Category Archives: Rowing Fitness

Why runners should be rowers.

This is a great post originally from www.firstdegreefitness-europe.com that struck a chord with me. I used to play a lot of rugby and got into rowing once I had stopped playing regularly. Rugby is an intense sport and as part of my training I did a lot of running and picked up a persistent calf muscle injury which took a lot of rehab. To keep fit I was swimming and cycling but had I known about how intense rowing is, I would most definitely had done this instead and then added it as permanent part of my training.

As a runner I was in need of a workout to help me retain fitness while I rehabbed a foot injury, so I was directed to a rowing machine—commonly referred to as an ergometer or “erg.”
Then I endured one of the most challenging cross-training workouts of my life—for exactly 12 minutes.

Rowing is an invaluable tool for runners. When you learn how to do it right it lights up weaknesses you didn’t know you had. It helps runners and cyclists find power in muscles they hadn’t used before.

Rowing is a potent weapon in an endurance athlete’s cross-training arsenal, or as a replacement for running when injuries surface. It’s no joke. It’s some serious, lung-searing stuff. When an athlete is dealing with a foot or Achilles tendon problem, often the solution lies in replacing running with work on the ergometer. For both continuity and recovery. In place of key running workouts, use indoor rowing.
It’s all about proper technique. If you don’t do it right, it’s not going to work.

While running and rowing are similar in cardiovascular benefits, they differ in the muscular workout they deliver. Erin Cafaro, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist and member of the U.S. rowing squad, said that rowing punishes the body in different ways. “In one continuous motion rowing works legs, core, back and arms,” she said. “It’s a full-body workout.”

One of the chief benefits rowing offers runners is improved posture. “Runners typically have terrible posture, leading to bad form, leading to beating the hell out of yourself.
Proper rowing helps runners develop robust midline stability to help shift running from smaller, weaker muscles such as hip flexors to more powerful muscles in the hips.

Properly performed rowing gives a runner a solid blast of cardio work, works the abs, core and lower back, and even develops flexibility in the hamstrings and calves.

Where should you start? Don’t make the mistake most runners do when they first hit the rowing machine and yank away—not only will you miss out on the primary benefits rowing has to offer, but you also might make things worse.

So, what benefits does rowing offer runners and triathletes?

Rowing machines allow runners to do a non-impact form of endurance training. If you want to be a better runner, your training should focus on running mainly. However, cross-training during non-competitive periods in the year and during recovery blocks throughout the season helps runners stay injury free and mentally fresh. Those are the key benefits of rowing for runners.

Any tips fur runners taking up rowing?

Strongly resist the urge to become a rowing specialist. This is especially true for triathletes, who tend to want to mimic the training done in the specific sub sports of their discipline. For example, very often triathletes fall into the trap of training like Masters swimmers, road cyclists and runners rather than training like a triathlete. The same intensity and inquisitiveness that leads to those miss-steps can also lead a motivated runner or triathlete to use the erg as if he is a crew specialist. This is counterproductive because it can hurt recovery. If you’re really trying to improve on the erg, it’s likely your training load will increase on the erg and will cut into your recovery, leading to decreased volumes of sport-specific training. Both problems can reduce sport-specific performance.

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Why Indoor Rowing Is Much More Than Just Cardio

The term “cardio” is loosely used to define several activities. It is important to note some cardiovascular activities hold greater weight than others despite being under the same umbrella. Indoor rowing would be one of these activities.

It is one of the more robust activities a person can use to lose weight and get stronger. Let’s take a look at why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio for those creating a meaningful workout program.

What Is Indoor Rowing?

Before looking into dissecting indoor rowing for its benefits, let’s assess what it encompasses.

Indoor rowing is completed with an indoor rowing machine or “indoor rower.” The premise of this machine is to recreate the rowing motion indoors.

An ergometer is attached to the machine to determine how much force is being expended and the artificial distance being covered. This helps shape one’s workout and progress towards established goals. Many gyms and home gyms are now filled with these machines because of how useful they are in losing weight and getting healthier.

Comparable Types Of Cardio

What are some of the comparable types of cardiovascular activities and machines one can use?

Treadmills are not as effective as indoor rowing1) Bicycle
2) Treadmill
3) Stepper

These are the three key cardio machines a person will get to see when heading to a local gym or when buying equipment for a home gym.

These pieces of equipment are fantastic, but it’s important to understand rowing machines are better. The amount of wasted force with these machines is greater than that which an indoor rowing machine will require. With wasted force comes lost potential.

Studies have shown an indoor rowing machine is far greater in getting a whole body workout.

Benefits Of Indoor Rowing

Let’s begin with the advantages of indoor rowing for those who are looking to come to grips about this activity and why it holds merit in the world of cardio. Many people feel this is the ultimate solution and far better than other activities due to these underlying advantages.

1) Whole Body Workout

Indoor Rowing Workout Rocks!
Workout Rocks!

The first benefit comes from usage. A general cardiovascular activity will get the blood pumping and heart racing. This is wonderful, but it’s not ideal when it comes to time expended. With an indoor rowing machine, it’s possible to get the whole body working out at the same time.

The movement requires force and this means the body from head to toe has to be utilized.

With indoor rowing, the body will be put under the pump, and this will extract real value from each minute spent on the machine.

2) Maximizes Muscle Retention

The one thing a lot of cardiovascular workouts tend to hamper involves muscle retention. This is the idea of losing muscle over a period of time. Instead of letting this happen, it’s better to go with a machine designed to retain muscle in the long-term.

The maximization of muscle is one of the key selling points of the indoor rowing machine.

It gets the heart racing, but it also makes sure the body is working in a manner where the muscles don’t start to lessen in mass.

3) Builds Mind-Muscle Connection

The machine does an excellent job of building an in-depth mind-muscle connection. This lets you understand your body better and get more value out of the session.

This is why many prefer indoor rowing over other activities.

It challenges the body to maintain good posture and continue the movement in a safe manner. If a person ignores this, they don’t optimize the movement. It’s a unique activity and one with a lot of value.

4) Reduces Pressure On Joints

The final benefit comes in the form of reduced pressure on the joints. There is no reason to go with a machine such as a treadmill, which can ruin one’s knees from the constant pounding. The low-impact nature of indoor rowing makes it beneficial.

These are the reasons why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio and continues to be a prime option for those wanting high-grade results in this day and age. Working out isn’t about getting up, but also making sure things are doing with a high level of care where quality results are possible.

Rowing Is The New Spinning, Here’s Why

In previous years, spinning was the workout craze. Today, It’s been upgraded to rowing. You don’t want to miss out.

Rowing machines have long been poo-pooed as too much work. However, today, the lowly rowing machine has seen a new surge in popularity. With upgrades in their technology and upgrades in style, the lowly rowing machine has finally found its niche in the exercise world. With water tanks added to give it a more realistic appearance when compared to the real true crewing conditions, the rowing machine is back with a mission. That mission, to give you the rock hard body of the Hollywood icons that you’ve long drooled over. Yes, you too can row your way to a great body all at an affordable cost. Today that lowly rowing machine is the new “spinning” and it’s working wonders on cardio and sculpting bodies. Continue reading Rowing Is The New Spinning, Here’s Why

Watch U.S. Olympians Teach Us Mortals How To Row

At first glance, rowing seems to belong to the well-heeled and faintly evil. In House of Cards the Underwoods stoically row their way into the right fitness level for world domination. The Winklevosses, those large adult twins, rowed big boats at the real Harvard and at the thinly fictionalized Harvard of the The Social Network. Before their time, way back in 1852, Harvard raced Yale in the U.S. first-ever intercollegiate sporting event. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie built a 262-acre manmade lake in Princeton, New Jersey just so the university’s varsity crew team could have a less crowded place to train.
Continue reading Watch U.S. Olympians Teach Us Mortals How To Row

10 ways to get better on the indoor rower

This is a great article written by the British newspaper The Telegraph just before this year’s Oxford vs Cambridge University boat race. There are a number of ways you can improve your performance on the Rowing Machine  and they’re not just about fitness… although that certainly helps!!

Man using rowing machine in gym

Working out in the gym can help develop your self esteem Photo: © Alamy

The Oxford and Cambridge crews will have to contend with currents, winds and the capricious British weather when they compete in the 161st edition of the Boat Race on the River Thames this weekend, but most people’s personal experience of rowing comes only from the whizz and creak of the humble indoor rowing machine.
Continue reading 10 ways to get better on the indoor rower

Training for The Concept2 2000m Test

There are always a number of questions that arise when talking about technique on the Concept2 or Waterrower rowing machines. Most beginners make the same mistake of using their arms far too early in the stroke and not really putting much leg power into the pull. These are fairly basic errors that can be corrected by getting an experienced rower to coach you or watching a training video such as this one.

This video shows some of the common mistakes

So as you improve and start to work on your 2000m times, finer points of technique start to come into play.
Where should you pull your hand to when on the rowing machine?
Afloat you have to keep the blades in and then feather, wherever that takes your hands. Low for flat water, higher if rigged for rough weather. Most oarsmen seem to keep wrists high aground too, presumably from habit.
But on a grounded erg, no need to lift wrists, it’s much easier to keep wrists flat and all in line with the chain, as Concept2 writes, so that there are no bending moments anywhere. Any extra length from cocking the wrists can only be small and at the expense of small muscle-tendon units in the forearms, so not worth it and possibly risky as noted above. Better save a little time to get in an extra stroke done full body. Continue reading Training for The Concept2 2000m Test

2K on the Concept2 – No Place To Hide!

The British Rowing team has a long and impressive history and a close connection to the Concept2 Rowing Machine. The level of training is beyond what normal human beings like you and me could really contemplate. One of the big standard tests of how good / fit you are is the two kilometer sprint on the Concept 2. All rowers of every standard dread it.  You put yourself on the line, there is no place to hide. Watch the video to see what they think of it.

The Concept2, 2K Test

There are very few sports which challenge the body as much as rowing. That said, it is a safe way to get fit as it does not harm the joints in the same way that running  does. The British Rowing team and pretty much all of the worlds rowing clubs use the Concept2 as their chosen Ergo due to the fact that it is so accurate. You can do the test at sea level in London or on top of the a mountain and the data will still be the same. Continue reading 2K on the Concept2 – No Place To Hide!

Rowing: The New Cardio

Chances are your entire cardio life has consisted of alternating stints on the treadmill, elliptical and bike. You probably thought that would be the best way to burn calories, torch fat and increase your overall fitness, right? Wrong. Turns out you should have been rowing. The oft-forgotten rowing machine burns the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time with the lowest perceived rate of exertion, while being easiest on your precious, carefully-honed body.

It’s not your fault. You didn’t know any better. And why? Well, for two reasons: First, the poor rowing machine is usually cast to the corner like an unwanted stepchild — an afterthought amidst the more high-profile cardio equipment of treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. Not very motivating. And secondly, you most likely don’t know how to use it. Continue reading Rowing: The New Cardio

Rowing Injuries and How to Avoid Them

While using a rowing machine is great exercise, many exercise enthusiasts suffer from injuries because they have been over zealous in their workouts. Some may have to stop rowing altogether. More often they have to cut back on their exercise regimen.

Using a rower to train is relatively safe form if you compare this form of exercise treadmills or cycling. However, once you ramp up to a more aggressive level of rowing including more challenging workouts, this is where injuries often occur.

The most common rowers’ injuries include:

  1. Back Pain

StatueMost rowers experience lower back pain caused by muscle fatigue from training too often, setting resistance too high, and/or having poor technique. Rowing isn’t intended to be a sole exercise program. To avoid back injuries it is important to add activities like swimming, jogging, and lifting weights. Also if you experience back pain, a solution is to lessen resistance, alter your rowing  technique, shorten workouts, and/or suspend rowing for a few days.

  1. Rib Stress

Competitive rowers may experience sharp pains in their ribs when rowing, or when breathing heavily. They may discover they have a stress fracture. The only remedy is to cease rowing immediately and wait for the stress fracture to heal. When you resume rowing add push-ups and bench presses to build strength and prevent further rib stress fractures.

  1. Inflammation of Joints

Fluid-filled sacs act as cushions for your joints. Repetitive movement of any joints can inflame the joints, muscles and/or tendons. Thus, we have Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel, and Rower’s hip, or knee inflammations. Symptoms of this injury include pain and swelling and redness when in the knee or hip. The best treatment is to apply ice to the painful area and rest until the inflammation eases. Stretch between workouts will help avoid this injury. Adding resistance training with weights to your workout is also good prevention.

  1. Blisters and Calluses

The repetitive motion of rowing often results in blisters on the hands. While blisters aren’t serious, they can be uncomfortable and can become infected if not treated and covered with sterile bandages. Wearing a good pair of non-slip gloves can help prevent blisters. Another preventative step is to make sure your oars have a well-designed handle designed for your hands. Wipe the oar handles after every workout to prevent bacteria. In time, your hands will toughen and those blistered areas will become callused. Until then, use short rowing sessions to prevent serious blisters and wear gloves.

  1. Tendinitis

Because of the repetitive arm movement, those who exercise on rowing machines or row as a competitive sport often experience muscle strains in the arm or elbow tendinitis. Poor rowing technique will increase the chances of this injury. Thus, a good preventative measure is to make sure your rowing technique is good. Making strength training a part of your workout will build muscular power to cope with the demands of rowing.

Common Causes of Rowing Injuries

  • Poor technique
  • Lack of fitness
  • Over exertion
  • Focusing solely on rowing as an exercise
  • Lack of strength training
  • Poor posture
  • Too high a resistance setting

How to Prevent Rowing Machine Injuries

  • Make sure you are physically fit.
  • Make sure your general health is good.
  • Correct any technique rowing errors immediately to prevent rowing injuries
  • Warm up thoroughly before rowing.
  • Make stretches an important part of your cool down routine.

How to Manage Rowing Machine Injuries

  • If you suffer an injury when rowing, stop immediately to prevent further damage. It is not smart to “row through the pain”. It will only aggravate the injury.
  • Seek prompt treatment of your injury. Thinking it will simply go away is dangerous and may result in chronic injuries.
  • The sooner you treat a rowing injury, the sooner you will be able to return to rowing.
  • Soft tissue injuries such as: ligament sprains, muscle strains, scrapes, contusions, and/or bruises should be treated with rest, ice, compression, and/or elevation. If you do not get quick relief from this first-aid treatment seek the advice of a health professional.
  • Do not jump back into rowing until you have completely recovered and/or your doctor gives you the green light to resume rowing.
  • If injuries have prevented you from rowing for a while start slowly and build up to where you were when you had to stop rowing.

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What are the benefits of a rowing machine workout?

If you’re looking for an exercise machine that will help you lose weight build strength in major muscle groups and maintain bone density no matter what your age or level of fitness rowing is the perfect exercise for you.  Rowing also offers those who are recovering from an injury or surgery a good workout that won’t irritate injuries or incisions.

When you row, not only your arms, legs, chest, back, and abs but also your mind gets a complete workout. The smooth, rhythmic motion of rowing and the time to let your mind wander do wonders to relieve stress.

If you have aging joints rowing offers Low-impact exercise that is easy on the knees and ankles. Rowing proceeds at your own pace. Thus, people of any age or fitness level can do it. Rowing actually improves range of motion for bodies that are aging and losing range of movement. Continue reading What are the benefits of a rowing machine workout?