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The Most Undervalued Piece of Equipment in the Gym

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rowing Machine

-- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer
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Are you sick of the same-old cardio machines at the gym? Bored by the treadmill? Tired of the elliptical? Can't stand to do another mile on the stationary bike or another flight on the stair climber? Well, then, it's time you head over to the indoor rower. Yes, that rower—the dusty piece of equipment over in the corner of your health club that doesn't get used very often. The one that has a big handle and straps for your feet—that's the one!

The indoor rowing machine is awesome. It used to be fairly popular back in the early health club days but fell out of vogue when the newer and fancier stair climbers, treadmills and ellipticals came on the market. Now though, with more people looking for a complete full-body workout, indoor rowing is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, no doubt thanks to the popular Crossfit style of exercise that often uses indoor rowers in their workouts. And it's with good reason that rowing is becoming trendy again: There are a ton of reasons to love it. In fact, here are nine!

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rower
1. Anyone can do it. Old, young, good knees or bad knees, indoor rowing is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints. So no matter what size you are or what limitations you face, you can probably do it. In fact, it's the exercise du jour for many people who are recovering from an injury because it's so easy on the body, yet provides a great workout!

2. Rowing burns big calories. Hop on the rower, start moving, and burn some major calories. A 160-pound person will burn about 250 calories in just 30 minutes of rowing, which is as much, if not more than, what you would burn on the stair climber or the elliptical.

3. Strength and cardio in one. The reason why the calorie burn is so high is because rowing requires you to use both strength and cardio endurance at once. The pulling motion of your upper body along with the pushing motion of your lower body requires strength of the legs and torso, while the full movement itself requires the increased cardio output of your lungs and heart. Meaning, your muscles are pushed and you get out of breath. Talk about multitasking!

4. Rowing uses your full body. When it comes to indoor rowing, the question isn't which muscles are used, but which muscles aren't used? From your shoulders to your chest to your back and biceps and triceps, your entire upper body is used. On the lower body, everything from your hamstrings to your quads to your glutes and your calves are engaged when rowing. And don't forget the core! Your full torso, including your abs and erecter spinae (back) are used to power through the rowing motion. It is functional fitness at its best!
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I TRYED IT YESTERDAY-IT WAS GREAT....I DO SPIN CLASS AND READ THIS AND TRYED IT AFTER SPINNING. AFTER 48 MINUTES OF SPINNING I ONLY LASTED 12 MINUTES! TRY IT YOUR LIKE IT! - 4/5/2014 5:43:21 PM
  • I wish I had access to one. - 3/30/2014 6:26:41 AM
  • Don't have a rowing machine in my gym. - 3/17/2014 9:41:15 PM
  • VIXXTAA
    I've used the rower a few times in sessions with my trainer. It's a tough work out for sure. Reading this article made me think I should incorporate it more into my cardio work outs on my own...might give it a go this week :) - 2/24/2014 2:06:04 AM
  • KERRI_ENGLAND
    I tried the rowing machine today after reading this article recently. I thought, "Well, it'll be a nice change up for 30 mins instead of the treadmill." WRONG! After 12 minutes, I'm absolutely worn out! (I think the trainer started me off on too high of a resistance level, so I adjusted it down & still think it may be too high.) But I have new goals now & something new to do at the gym. I'm hooked! :) - 2/21/2014 8:12:21 PM
  • SNOOKS2013
    Will look into this - 2/20/2014 5:32:17 AM
  • I don't like to use this machine at all. My lower back hurts after 10 mins, and it is boring as hell working out on this! I'll pass! - 2/19/2014 10:51:05 PM
  • its shameful we have a beautiful one in the gym at work and I have never used it. - 2/19/2014 8:53:53 PM
  • BOJAMTL
    Great to see so many positive views. Good timing just a few days after the WIRC (CRASH-Bs) the big indoor rowing event.

    A few links for anyone:

    www.concept2.co
    m great for their log website and all the monthly challenges.
    www.therowingco
    mpany.co.uk good for the info into training, losing weight or more competitive, forums are a rich source of encouragement.
    http://www.nona
    thlon.com/ an annual year long challenge brilliantly run. - 2/19/2014 5:27:45 PM
  • I have use the rowing machine at the YMCA.It is true it is relaxing. I feel like I am rowing in the open waters:) I will start doing it tomorrow with my other classes after reading all the great things about it. - 2/19/2014 12:25:03 PM
  • i definitely burn more cals on the stairclimber easily... on that i never go below 600/hr so 300 for their half hr. and thats on an easier setting normally i do HIITS. its more comparable to my treadmill workouts. i have to work rlly hard to stay at 600/hr cals on that and im sure itd be similar for rowing. rower is good but i dont ever feel like i get as good of a workout as the others, and its more monotonous and therefore boring to me for some reason. but hey as long as your doing SOMETHING always go for it. everyone can find their preference this is a decent alternative - 2/19/2014 11:22:32 AM
  • I have an older model rowing machine -- now I'm curious how it would stack up. - 2/19/2014 11:12:53 AM
  • The instructions aren't what I was taught - I was taught to lean back while pulling with the arms so that the back muscles get exercised along with the arms - is this incorrect? The instructions here only talk about using the arms, not the back. - 2/19/2014 9:57:37 AM
  • PATMCGEE
    It would be really helpful if you had a review of rowing machines. The prices are all over the map and I would like to get one for home use. - 2/19/2014 9:57:36 AM
  • I absolutely LOVE rowing!! It's great for the arms and back. The fact that it works out the entire body is a plus!! - 2/19/2014 9:08:23 AM
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