You may not realize it, but chances are you are ignoring one of the single best exercises for maintaining a fit and healthy body. The benefits of running, biking, yoga, and lifting weights are all well known, but a surprisingly large number of people fail to recognize the calorie-burning, muscle-building power that can be achieved from rowing.
Here are six reasons you should add rowing on a machine like the WaterRower to your workout regimen:
1. A Total Body Workout
If you’re looking for a workout that uses nearly every major muscle group in your body, it’s time to try rowing. US Olympic rowing coach Mike Teti says that rowing machines “provide the best total-body workout of any cardio equipment.” He’s not exaggerating.
Unlike a spin class, where the workout is about 95% legs and 5% upper body, rowing involves about 60% legs and 40% upper body. Your quads, hamstrings, back, abdominals, arms, shoulders, and calves all take part in your rowing stroke to give you a total body workout. On average, rowing tends to burn 2-3x more calories than spinning.
Plus, rowing provides both an aerobic exercise as well as some serious muscle-building. A consistent rowing stroke will keep your heart rate elevated for a powerful cardio workout, while the leg presses and rows add a major strength-training component to the motion. Because rowing has resistance in both directions, this exercise will make you stronger and increase the rate at which you burn calories.
2. No Stress or Strain
If you’ve got bad joints or are still sore from a recent injury, running or weightlifting are probably not the best ideas. Instead, you need a workout with minimal stress and maximum efficiency.
Enter rowing. From a seated position, there’s no impact on your joints like you would feel running (unless you’re on the impact-free Zero Runner, of course). And there’s no need to keep up with a pace set by the computer. Keeping your rowing machine at a low tension level allows you to maintain a high rate of speed with little resistance so you can reach your target heart rate and maintain an aerobic state without unduly straining your joints.
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3. Great for Weight Loss
Trying to meet that New Year’s Resolution and slim down to your desired weight? Rowing is one of the best and most efficient exercises to help you reach your goal.
Because of the way rowing combines both cardio and strength training, your body will be burning calories at a rate you won’t believe. Rowing for 30 minutes at a moderate pace, a 150lbs person can burn roughly 238 calories. Row a little more vigorously and you could be burning 800 calories an hour on average. Talk about an efficient workout!
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4. Vary Your Routine
Once you’ve found a series of exercises and fitness machines that you like, it’s easy to fall into a standard routine. However, a stale routine not only makes it easier to get bored while you exercise, but it can also decrease the impact those exercises have on your body. Simply put, your muscles grow accustomed to exercises they’re used to.
Rowing is a terrific way to add variety to your routine. Running and biking are all things most of us are pretty familiar with. How often do you submit your body to the rigors involved in rowing? Probably not very. Because of this, rowing will add some much needed challenge to your routine, requiring more of your attention and focus than a typical run on the treadmill.
5. Improve Your Posture
Most people spend several hours a day, every single day, sitting hunched over their desk. In fact, you are probably sitting hunched over your desk right now as you read this!
Running and biking use the same sorts of actions you employ while sitting: running involves hip and knee flexion while biking recreates the rounded spine you have when you type away at your computer. Rowing, on the other hand, extends your legs, opens up your chest, wakes up your back, and thereby counteracts your day to day actions. Spend a few minutes every day on a rowing machine and you’ll quickly feel the difference in your posture the next time you’re at the office.
6. If It’s a Good Idea for Frank Underwood…
“There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.” – Frank Underwood