are also affordable with rates ranging between $15 and $30, charged depending on the gym you attend and the number of classes you purchase.
- Accessibility – Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a river or lake, not to mention a boat. Rowing machines are practically available in almost all gyms and fitness centers throughout the year. Anyone can give them a try and even buy one for home use. If you are considering buying, consider quality and read reviews and buyer feedback.
While everyone wants to enjoy the benefits of indoor rowing, it is important to understand that it’s not without risks. Poor rowing technique or form can lead to injury, particularly on the lower back.
If you are new to rowing, get tips from a trainer to ensure that you are doing it right. Just like other forms of exercise, start slow and work your way up.