You’ll probably come across a rower in any gym. Basically, a rowing machine uses the same motions you do when you’re rowing a boat. The difference is that you can set your own resistance to get a tougher, more intense workout or, why not, an easier one.
It’s a great piece of equipment that will help you train your whole body at once. We’ll discuss all the rowing machine benefits below, but we’ll also tackle some of the issues associated with using one.
The Benefits of using a Rowing Machine
These are the main rowing machine benefits you need to be aware of if you’re thinking about using/buying one:
1. You’re Stronger
You want to stay or get in shape, right? But your health is equally important, and that’s why you should also introduce a form of cardio in your workout routine. These aerobic exercises aren’t just great for losing weight or feeling better, they also improve your immune system.
That’s because the immune system can work better against germs if it’s stronger. Besides, an accelerated metabolism will fight any infection faster and you’ll recover easier.
2. You’re Healthier
Plus, having a strong heart that can pump blood better means you’re getting more oxygen in your body, and that your organs work better. So you’re healthier and at a lower risk of getting all sorts of cardiovascular diseases. All that is topped off by you sleeping better and having a better mood altogether.
But having a heart that’s so resistant can also improve your lungs, so you can prevent or ease affections such as asthma or sleep apnea. The good news is that, even if you don’t have respiratory issues, you’ll still sleep better thanks to increased lung capacity.
3. You’re Happier
Besides, when we’re exercising, our brain releases endorphins and serotonin, hormones involved in making us feel happy. So you’ll be at a lower risk for depression or you can even use exercises as part of your strategy to fight depression.
And don’t forget that finishing a hard workout makes us feel more accomplished. That can really help us deal with all sorts of problems in our lives because we’re improving our self-esteem, as well as giving our brains a break to find solutions to those complicated problems.
4. You’re Losing Weight
All rowing machines have adjustable resistances so you can work out at various intensities according to your fitness level. But even at average intensity, you’ll still get rid of about 700 calories each hour, which is better than other gym machines, like exercise bikes.
Granted, you can lose weight by dieting, too. But that entails restricting calories which can be very difficult for most of us, particularly for the gourmands or the ones not enjoying regular meals.
5. You’re Losing Fat
Seeing that you’re using your whole body at the same time, it’s only natural that you’d be spending more energy, therefore, more calories. But the catch is that you’re also melting more fat in the process, so the weight off isn’t just water weight.
Plus, you’re not losing muscle mass either. In fact, you’re building muscle, which increases your metabolism and contributes to a fair share of fat deposits being burnt in the process.
6. Stronger Upper Body
With a rower, you’re exercising both your upper and your lower body much better than with other fitness machines that don’t involve weight lifting. So considering you’re working against your own strength, you can actually increase your muscle mass, not just get more toned. The upper body and core muscles you’re targeting are:
- Upper back
All these muscles are targeted at the same time, and you’ll see how strong arms and back are involved in all sorts of daily stuff, not just making you look better. So you won’t have any backaches associated with poor posture, you can start new hobbies like rock climbing and you’ll even improve your strength training.
7. Stronger Lower Body
You’ll also be exercising your lower body, getting your quads and calves a particularly good burn. You will feel your hamstrings and glutes working too, which is great for burning more calories, though these aren’t targeted primarily.
Having a stronger lower body allows you to do all sorts of cool balance or agility workouts. And these strong muscles and bones in your legs will help prevent all sorts of age-related illnesses, such as hip fractures.
8. It’s Low-impact
If your joints are a bit shabby, if you’re new to exercise or if you’re recovering from an injury, low-impact workouts are a great choice. Of course, we all know the benefits of high impact, but sometimes, you just can’t do that all the time, or at all.
And unlike some other gym machines, a rower mimics movements your body actually does when you’re rowing a boat, which feels very natural. So this is a great way to strengthen your muscles, as well as your joints – particularly your knees.
9. You’re Building Endurance
Do you feel tired after climbing one or two flights of stairs? Then your endurance level might be going down the drain. To improve it, you need to give your metabolism a boost, and a rower can do exactly that.
That’s because you’ll be exercising most of your body muscles, meaning you’ll get stronger. You might also lose some weight, so you’ll have fewer pounds to carry. And considering your heart will become stronger too, your lung capacity will increase and thus you won’t lose your breath as easily.
10. It’s Easy to Use
There are rowers for every budget, so you can easily find one that fits your financial plans without sacrificing quality. There’s also the issue of space, so you should make sure the rowing machine you get fits your home.
But apart from that, another great benefit if you get one at home, is convenience. You can get rowing just as soon as you wake up, without having to muster enough motivation to get dressed and going to the gym. Besides, using a rower is very intuitive, which is also a plus. So if you’re not used to gym equipment, a rower is much easier to master, provided you use the proper form.
11. It’s a Fun Workout
Whether you plan to use one at your local gym or buy a rowing machine for home use, you’ll have plenty of fun.
However, dragging yourself off to the gym to exercise can become pretty irksome and feel like an uncomfortable routine. But working out from your own home, while watching a good TV show can sometimes become much more fun. Or, if your neighbours don’t mind, you can play some loud sea noises and imagine you’re Captain Ahab when he was a young sailor.
Other workouts, such as strength training, might become too repetitive, with breaks too long in between the sets, while a rower is rather exciting. If you’re constantly varying the intensity of your workouts, you can keep your brain working too, as well as your muscles.
With those advantages in mind, let’s look at some of the issues that might arise from using a rower:
Is it good for Your Back?
Is it true that using a rower puts quite an amount of pressure on your lower back? That’s only if you’re not using it properly, and you can get really sore because of that, or even injured.
So if you want to avoid all that, you want to let your legs do all the work and fight the resistance used by the rower. To begin, make sure the stirrups are fastened well and that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Your back has to be straight too, with your core muscles tight, and don’t use jerking motions when you’re rowing.
Isn’t Strength Training Better?
If you’re already interested in building muscle mass and endurance, strength training might arguably be better for that. That’s because some muscle groups aren’t targeted very well by a rower, such as your glutes or your triceps.
Still, proficient strength training requires either getting to the gym or buying your own weights for home use, though you still need at least a session with a certified trainer, to ensure you have the proper form. Basically, strength training requires bigger investments, more tedious, lengthy workouts and going to the gym at least once in a while, without the cardio benefits that rowers have.
Why not both, though? You can combine strength workouts with rower workouts to have a rounded routine, with plenty of variety in your fitness schedule.
Aren’t Other Machines Better?
This depends on your purpose, and considering there is no such thing as a perfect gym machine, there is always another equipment that can be better at some point in time. For instance, a stationary bike might be better for lower body workouts, while a treadmill can offer you the chance to run indoors.
But if you look at the advantages above, a rower is great both for cardio and strength reasons.
What about High-impact?
High-impact workouts can burn more calories, so they are better for losing weight faster. However, not everyone can do jump squats, jumping lunges or burpees for an hour straight-through, and it’s not wise to, either. So low impact workouts can still provide a good physical activity, burning plenty of calories.
Rowers aren’t your average low-impact machines, they’re even more challenging than a treadmill. Basically, even if HIIT can provide a good anaerobic workout, so can rowing machines. Therefore, you’ll be reaching very high levels of VO2 max, which means you’ll be burning more calories. And if you want to take it back a few notches, you can simply set up the resistance and get just a medium or low-intensity cardio for the day.
We’ve discussed a number of benefits entailed by using a rower, some of which are completely unique courtesy of this machine. We also answered a few questions you might legitimately have about the possible risks or disadvantages about using one, so you can have a complete picture.
Either way, training on a rowing machine brings great benefits. What would you consider the most important one?