Get a rowing workout without the boat
Want to get a great cardiovascular workout but you're tired of thumping away on a treadmill or spinning your heels on a stationary bike? Then maybe it's time you checked out a rowing machine, an exciting, unorthodox way to burn calories and build muscle.
"Rowers," also known as ergometers (or a device built to measure the amount of work being performed), have actually been around for quite some time. In fact, early designs first emerged in the 1950s, when rowing coaches began looking for new ways to help athletes train during the off-season or while away from the water.
The more recent air rowers are sometimes referred to as air rowing machines, because in the late 1980s the popular hydraulic flywheel design was introduced. Variations of rowers include kayak and sculling simulators. More advanced devices, such as the Concept 2 rowing machine, often include several adjustable resistance settings and can record both the calories you've burned and the distance traveled.
Advantages of Rowing Machines
As with elliptical machines or the stationary bike, rowing machines are great devices because they minimize the amount of impact felt by the user. Rowers provide a calorie-burning cardio workout comparable to running or jogging, and they place far less pressure on a user's knees, feet and joints. Instead, the calculated resistance (which can be adjusted for each skill level) requires users to employ both their arms and feet at an individually moderate but collectively challenging level of cardiovascular activity. In other words, the rower's combined exercise can burn calories comparable to running but places less strain on the body.
Disadvantages of Rowing Machines
Like many other indoor exercise machines, the challenge for rowing machine users is to maintain interest. That can be difficult, and requires they find something to keep themselves preoccupied while performing the activity, such as watching TV or listening to music.
However, the most pressing concern for new rowers is to maintain a sound technique. Placing too much pressure on the lower back while pushing off can cause significant strain. If you're finding that a 20-minute rowing session leaves your lower or upper back tender, then it would be a good idea to consult a gym employee to troubleshoot the issue and prevent serious injury.