Decided you’re going to exercise seriously but bored of treadmills or bicycles or elliptical? Get the best rowing machine and start rowing now!
Types of Rowing Machines
Below are five different types of rowing machines, where you can find the difference in terms of the level of resistance:
1) Air Resistance Rowing Machines
Favored over many other rowing machines, this type of rower gives you a smoother row, allowing you to feel as though you were rowing outdoors in the open water. Resistance is generated by a fan or a propeller. This means, the harder you pull, the greater the resistance. So, you can get a better work out through the combination of both aerobic and a total body strength/ tone training.
If you have less space in your home, find models that can be folded as air these machines are typically long. Oh and if you’re environmentally conscious, it’s a machine that fits the bill and which won’t burn a hole in your pocket as it does not use much electricity!
2) Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
The advantage over the air resistance rowing machine is it is quieter and offers an easy level for beginners. The magnetic resistance rowing machines tend to be chosen by casual or first-time rowers while the air resistance rowing machine is usually chosen by professional and competitive rowers. Beginners also like the silent rowing action as they can watch the TV or listen to music at the same time.
The downside is the higher the tension, the higher the amount of electrical energy consumed by the electromagnets. So if you’re not looking towards high electric bills in the long run, this may not be the rowing machine for you.
3) Air and Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
As the name itself says, this rowing machine is a combination of air resistance and magnetic resistance. This means, you have the freedom to choose any of these options when you want to work out.
Present features are different weight capacities, programmable settings and tension adjustment, the air/magnetic resistance rowing machine is basically the combination of the features mentioned above in the air resistance rowing machines and the magnetic resistance rowing machines.
4) Piston Resistance Rowing Machines
Whoever said rowing is only a luxury item should check out Piston resistance rowing machine. It serves another purpose for those who live in small flats/ apartments as the smaller size take less space.
The downside is that as it is small and might not suit tall people. Serious rowers usually do not buy this as they do not give you the satisfaction of a full elongation.
5) Water Resistance Rowing Machines
Water resistance rowing machine can mimic the real-like rowing function, just like the air resistance rowing machine. Even though they are foldable (ideal for storage purposes), they are better in terms of letting you enjoy a full rowing motion. It is also quieter and good for building high levels of stamina.
A common issue noted by serious rowers is that it is not as efficient as the air rowing machines. A final point is that it is more expensive to buy although the different frames make them look attractive.
How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine
So now you’ve decided to buy a rowing machine but you are swamped with too many choices! Ultimate what you buy will depend on your needs.
Here are 10 key questions which should get you cracking on the right direction:
1) Have you tried rowing machines before?
Ideally, before you buy the machine, you should try it for several minutes to check the smoothness of the rowing motion and the seat’s comfortability.
If you have been using it at a gymnasium, ask yourself whether you want a similar model.
2) How often will you use the rowing machine? Casual or serious rowing?
If you are not going to use it very often, your best bet would be a foldable rower (e.g. hydraulic machine)
If you are not going to use it that often, a lower-priced machine should last you a good number of years even if it’s mediocre
3) Do you have constrained space?
If yes, you’ll be looking for a compact/ foldable rowing machine (e.g. hydraulic machine). Also remember, the noise generated if you’re in a confined space of walls. To appease your neighbours, the magnetic rowing machine is a good option for silent rowing
4) Don’t forget to check the weight limit for the rowing machines!
This is a common mistake! Remember to check the safe weight limit before buying the model that you want. If not, even the warranty given will be invalidated.
5) Where to put the rowing machine?
Check if you have room with good ventilation to maximize your work-out sessions. Some rowers like to multitask with music/TV or radio
6) Easy adjustability of rowing machine?
If somebody else apart from you will use it, look out for the adjustments for the seat and foot pads.
7) Do you need a workout monitor?
The monitor/ computer is usually an extra feature which could add much more to the price. It’s good if you’re serious for training as you can keep track of your progress from the computed distance covered, time spent and stroke rate.
8) Does the rowing machine have different levels of resistance?
Most rowing machines have this feature but it would be good to double check. Regardless of what level you’re at, you are bound to improve. Want something hardcore? Air resistance and air/ magnetic rowing machines offer good total workout.
9) How much can you afford to pay?
Rowing machines are usually expensive. Balance whether you will gain more from buying a rowing machine or paying for the gym membership (e.g. hydraulic rowers, while lower priced, are generally for infrequent rowers)
10) If not, should you buy second hand?
Still want to row seriously but can’t afford it? Before you scoot off to your nearest second-hand shop, check for excessive usage (e.g. loud noise when rowing, seats and food pads)
Normally, second hand machines will be in better condition from private user than from a gym as the level of usage differs to a large extent.
Why do I need one?
As a personal trainer, I realized many of my clients were interested in picking up rowing but always hesitate whether to get a rowing machine. Are rowing machines only meant for off-season rowers? Not at all! Anyone can use rowing machines to develop your muscles. While it is easy for anyone to learn how to use the machine, most people use the machine whether it is for training or for low impact exercises. Don’t just look at rowing machines review. First, determine whether you are getting it for the right reasons:
- Stay in shape
- Lose weight
- Tone your major muscles
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Improve endurance
- Increase strength
- Greater flexibility
- Competitive training
- Less strain on joints
- Physiotherapy to recover from injuries
How to Use a Rowing Machine
Many people I see at the gym appear to have no idea how to use a rowing machine properly. It’s important to learn the proper use of use of rowing machines, because you can experience immediate benefits from the exercise, as well as protect yourself from unnecessary injuries that can occur through over exertion and muscle strain. Used correctly, you are sure to enjoy your workout on an indoor rower if you get things right to begin with.
With that in mind, let’s go over the basics of how to use a rowing machine.
How to use a rowing machine begins before you ever get on the machine itself. It’s important to first stretch properly to prevent muscle strain. Also, setting too high of a resistance on the rower will cause your upper body muscles to tire too fast, preventing you from getting a full cardo workout.
Rowing machines are made to replicate the actual exercise made on water, and with a little practice can be very easy to use. (Just as a side note, rowing machines are sometimes referred to as ergometers or erg-machines.) Since the idea behind a rowing machine is to simulate rowing a boat, you generally will sit on a bench and, leaning forward, take hold of the provided “oar” handles with both hands. The key here is to grip the handles properly. A proper rowing grip is one that is firm, but relaxed.
The muscles used with rowing machine exercises are put under a lot of stress, so you need to be sure and use proper form to ensure that you do not put too much stress on your muscles, or work them unevenly in an attempt to compensate for a lack of strength. Also, avoid trying to incorporate other muscle groups that are not optimally used in the motion of rowing.
Improper use of a rowing machine can also isolate all the pressure in your lower back, causing discomfort or even injury. To avoid straining your back, use only your leg and hip muscles when rowing. Seasoned rowers know that injuries can cause serious setbacks in training, and the same is true for beginners. At the very least, if you use the rowing machine improperly, it will be an uncomfortable exercise that will not motivate you to stay on your training routine.
Once you have a proper grip on the handles, pull slowly and get a good rhythm going for two to three minutes before beginning to really push for speed and distance. After your allotted time of “power rowing”, if you will, give yourself another two to three minutes of slower rowing as a cool-down period.
In summary, a rowing machine offers a great full-body workout that tones muscle and burns fat. Firming up those biceps and triceps may be the easiest of the muscle groups to tone. Rowing moves your body through a wider range of motion than most activities, stretching your muscles and rotating your joints. Since these exercises involve every muscle you need to develop, they are very effective in improving the heart that improves the health condition of the person.
So strap yourself in and start rowing your way to a better body!
Safety Tips when Using a Rowing Machine
Like all exercise, do be careful not to over-exert or to exercise in the wrong technique.
Before you row, tick off from this checklist:
- Check with your doctor if it is safe for you to undertake rowing
- If possible, look at the manual for rowing and get a trainer for proper techniques
- Start off with easy rowing to warm-up your muscles
- Slowly build intensity and add time into your program. Start with a few minutes and add to it each day
- A good target will be between 24 and 30 strokes per minute
- There are a few positions/ techniques in general when it comes to rowing
1. Catch Position/ Starting position
- Take a seat and strap your feet firmly onto the foot pads
- Grab the handles, extend your arms straight while keeping your wrists flat
- Slide forward on the seat but stop when your shins are vertical
- Bend forward slightly at the hips Follow the starting position: extend your arms straight and keep your wrists flat
2. Drive Position
- Extend your legs and push off from the foot pads
- Keep your core tight, straighten your arms and keep a firm back to transfer the power to the handles
- Bend your arms and lean your upper body back as you straighten your knee
- The motion ends with a slightly backward lean
3. Finishing Position
- To pull the handle into your abdomen, bend your elbows and extend your legs
- Just lean ever so slightly to the back from your hips
4. Recovery Position
- Straighten your elbows and your arms will extend automatically
- Follow that by leaning forward from your upper body
- Slowly bend your knees to slide forward, coming to the starting position
Now that you have learned the techniques, watch out for common mistakes:
- Leaning too far back or leaning too far forward can cause back pain
- If you keep your arms loose, that will jerk the handle back and will not let you strengthen your arms fully
So what’s the secret to rowing beautifully?
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Don’t rush, take your time to improve. Geniuses aren’t made in a day
- Don’t let your legs laze around. Get them rowing, not just with the arms!
As you can see from the above, it’s not about achieving the perfect technique in a minute or in a day. Start slowly, focusing on technique instead of brute strength. Don’t work-out intensely in your first session as your muscles may not have time to adapt. That might result in a backlash, with too sore muscles or strained muscles, which will be worse as you might have to put practicing rowing on hold for an even longer period of time.
All sports take time to learn but rowing is easy to progress once you have picked it up!