When you think of the rowing machine benefits, you tend to think about exercise to the arms and perhaps the back, since these are the parts of the body that appear to be working the maximum when a person is rowing. However, as professional rowers, trainers and coaches would testify, the benefits of using a rowing machine extend to the lower body as well, providing a wholesome workout. In this article, we’ve summarized some of the major rowing machine benefits, so you know what you will be getting in return for the grueling hours you put in.
Benefits to the upper body
Since the rowing action makes extensive use of the upper body, it is but natural that a significant part of the rowing machine benefits go to the upper body. Firstly, the strong grip on the handles requires strength. While this may cause blisters for beginners, in the long term this is rewarding, since it strengthens the wrist and the arm in general, which is highly beneficial if you’re participating in sports that require a strong grip like mountaineering, weight lifting, etc.
Further, the arm does a great job as well, with biceps, pecs, and abs being steadily strengthened as a result of the rowing motion which requires repeated extension and contraction of arm muscles. However, the major rowing machine benefits go to the back, with the trapezius in the upper back, the lats in the lower, and the rhomboids of the shoulder being put to severe tests. However, experts advise that the back is also the area that suffers most if the method of rowing is incorrect, so you should carefully study how to use a rowing machine before trying it out yourself.
Rowing Machine benefits for the lower body
While upper-body effort in rowing is obvious, what is not so apparent is the effort it takes from the lower body. This is especially the case with machines that have a sliding seat, allowing your thighs and legs to move your upper body in the process. The primary beneficiaries of this motion are the quads in the front of the upper thighs along with other leg muscles. However, the calves and glutes (buttock muscles) are also involved and hence benefit from the rowing routine in no small measure.
Good burning of calories
Given that the rowing machine provides a workout to both the upper and lower body, the rate of burning of calories is much higher than that of say a treadmill or a cycling machine, both of which provide lower body workouts only. In fact, an hour of intensive rowing can burn around 600 calories, which is equivalent to about 1 hour and 18 minutes of intensive cycling, assuming of course that in latter there is no use of arms.
Among the major benefits which accrue from the workout of a large number of muscle groups spread out throughout the upper and lower body, are the cardiovascular benefits. Blood flow to these muscles naturally increases, and over a period of time, this leads to a major improvement in overall blood circulation in the body.
Another major benefit of the rowing machine is that it improves the oxygen uptake of the body, and this is further improved by the increased blood flow. Since during a workout greater amount of oxygen is needed to burn the calories to release energy, the intake of oxygen through the lungs rises. This oxygen is then rapidly taken to various parts of the body to produce the necessary amounts of energy. Combined together, they lead to overall cardiovascular improvement of the body.
Minimal Amount of Risks
One of the benefits of rowing machines is that their center of gravity is lower than almost all gym machines. This means that there is a far lower chance of the user falling off the machine while rowing. Further, if one does fall off, the fall is short, as compared to a fall from say a cycling machine. Though you can logically argue that the amount of effort needed from the lower back is extremely high and can cause a back sprain, it should be noted that overall the risks from both improper use and fatigue of muscles are lesser in rowing machines. Finally, the rowing procedure makes minimal use of the joints, so chances of damage to joints are also minimal.
All these rowing machine benefits can come, however, only if you carry out the procedure correctly. Further, you should remember that if you’re suffering from any health complications which do not allow you to undertake rigorous workout routines, then it is advisable that you consult your doctor before trying out a rowing machine. On the other hand, if you’re confident of your ability to undertake heavy exercise and follow the proper procedure, you can expect to get all the above rowing machine benefits.