How A Rowing Machine Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

When you first start out with any fitness program, there’s no question that you have certain goals you want to obtain. Keeping these goals in mind and knowing your ‘bigger picture’ is important for success. Sometimes people get too caught up in tiny details like whether they finished a single workout session and let this sway their results.

If you fall off the bandwagon because you were too tired to complete one workout and figure you might as well not even bother, you are guilty of this issue exactly. You need to realize that one workout is not the be-all and end-all of your fitness program performance.

So this said, let’s take a look at how rowing can help you reach the bigger picture – your end goals. In almost all instances, no matter what your end goal happens to be, rowing can help you see the results you are looking for.

Weight Loss

One of the primary reasons that many people sign up for a workout program is to help lose weight. We all know that exercise burns calories and in order to melt fat off our frame, we need to eat less and move more. Therefore, it only stands to reason that any cardiovascular workout session is going to help you achieve success.

And, rowing is the perfect fit here. In fact, it’s one of the best options you could do. This is because with rowing, you are working both the upper body and the lower body at once, which means more total muscle fibers are being stimulated and more energy is being burned.

The higher your calorie burn in any workout session, the greater the potential fat loss results you’ll get from it.

The Workouts You Should Do:

In order to maximize your fat loss, I’d recommend you focus on interval training. These short but very intense workouts help to not only increase your calorie burn during the workout itself, but also elevate your resting metabolic rate for hours to come after the workout is completed as well.

You may not be able to do all of your sessions interval training style as that would just lead to overtraining syndrome, but at least a few per week should be.

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

The next goal that you may have is improved cardiovascular fitness. The good news here is rowing helps out tremendously with reaching this goal. Again, any type of cardio training – or activity in general – that gets your heart rate up and keeps it there is going to assist with maximizing your cardiovascular fitness level.

If you row with a good deal of intensity, your heart rate will rise significantly and this will go a long way towards giving you the boost you need.

The Workouts You Should Do:

To improve your cardiovascular level, you want to focus on a few different types of workouts. You’ll want to build good cardiovascular endurance with some longer, lower intensity sessions. Think 45 minutes at a moderate pace where you can have a conversation with some trouble.

Then you’ll also want to do tempo training. This is a 20 minute workout that has you exercising at an intensity level that you can just barely maintain. Here, you will struggle to hold a conversation, but you could utter a few words as needed. The idea of this training is that it helps teach your body to exercise at a higher intensity level and deal with the fatigue byproducts that develop.

Finally, interval training should also be on your list. This style of training improves your VO2 max level, which is how much oxygen your body is able to use at higher intensity levels. It’s also a key component of having good all around cardiovascular fitness.

Enhanced Strength

Another goal that many people state they have when beginning a fitness program is enhanced strength. Now, normally the best route to improve your strength is to perform a weight lifting workout program. Weight lifting is going to have you working against maximum resistance, forcing your muscles to grow stronger.

If for whatever reason you can’t perform weight lifting however, or perhaps you already are but want to also ensure that your cardio training is in line with your goals, then rowing is a perfect solution.

With rowing, you are working against a good deal of resistance, and you’re also going to be targeting your back, biceps, quads, hamstrings, and glutes very well. These are all major muscle group that will respond wonderful to this type of training.

The Workouts You Should Do:

To build strength, you’ll want to focus on shorter workout sessions using as high of a resistance level as you can. You can still do longer duration workouts, sprint training, and any other workout, but your primary goal should be to add more resistance, not necessarily add speed.

Improved Power

On the flip side, if you want to improve your speed and power, which may very well be the case if you are also involved in other athletic pursuits, then you’ll want to hop on the rowing machine as well.

The nice thing about rowing is that it allows you to really engage those fast twitch muscle fibers as you explode from the starting position upwards and complete the rowing rep.

You just can’t do this as well if you are using the treadmill or elliptical for instance, so that does tend to give this type of exercise mode an edge.

Power is a combination of strength and speed so that is what you are looking to focus on in this workout session.

The Workouts You Should Do:

To see best results, you’ll want to focus on explosiveness. This means setting the resistance level to a harder level but not so hard it dramatically slows you down.

As you do the workout session, you’ll be pressing off the starting position as quickly as possible. Think power from this low point. Then return to the starting position and repeat it all again.

Increased Lean Muscle Mass

If you are someone who is hoping to increase your lean muscle mass, weight loss is the opposite goal you have. Many people who want to build muscle think that cardio training is not something you should even consider doing, however there are many pros to adding some cardio in while you focus on muscle building.

First, it can help keep you leaner as you build muscle as it keeps the fat burning pathways open in the body. Second, it maintains your cardiovascular fitness level so you don’t become so winded when you get to rep eight of twelve on your lunges, and third, it also helps to reduce lactic acid build-up from your strength training sessions, reducing post workout muscle soreness.

The Workouts You Should Do:

If you want to use rowing to help build muscle, there are a few rules you should follow. First, don’t go too intense. You’ll already need to be doing intense weight lifting workouts, therefore your cardio sessions should be done to a lower intensity.

Two, don’t go overboard. You don’t need to do an hour five days a week. Three sessions of twenty minutes is plenty.

And third, make sure that you are eating enough. Remember that to build muscle, you need to be in a calorie surplus and now since you are burning more calories with the cardio training, you will need to add even more calories to your day.

Don’t miss doing this or you won’t see the muscle building results you are looking for.

Reduced Stress

Finally, if your goal is to simply reduce stress with your workout program, rowing can assist as well. It’s a very mindless exercise if you want to it to be as it doesn’t take a whole lot of coordination and once you get into the flow of things, it’ll happen quite naturally.

This can allow your mind to wander while you get the feel good endorphins rushing through your body that help combat stress.

Most people often state that after a good workout session, they’ve found resolution to their programs. This is why.

The Workouts You Should Do:

To get the best stress reduction benefits from your rowing sessions, you want to exercise at a constant intensity but one that is intense enough you are challenged, but not so intense that it’s taking all of your mental energy just to complete the session and keep going.

This puts you at an RPE of about 6-7. That is the sweet spot for combating stress and getting those endorphins flowing.

So keep these points in mind as you design your rowing workout. No matter what your goal happens to be, with a few tweaks in your workout programming choices, you can accomplish those goals and feel great about the results you are seeing. Feel free to mix a few of these session types together as well if you have more than one goal that you are working toward.

Photo credit: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock; Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock; Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

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