Rowing is one of the best forms of exercise for building endurance. Not only does rowing allow you to develop your cardiovascular system, but it can also focus on many major muscle groups, providing you with a challenging workout that will burn fat and allow you to shed pounds. Unlike your basic cardio equipment such as stationary bikes or treadmills, rowing machines exercise both the upper and lower body. A low impact exercise, a rower won’t put unnecessary strain on the joints like running or jogging can.
In the beginning, it can be easy to make mistakes when working out on a rower. But a number of calories burned from this type of workout is enough to encourage even the avid runner to give this machine a shot. Depending on the kind of resistance you row with, how long your workout is and how fast you row, this type of workout can burn anywhere from four hundred to a thousand calories in as little as an hour. This is a highly effective workout that can work the calves, shoulders, abs, back, arms and hamstrings.
Row Machine Resistance Type and Workout Options
There are four different types of rowing machines to choose from –
- water resistance,
- cylinder based,
- magnetic resistance and
- air resistance.
Air resistance rowers have been around since the early 80s and utilize a flywheel for resistance. The flywheel houses a large fan blade which is moved by pulling the rowing handle. The type of wind resistance rower also works to keep you cool during your workout. As you row faster the flywheel generates more resistance. Some flywheel rowers allow the user to adjust the settings on the flywheel, which decreases or increases resistance, but these models are rare. The flywheel is connected by a chain to the handle. Many avid rowers prefer flywheel models over water rowers because of the cooling feature. However, this type of model can make a lot of noise when in use, which is enough to deter some consumers from buying this kind of rower. Water resistance rowers are virtually quiet running, which makes them more house and apartment friendly.
Piston resistance rowers are probably the most affordable style and feature a couple of hydraulic pistons that connect to the rower’s paddle. This type of rowing machine allows the user to adjust the resistance level manually and can be easily broken down and folded for storage. After using air or water resistance rower, you’ll be surprised at how jerky and uncomfortable it is to use a machine that utilizes piston resistance. These rowers have a reputation for poor performance and while more affordable than other styles of rowers, avoid buying one at all costs.
Why Water Resistance Rowing Machines are King
More expensive than air resistance rowers, the water resistance row machines are probably the most popular style because they use water and provide a realistic rowing experience. Equipped with two water tanks, the user can add or remove water from the main tank to decrease or increase resistance by just flipping a switch. Many people who have tried this type of machine felt that it closely replicated the feel of rowing on water and the overall experience was relaxing and more effective than an air resistance machine. Very low maintenance, the water tanks should be rinsed out and refilled about once a month. The very design of this type of rower can be best described as elegant. With wood and metal finishes and an easy fold design, a water rower can actually add a touch of class to any room in your home.
Magnetic resistance row machines use electromagnets to provide resistance. These magnets slow the flywheel and make the user row harder to keep up momentum. This type of rower is not nearly as portable as air resistance models. The resistance mechanism makes them quieter than air rowers and the compact design makes them much easier to transport or store. Resistance levels can be adjusted digitally using the console controls or by using mechanical sliders.
Each type of rower comes with advantages and disadvantages. The type you choose should be based on your budget, personal preference, and space. If you’re uncertain about which style of rower is right for you, visit your local gym where you’ll be sure to find a variety of styles you can try out.
The Three Common Rowing Mistakes to Avoid during a Workout
If you’ve never worked out on a rower, there are some common mistakes to avoid that can help to make your workout more effective and will allow you to burn more calories. So for better results, learn what not to do during your row machine workout.
If you’re using an air resistance rower, a common mistake is forgetting to adjust the damper setting. The damper is a lever located on the side of the machine. If it’s set to a higher setting, the workout may be too difficult and can easily exhaust muscles before you’re able to finish a workout. Start off slow. This damper setting is very similar to gears on a bike, and the higher the resistance level, the harder the workout. Start off by adjusting the settings to somewhere in the middle for a rowing experience that’s similar to paddling across a lake.
Most people who row have impressive upper body strength and huge muscles in the arms and shoulders. But rowing with just the arms is a common mistake that can really affect your performance and results. Placing too much pressure on the arms and shoulders can also cause serious injury. Sixty percent of power from rowing should come from the legs while twenty percent should come from tightening and bracing the abs and only twenty percent of the power should come from the arms. To use your legs to power your stroke push against the area where your feet are strapped in place.
Poor posture can also affect results. If you keep your back rounded while rowing you can cause unnecessary strain on the lower back. It can also have an adverse impact on your core workout. Instead sit up tall and focus on keeping the ab muscles tight.
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