The Indoor Rowing Machine
When it comes to cardio there's an endless amount of different machines, workout styles and outdoor options to choose from! Sprinting stairs, taking your jump rope to the park, doing deadmills in the gym.
The indoor rowing is an often forgotten form of cardio that's definitely worth doing. Most people shy away from the rower or dismiss it as an ineffective workout simply because they don't know how to use an indoor rower, or they're struggling to get proper form down pat.
A Brief Primer On Rowing Technique
The starting position, known as the "catch," the knees are bent, shoulders and arms are reaching forward, and shins are vertical. Initiate the "drive" phase of the movement by pushing your feet against the machine's platform, straightening the legs until there is just a slight bend in the knees. Begin to pull the handle toward your lower chest by bending your elbows as you lean slightly backward, keeping your back straight. Initiate the recovery phase by returning to the starting position. The motion of rowing should be fluid and continuous.
Rowing Machine Benefits
Let's take a look at why you should be rowing for cardio and warming up before your workout.
Improves Cardio Conditioning Immensely
Rowing is no joke, professional rowers are some of the fittest athletes in the world.
There's a common misconception that rowing only works the arms... this is far from the truth.
When you're rowing you'll be working your arms, back, shoulders, quads and core throughout the fluid motions of your stroke.
As a result of this full body exertion your conditioning in other forms of cardio, such as the deadmill sprint and jump rope will be greatly improved.
Low Impact - No Stress On The Joints!
Stair sprints, jump rope, box jumps... these are all great forms of cardio but they're very taxing on our joints.
The constantly bounding and impact, if performed too frequently or with poor form can quickly lead to injury and excessive wear and tear on the joints.
The indoor rower provides the same style of killer workout as they high impact options, however there's absolutely no impact. At no point are you hitting the ground or landing harshly.
Instead you're moving your body in a fluid constant motion on the rower, this makes the indoor rower great for those recovering from joint issues as well as older athletes.
If you're looking to burn fat, be it a few pounds or delving down into single digit body fat you can't go past the indoor rower for caloric burn.
We've established that a caloric deficit is the #1 requirement for fat loss, and this can be done via diet alone however why make things harder than they need to be? Eating a few extra calories and retaining your sanity before burning them off with a hardcore interval rowing workout is one of the best way to go about a sustainable cutting phase.
Can Be Performed At Home
You may not necessarily have enough room in your house or apartment for forms of cardio like the jump rope, a commercial treadmill or a stair climber, but you've probably got enough space for a rowing machine!
The indoor rower, unlike most other pieces of cardio equipment is quite narrow and can be quickly disassembled and folded up for storage when not being used. A narrow room that allows you at least 2.5 metres in length is more than enough to set up your rower for your warm-up or interval training.
Which Indoor Rower?
Concept2, often referred to simply as the 'C2 rower' is the standard when it comes to indoor rowers.
Any serious home gym, CrossFit box, rowing competition and the like will be using C2 rowers, hands down.
The C2 rower is not only the worldwide standard when it comes to indoor rowers and rowing competitions, but it also has the most accurate and advanced programming system for monitoring heart rate, measuring distances and inputting workouts.
Although the C2 rower is slightly more expensive than any run of the mill water wheel rower, the Concept2 Model D rower will last you a lifetime provided it's looked after.
The model D has a relatively small footprint and can be disassembled when not in use, perfect for those looking for a piece of cardio equipment for home that won't constantly consume a large footprint like a cross trainer or treadmill would.
You can get your own C2 Model D here.
C2 Rower Workouts
There's a fantastic PDF containing 24 rowing challenges you can freely download here.
I also recommend the following for blasting calories and improving your cardio conditioning...
Perform eight work intervals of 20 seconds with 10 seconds of low to moderate recovery rowing between each set.
Perform a 500-meter sprint, then drop back to a low to moderate pace for twice as long as it takes you to complete the sprint. Repeat this process five to six times.
Perform intervals of 500-400-300-200-100 meters with 60 seconds rest in between.
Test yourself with a 2,000 meter row, or break it up into two sessions of 1,000 meters.
Do 5 intervals of 300 meters with little rest in between, or just row as hard as you can for the length of a song.