4 Reasons Why Rowing is a Great Workout
There are more than a few reasons why rowing is steadily gaining in popularity as a cardio option.
Rowing is has been steadily growing in popularity for a decade. Leigh Wierichs, the Training and Education Manager at Life Fitness, examines a few reasons why.
The Perfect Combination: Low Impact with High Caloric Expenditure
Rowing is a low-impact workout appropriate for exercisers of all ability levels and even for people with some injuries or returning to exercise. But, for a low-impact activity it has a very high caloric expenditure. The caloric expenditure of rowing can be 400 to 500 calories per hour (depending upon intensity, the individual etc.), which is slightly less than running, with limited impact to the joints. Rowing has a significantly higher caloric expenditure than other low-impact activities such as walking. So, for those looking to maximize calorie burn, while minimizing joint stress, rowing is a great addition to a workout routine.
The rowing machine provides an extremely versatile workout. It can be used for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or endurance training. Rowing improves aerobic fitness (increase cardiac output) and provide benefits to the heart, lungs, and overall health. And, due to the use of the legs and the resistance of the rower, it builds strength and endurance in the lower body. The Heat Rower provides the additional advantage of being able to fine tune the resistance. This allows users to tailor the workout towards that lower body strength/endurance focus or a focus on aerobic fitness. The ability to carefully adjust the resistance also means that the user has more precise control over the intensity of the workout whether they are doing steady-state aerobic endurance training or interval training.
It's a Total-Body Workout
Rowing uses about 85% of the muscles in the body. While other cardio modalities like running, walking or cycling tend to be focused on lower body only, rowing truly provides a total-body workout. In the rowing movement, exercisers use about 60% lower body, 30% core, and 10% upper body. So, a user is engaging every area of the body and can shift the intensity and type of workout by controlling the resistance, the cadence (strokes per minute) and how hard they drive the stroke. Rowing is truly a hybrid of aerobic training and total-body muscular endurance training. Exercisers can feel that the rowing stroke mimics the feel of deadlifts and leg presses as they drive off of the blocks. The movement activates the posterior chain including the glutes, which many exercisers need due to the weakening of the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings in particular) that comes from sitting for long periods of time.
Rowing Improves Posture
With proper form, rowing helps strengthen the core and posterior chain and improves posture. Technique is an important component of this benefit as it is essential to keep the core engaged throughout the movement and hinge at the hip joint rather than rounding through the upper back as the body comes into the catch. Exercises need to be aware of their spinal alignment throughout the entire stroke to see the excellent postural benefits provided by a rower.
Rowing has more than a few benefits for exercisers of all abilities. But before adding it to the regular routine, exercisers need to understand the basics of rowing technique.