Rowing machine exercises are a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and tone most of the major muscles groups. It’s important, however, to be sure you’re doing your routine properly and are taking steps to protect yourself from injury. If you have the chance, do some rowing machine training with a fitness expert who can observe your form and give you pointers when you begin working out.
Rowing focuses primarily on giving you a good cardiovascular workout, but rowing machine exercises also engage most of the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body and strengthen your core as well. Be sure you always warm up for at least five minutes before attempting to use your rowing machine in order to prevent strains, sprains or lower back injuries. It’s also a good idea to do some post-rowing stretches to cool down and prevent tight muscles.
You also need to focus on proper form in order to maximize the benefits of your rowing machine exercises. Although you will lean forward slightly at the beginning of each stroke, your back should be relaxed and at a 90 degree angle to the rails through the stroke.
Be sure that you exhale during the drive phase of your stroke and inhale during recovery. (You can learn more about proper form and the various phases of an indoor rowing stroke in our article on rowing machine techniques).
Novices tend to focus on using the upper body when performing indoor rower exercises, but this is incorrect. In fact, the majority of the work should be done with the lower body. You should push off with your feet, putting the full power of your legs into each stroke, so that you can pull back on the handlebars with a slightly loose grip and without straining to pull your full body weight.
Although cardiovascular exercise is the main focus of indoor rowers, they can also give you an impressive calorie burn. Because you use both the upper and lower body and you have to engage your core (including abdominal muscles), you burn more calories than you would with exercise on a treadmill or elliptical, both of which use only the lower body muscles during the same amount of time.
To maximize your calorie burn, focus on higher speeds for shorter periods of time when using an indoor rower. For instance, rowing quickly for fifteen minutes will burn more calories than rowing at a moderate or slow pace for thirty minutes. Interval training is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your rowing machine exercises. For the best results, try rowing at a moderate pace for three to five minutes, then push yourself to do a 30 second burst at your absolute fastest rate, repeating these intervals for at least 20 minutes.
The many benefits of rowing machine exercises are obvious, but sticking with your routine for the long haul is the most important consideration if you want to burn calories, lose weight, improve your heart health and stay fit in the long run.
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