Not all cardio machines are created equal.
Some don’t really do much but burn some calories…others work your whole body and work it well. Personally- I avoid an elliptical machine unless I’m ready to crank up the resistance and really work, you know? Otherwise I’m sort of just coasting along and not really doing anything (and it’s boring!)
Some cardio machines are easy to coast on and some make you really work it.
The rower falls into the latter category. This piece of equipment is tough you guys! It’s not easy and it shouldn’t ever feel that way- but soooo many people row incorrectly. Rowing incorrectly won’t engage all the muscles you want to work, and what’s the point in that? Bad form won’t really hurt you much, but you won’t get the full body effect as when you are rowing properly.
When rowing properly, your legs, butt, chest, arms, back and core are all working hard and firing up to perform the movements…AND holy shit will it get your heart rate up!! MAJOR cardio here.
Just 4 minutes on this bad boy going hard and I’m gasping for air, like “I might die if I don’t stop” type of gasping for air. (You won’t die though, don’t worry!)
When you hop on a rower, do so with a goal in mind. It’s hard to enjoy the rower if you just hop on and aimlessly start going. If you do this, I bet you’ll be off and wandering on to something else within a few minutes.
I like to start off with a 1,000 meter row. If you work hard, you should finish this in 4 minutes or less. Work toward that…and once you nail that, try to do a 2,000 meter row in under 8 and a half minutes. OR, alternatively, you can do periods of sprints and Rests.
Hop on, strap those feet in and sprint 250 meters, then casually row 100 meters, then sprint 250 again and keep going like this for 10-15 minutes this way.
I also like to mix in some rowing when I am doing weighted exercises on the floor. I’ll do some rounds of squats, lunges, thrusters, plank holds etc and then hop on the rower and row 500 meters, get off and do another round of floor exercises. This way of working keeps your heart rate up and those calories burning, even when you aren’t on the rower. It’s intense and you’ll achieve a great workout in a shorter amount of time…which is always a good thing!
Now for that form…. because this is super important!
First of all, never round your back. Back straight and core tight at all times. Tightening your core will help keep your back straight. When you row out, the power should be coming from your legs and butt. So push explosively and then follow that with rowing your arms into your chest, right at your sports bra line. Next, extend arms straight, lean forward with a slight bend in the legs and then continue to bend your knees as you glide toward the front. Then do the whole thing again, keeping arms straight as legs push out fast, then pull arms into chest. Once you get it, it’ll feel like a nice, smooth, seamless rhythm.
The most important thing, other than keeping your back straight, is to use your butt to push out, not your arms. Rowing is leg focused on these machines, so use that booty and you’ll feel a great burn. By the end of a 1k row, but butt feels sore, and that’s how it should be!
If you don’t usually go near this machine- give it a try! SO many popular group fitness classes use rowers, and there is a good reason why: they work.