Rowing Machine Benefits for Cardiovascular Fitness

March 18, 2015

There are many options in a health club today to assist a person in reaching his or her fitness goals, but for some reason people tend to stick to just one or two machines or a particular group of exercise classes to achieve results—rarely varying the routine. However, a person’s body responds more effectively to a varied, balanced program that changes frequently and utilizes all the muscles of the body. With that in mind and if you haven’t tried it yet, the rowing machine is an excellent training option to add to your exercise routine. We're seeing a huge migration from spin to rowing, says Jay Blahnik, a Southern California trainer and group-fitness adviser for Equinox. Spinning isn't dead, but it has been put on notice.

What are the benefits of rowing and what will this equipment do for you in terms of muscle conditioning and cardiovascular fitness? Whether you already row or are considering adding rowing to your overall physical activity program, want to lose weight, cross-train for another sport, compete on the water, or rehabilitate from injury or surgery, rowing is a complete exercise. Rowing machine benefits include strengthening and conditioning most major muscle groups in the upper and lower body and rowing is virtually impact free.

Benefits of Rowing

The following are the key benefits of rowing and may provide just that impetus you need to add the activity to your overall exercise regimen—whether on or off the water!

rowing muscle groups

1. Cardiovascular/Aerobic Conditioning

The rowing machine is an activity that effectively raises your heart rate and provides an excellent overall aerobic workout. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that healthy adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Exercise recommendations can be achieved through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (5 days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (3 days per week). The benefits of a rowing machine can keep your heart rate well within both a moderate intensity and a vigorous intensity range for the appropriate amount of time required. Many indoor rowing machines have the capability to monitor your heart rate with a wireless chest strap or you can use other devices to do so to ensure you are reaching intensity goals.

2. Total-Body Conditioning

Rowing provides upper body conditioning and gives the upper and lower back and the shoulder muscles an excellent workout. Due to the sliding seat, rowing also provides a lower body workout as well. Every stroke requires the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, pecs, biceps, triceps, deltoids, upper back, and lats to engage in the activity. A person’s hands and wrists become stronger as well due to gripping the rower handles.

3. Low-Impact Activity

The motion of using a rowing machine tends to be a low impact, natural movement. A person sits close to the floor in a comfortable position, and there is minimal stress applied to any part of the body. If you compare this with running or some other health club activities, you can see why many people favor the rower and use it often in the gym.

cardiovascular fitness comparison guide

What You Need to Know

When using any type of exercise equipment, proper technique is always important so enlist the aid of the exercise physiologist or fitness instructor to help you get started and achieve results without risking injury. Learn the lingo. Learn about the catch, the drive, the finish and what each means. Indoor rowing machines offer an ideal way to get in shape and stay fit while varying your routine at the same time. Yes, some people just love to walk or run on a treadmill, but it’s time to add other activities to your exercise program to achieve maximum benefits and complete the circle of health.

The good news? No water required!

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