Every piece of gym equipment seems to get its moment in the spotlight, and right now it’s the humble rowing machine. But forget that rickety old rowing machine circa 2006, the new generation of machines combine both power and cardiovascular training into one workout, and even give you that ‘rowing at Henley’ vibe thanks to technology that mimics the natural curve of your stroke through the water. Heck, some of them even have actual water to use as resistance! All of a sudden, the dated gym relic is starting to look a lot more appealing. Is it enough though to tempt us from our beloved treadmill and cycle? Other than its fancy new look, here are some other reasons to give indoor rowing a go.
1) It uses more of your muscles
Probably the biggest reason to strap yourself into a rowing machine is the simple fact that it’ll work more of your muscles, up to 84% of them suggest the makers of these dream machines. Of course, your technique has to be right, so you need to keep your back straight and pull that bar right into your abdomen. Do it right, and you’ll be working your shoulders, biceps, forearms, upper back and lats up top. Lower down, and your quads, hamstrings and glutes will all be called into play. Oh, and it’ll also challenge your core too- not bad for a single machine!
2) It’s adaptable
There has to be a reason that such an effective piece of gym kit is so low on our training wish list, and it’s probably this- that if we do manage to drag our butts onto the seats of the rowing machine we’ll do 10 minutes at the same pace and hop off again. In short, it’s boring. But really that’s more our fault than the machine’s fault, because the rowing machine is extremely adaptable. You can use it for high intensity training, so short bursts getting your heart rate to around 80% of its max with even shorter periods of recovery. You can race or sprint. Or you can do the failsafe endurance (what we’ve all been doing on this machine since forever!).
3) It’s low impact
Getting older has its downsides, not least being the need to protect knees and joints from all that jarring that you usually get as you pound the rubberised pavement of the running machine at the gym or the regular concrete one. And for an exercise that matches (and even potentially beats) running for calorie burn, rowing is surprisingly gentle on your joints making it a good low impact alternative.
4) It’s now a class
We’ve had spinning classes, we’ve had climbing classes and now we’ve got rowing classes. Like with any group exercise class, there are huge benefits to training in a group, the main one of course is that you can’t shirk the work and ditch the effort in favour of a latte at the café down the street- well not without enduring the disapproving stares of 15 other people and your instructor! If you need to reach a new mind-set about rowing, a class can help you do this, working on both technique and giving you some new ideas for interesting routines to do on the rowing machines at the gym.
5) It’s an efficient fat burner
We’re going to be honest here, rowing (and we mean proper rowing where you put your all into it!) is going to make you seriously out of breath. But it’s that very out-of-breathness that is going to offer you major payback through fat burning. As you grip the bar and control your core, driving with your legs and accelerating through the motion, your heart rate will be increasing. And it is this increase in heart rate that will create the necessary oxygen debt which your body will grab back through burning fat even once your session on the rower is over.
6) It’s an outdoor activity too
We’re all for gyms and training whenever and whatever the weather, but if you’ve got the indoor rowing bug then you can take your skills out onto the water too. Being outdoors in the elements will add an extra edge to your training, and you can hone your technique amongst other rowing enthusiasts. Find a rowing club near you with www.britishrowing.org and you’ll be rowing your way