What is a rowing machine good for?

  • Cardio
  • Calorie burning
  • Upper body
  • Lower body
  • Low impact

What exactly is a rowing machine?

A rowing machine is designed to mimic rowing a boat with paddles. It will have foot pedals, a sliding seat and handles to pull on. The handles will be attached to a fly wheel, in a similar way to the exercise bike, to provide resistance to the rowing stroke. The exercise begins with the user sat on the rowing machine with legs bent, arms relaxed and the seat all the way forward. The rowing stroke is produced by straightening the legs and pulling the handles up to the chest. The stroke ends with returning to the starting position, and the exercise is then repeated. Many rowing machines will have on board computers to track the speed and distance travelled.

Rowing machine workout techniques

The fly wheel can be used to increase the tension to make each stroke tougher and provides an all over full-body workout. It can burn two-three times the number of calories as that of an exercise bike because of the fact that more muscle groups are being used. The optimal amount of of time is 30-50 minutes for maximum calorie loss. As with most cardio workouts interval training of a moderate pace then increasing the tempo for short periods of time can be hugely beneficial.

Rowing machine varieties

Rowing machines can have different types of resistance and this can vary the type of routine you can have.

Air resistance rower – the flywheel provides the resistance and air flowing over it can alter the strength of it. The faster you row the more air resistance is applied to the flywheel, this allows you to change the resistance on the go. It can be noisier than the other options.

Water resistance rower – water provides the resistance for this rowing machine and provides a much smoother stroke and is much more realistic. They are heavier than other rowers and need more maintenance to ensure water levels are topped up.

Hydraulic rowing machine – cylinders are used to provide resistance and while they can be adjusted easily the same resistance is used throughout the workout. They are usually light and easy to store making them ideal for occasional home use.

Magnetic resistance rower – the flywheel has a magnetic force applied to it to provide the resistance. It is very quiet and are light and easy to store.

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