Best Rowing Machine Training Tips

Rowing for Men

Man with OarMuscle formation and stamina increases with rowing – perfect for men!

Conventional fitness equipment primarily focuses on either the individual parts of the body or specific muscle groups; however, this is not the case with rowing. Rowing is a total body workout, where both cardio and strength are equally trained. Strong resistance at regular short periods will help grow your muscles. Especially the back, arm and leg muscles and the stamina are trained with the help of Rowing. However, training for longer periods improves endurance helping protect you from many diseases that often occur in untrained people of the same age.

Rowing for Women

Rowing workouts tone the individual body parts and burns calories – perfect for every women.

Rowing, not only offers an optimal training for men, but slowly more and more women are also discovering the benefits of rowing for workouts for both muscle strength and aerobic fitness. In contrast to a treadmill or cross-trainer, the rowing machine stresses the whole body. In particular, legs, arms, shoulders, stomach, and the back are functionally trained. Such a strengthening full body workout boosts post training calorie consumption and therefore helps reduce weight.

Motivational Tips

Lose weight & get fit!

Training for longer periods with a lower resistance setting will deplete the body’s glycogen (sugar) stores eventually forcing the body to use fat as its primary source of fuel. An even better way is to do a resistance training session first and then do 45 mins (or more) cardio. The effects will impress you. Through the weight training, you are working the glycogen out of your blood and liver (about 2000 calories). This means that once you get on to the rower, you are already closer to using the fat stores.

Burn calories easily

  • Be fit and confident
  • Harness the positive effects of power and endurance combination
  • Lose weight and get a taut body

The After Burn Effect

The other advantage to resistance training for weight loss is the so called “after burn effect”. Training will inevitably put your muscles into stress. Resistance training causes tiny tears in the muscle fibres which your body will need to repair. This requires energy, which is fuelled through the burning of fat in the presence of oxygen. This after burn can last up to 14 hours post training. Training on a rowing machine, by its very nature, will always involve resistance training in more muscles than any other cardio machine in the gym.

Build & Strengthen back muscles!

If your rowing machine training focus is more towards building muscle, you need to concentrate on high-intensity workouts of short intervals. Set the resistance level on the machine set to its highest level and keep your stroke frequency fairly low – 16 to 20 strokes per minute will do. Do one short session of around five minutes and then follow this with a brief recovery phase, which may include gymnastics or light rowing exercise. Then, repeat the training again with high resistance and low stroke frequency for another ten minutes. As a result, this makes the body reach its peak performance level and therefore initiates the body muscle development. Your efforts will soon payoff and will show results.

  • Build-up muscles and get rid of back problems.
  • Total body workout by extensive resistance
  • Combination of strength and endurance

“Men Vs. Machine”

Many rowing machines come pre-programmed with various training modes, which make the workout more diverse. For instance, on magnetic rowers you can set a variable resistance mode which creates an interval type training. A fun and motivational way to challenge yourself is Race Mode. This duel of “Man against Machine” pushes you to maximum performance levels. It’s a good way of testing your fitness level and as you improve and become stronger, you’ll become more tenacious, competitive and confident.

  • Duel against Computer
  • Varied Training Modes
  • Varied Training sessions

What distinguishes a good Rowing Machine?

It all depends on what sort of training you want

One can do an entire body workout with a rowing machine. More than 80% of the total muscles are involved in this motion sequence. In particular, shoulders, upper arms, legs, calves and also the stomach, back, and the buttocks are the areas being stressed. The rowing ergometer is an ideal solution to bring energy and stamina in form. Consequently, there is a huge variety of equipment available on the market. The range starts from low-cost products for around $200 to high-tech rowing machines costing more than $1000.

Generally, rowing machines come in two different variants. In few machines, both the rowing arms can be pulled individually and independently, while in the other the ropes can be pulled with both the arms simultaneously. The two independent rowing arms try to simulate rowing in water as realistically as possible. This does not add anything to the training effect and this system is usually more prevalent in the cheaper models. Much more effective is the single handled ergometer which is the preferred type for all serious rowers.

The braking system makes all the difference

One of the important factors in terms of quality of a rowing ergometer is the braking system.

Hydraulic Cylinders

The cheap hydraulic cylinders are not recommended anymore. They have a short life span and they can also damage the muscles and the tendons because of their non-fluent movements.

Magnetic Rowers

The rowing ergometer with a magnetic braking system, eddy current brakes are better. The brakes are applied through a number of permanent magnets, respectively by an electromagnet. Consequently, the rowing movements become smoother and the computer can vary the resistance automatically during training.

Air baffles

Air baffles are the preferred system for top-end rowers and these are found in most boat houses in the shape of the Concept2 rowing machine. There are any number of copies of this, but the C2 is still the best mostly due to its extremely accurate computer.


There is only one system that uses water as a brake and that is the WaterRower. These are very beautiful machines and have a lovely sound of water when you pull. The big disadvantage is the inability to change the resistance easily given that you have to alter the water level in the tank to do this. However, if you are looking for one to use in your living room, they are quiet, look good and are easy to store standing up against the wall.

Budget and Quality

As with most products, rowing machines vary enormously in the quality of build. Usually the price is a good indicator, but you can only compare price with similar machines. The best on the market are probably the Concept2 and the WaterRower, but there are plenty of mid-ranged rowers such as the Kettler Kadett or the Bodycraft VR100, which can also fit the bill as well as the pocket.,

What size of Rowing Machine do you need?

Well-built and overweight individuals must be careful in selecting a rowing machine as the lower cost machines can usually only cope with a maximum weight of 100kgs (220lbs). Most high-end machines can cope with large and heavy people, but it is always good to check before you purchase.

If you are very tall, make sure that you also check on the length of the slide rail. Again, the top-end machines are built for rowers, and these athletes tend to be large by nature. The Stamina Body Track Glider may be a reasonable budget machine, but don’t even consider it if you are in the “oversize” category!

The Computer / Monitor

One important factor to consider with a rowing machine is the computer. As stated earlier, the Concept2 is renowned worldwide for the accuracy of the measurements it takes. So much so that it is possible to compete online regardless of whether you are in a humid environment or at the top of a mountain!

As you would expect, most computers will give you the important information such as stroke rate, distance covered, watts / speed, calories consumed etc. Some machines give you various training options that will challenge you and also entertain you a bit more than just sitting and rowing at the same pace. I guess the most fun is racing a virtual boat against your personal best. Talk about motivational.

The Best Fitness Machine?

Hans Ulrich Schmied 1970
Hans Ulrich Schmied in 1970

For all the reasons stated above, the rowing machine must be considered one of the best pieces of fitness equipment in the gym. It will increase your lung capacity, strengthen your heart muscle, improve your circulation and build muscle throughout the body. The other big bonus is that when you go to the gym, even though there is only one rower in the whole room, it is almost always free. Maybe other people are ignorant of how effective it is. Maybe they don’t know how to use it correctly or perhaps they are simply too lazy to do a proper workout. Whatever the reason is, take advantage of this fact and row yourself fit!