Y ou hear your physician, your trainer, and a lot of sports freak influencers talking about how you need to move more. They are right. Today’s society is all about comfort, and it seems easier to just get home after a long day of toiling at your office and hop into bed with a bag of chips. Your brain loves being fed fats and sugars and the idleness of watching pictures on the screen without having to do a lot of thinking. In this scenario, physical exercise is pushed away, and it becomes easier for people to turn into vegetables walking around with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
Individuals who have decided to trade this lifestyle for a healthier one made a compromise: they would not lose time going to the gym, but they would instead use a home gym machine to stay in shape. And, it may come as a surprise, but the rowing machine was one of their favorites over the past years, the main motive being that it offers a full-body workout while keeping them gripped.
The paybacks of rowing at home have been proven by recent research work. For instance, this study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that regular use of a rower can enhance the quality of life in breast cancer survivors, while this study from 2014 analyzed the impact of rowing on muscle functions, showing that muscle mass is improved.
In this article, we will explore the drives that compose a rowing stroke and the muscles each of them engages, so stay with us to see what is happening to your body when you are doing one of the most engaging activities that can be performed at home.
The quick answer is YES. If you’ve got a good rower and you are determined to use it three to four times a week, you will not need any other machine to help you get ripped. The secret of this type of cardiovascular exercise is that it leaves no important muscle on the outside.
It promotes the same low-impact type of training as a Pilates reformer, which means that the effects are not visible on the spot, but in the long run, the advances are enormous. Nevertheless, there is one extra condition you need to obey to see the big transformation you are expecting: eat and live healthier. This means swapping the chocolate bars for carrots and the fries from McDonald’s for a home-cooked low-calorie meal.
Although the rowing stroke is meant to be fluid and may not seem to integrate so many steps, it is quite complex, and it is extremely important to be aware of the 4 phases and how they should be executed to complete the exercise correctly:
This is the preliminary pose when you sit on the seat while it is fully slid to the front. Your shins should be perpendicular to the floor and your knees bent. Your torso’s position should be leaned toward the front.
Here is what is happening to your body at this point:
Tip: Your legs are the most important in the movement you are about to start, so make sure to push into them instead of transferring all the pressure to your arms.
It is the first dynamic move and is often seen as a transitory state between the Catch and the Finish. During this stage, the legs extend, and the torso switches from an 11 o’clock position it found itself during the Catch to a 1 o’clock position.
Most of your body is engaged, but the focus is put on the following muscle groups:
Tip: To confirm you are doing this phase correctly, try to watch yourself in a mirror while performing it. Do you look like the athletes you’ve been watching on TV? Or do you hunch too much? Correct your pose until it looks good.
Your rib cage is in a 1 o’clock pose, and now you need to pull the handle in the direction of your sternum. The muscles that contract at this stage are:
Tip: When you get here, check in a mirror, at least for the first times, to see if you are sitting straight. If you are slouching on one side, correct your position.
This is an inverse development to the Drive and will get you into the original locus. You are retracting your knees and bowing your torso, driving the handle onward, and this also implies the use of a lot of muscles:
Tip: Don’t rush your movements. Athletes know how to temperate their movements so they aren’t out of breath before finishing the competition. Do the same.
While it is clear that a rower will put all your body to work and can help you become healthier and stay this way, this isn’t the only advantage it offers. Rowing is a complex exercise that is fit for a wide range of individuals and can bring great health improvements, as we are about to explain.
This makes it a great choice for individuals who suffered an injury or have problems with osteoporosis, as the movement takes place horizontally and not vertically, thus spearing their joints from the pressure. Even for a healthy person, specialists warn that high exposure to exercises that put a lot of compression on the joints can lead to their deterioration in time, so if you are not rowing exclusively, you can try to combine moderate-impact exercises with low-impact options. This is believed to be the optimal combination to avoid gym-related injuries.
Even if it is a low-impact type of workout, it stimulates the expending of calories with excellent results in the long run. This study from 2015, which was carried out on 16 visually impaired men and 4 women, showed that regular rowing decreases fat mass and total body fat percent considerably, reducing the effects of scoliosis, which tend to be common with this impairment. If combined with a healthy diet, the results can be astonishing.
In general, any type of sport can help you fight stress, but what rowing brings to the table is meditation. Once you learn the moves, you don’t really need to be there, but you can think of more profound things like the meaning of life or the importance of culture. Many studies have shown meditation to have an extraordinary effect on dealing with stress, so this may be the best way to get your mind clear after a very busy day.
Last but not least, your lung capacity will expand, and your heart will become healthier, as the exercises stimulate blood flow and help send nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. The experts recommend this type of activity for people at risk for heart problems, as recent research enterprises have shown that rowers have bigger and stronger hearts, which helps them avoid circulatory illnesses for longer.
It is always difficult to get started with a new routine, but if you are determined and manage to bear through it for three months, behavioral psychologists say that you will no longer be able to live without it. A rowing apparatus will work your entire body without putting pressure on your joints, which makes it a great pick, expressly if you know your hips or knees to be more fragile. Getting in shape is easier today than it was in the past, and you don’t even need a trainer, as most machines come with monitoring systems that count your strokes and track your heart rate.