Review/Shoppers Guide of Rowing Machines

If you are searching of exercise variety and an efficient total-body workout, the rowing machine fits your needs. Although row machines are most often used for cardiovascular, aerobic, exercise, this machine is also capable of increasing your anaerobic threshold while toning your arms, legs and core. In contrast to many aerobic workout machines that typically are leg-powered such as the cycle, treadmill and stair climber, rowers require upper and lower body involvement to burn calories and enhance your health. Plus, working out on a fitness rowing machine is low-impact. You are not stressing any joints during the smooth and natural movement. Selecting an indoor rower for year-round exercise is an ideal choice to add to your fitness routine for workout variety and fitness goal success.

What is a Rowing Machine?

Stationary rowing machines are one of many pieces of indoor exercise equipment that mimic forward moving activities. A rowing machine simulates rowing a small boat across the water. The movement is fluid and continuous as if you are racing across the lake to win a competition, not leisurely as if you are searching for the perfect fishing spot. You sit on a sliding pad that glides forward and backward on a steel frame. Your feet are positioned in front of you on a stable platform that allows your legs to bend and flex as you row. Your hands grasp a bar that is connected to a resistance such as magnets, air or water. You pull the handle against the resistance to imitate the motion of oars in the water.

What to Look for in a Rower

At first glance, rowing machines look similar. They are low to the ground with a seat, handle, foot platform and bar to grasp. Do not judge a book by its cover when shopping for a stationary rowing machine. You need to try each machine to see if it fits with your body type. Not everyone will find each machine comfortable because bodies vary in length of legs, arms and torso. If you have back pain or have a previous lower back injury, it is more important for you to test the machine before your purchase to ensure that limited stress is placed on your lower back. You can ease the stress by using proper form during the rowing activity, but a stable and supportive machine goes a long way to keeping you safe.

  • Seats- The rowing seat should be comfortable. After all, you plan on sitting here between 30 and 60 minutes a day. Spend time sliding back and forth while seated to be sure the cushion is not cutting off circulation to your legs or hips. Also, the pad should not be too soft to the point that it is not providing support for your hips and lower back. Your hip bones should be level when seated and your lower back should maintain a natural curve. The distance the seat slides should allow for a full extension and complete bend in your knees and hips so your range of motion is not limited.
  • Oar- The handle of the rowing machine should also feel comfortable in your grip. You should be able to have a relaxed grip on the handle and perform the movement comfortably. Look for a handle centered on the machine and one that allows for a full range of motion. The rowing movement begins with you leaning slightly forward to grasp the handle with your arms reaching out. Do the seat and oar line up for this to occur? The stroke finishes with your hands near to your torso and your elbows slightly behind your body. Does the machine allow for this complete action? As you move the oar, the handle, cable or chain should remain horizontal to the floor instead of moving up or down throughout the action. Pay attention to the feel of the stroke. Look for machines that are smooth as if you are gliding across a clear lake instead of a choppy ride over white caps. If the machine feels jerky or not fluid, select a different one. Be mindful of the resistance throughout each stroke. The resistance should remain continuous and not get harder or easier, until you manually increase or decrease the amount of tension.
  • Construction- While you are seated on the machine, notice how sturdy it feels. Does it wobble as you row? Does it feel as if it will last for years of use? Look for rowing machines that provide a stable base of support so you can focus on the movement and not your safety. Check the weight limits on the machine to ensure it will support you and other family members that anticipate using the machine. If you are taller, search for a rowing machine with a longer frame to comfortably fit your needs. Those who are taller may also look for a seat that is slightly higher to accommodate leg length.
  • Machine Size- Before shopping for a rower, measure the space you have available. Some rowing machines fold for easy storage, but if you plan on leaving out the machine for easy use, measure the space and size of the machine. Allow for room in front and back of the machine for flywheel spin if needed and for full range of motion in your strokes.
  • Weight- Is the weight of the machine easy to manipulate? Will you be able to move the machine or carry it to the designated space without difficulty? If you plan to leave the machine in one space, a heavier unit will work for you. However, if you intend to bring the unit out of storage every day, select one that is lighter weight and easy to move.
  • Monitor- The amount of information on the display is helpful if you have specific fitness goals. For instance, if your goal is to row 50 miles each week, you can easily track your distance. Some rowing machines display duration, calories burned, heart rate, intensity level, pace, power output in watts, stroke rate which is the number of strokes per minute and rest time between intervals. Other indoor rowers have more advanced displays that show your pace compared to a race boat, the force of each stroke, built in workouts, training tips and track workout progress. Select a rowing unit that displays the information you require to reach your personal goals.
  • Sound- Consider where and when you will use your rowing machine. Do you plan on exercising early in the morning? If so, will the sound of the machine disturb your sleeping family or neighbors who live beneath you? The sound of each machines varies depending on its construction and resistance properties. Use a machine at a store when possible to determine how loud your workout will be and if you are able to enjoy music or watch television while exercising without having to severely increase the volume.
  • Repairs- A quality machine comes with a warranty. Look for rowing machines that cover parts and repairs for at least one year. If your rowing machine breaks, you want it repaired quickly so you can return to your workout plan. Does the company offer a service plan in which you have to send the machine in or will a repair person visit your home? The answers to these questions are important because rowing machines, like any other piece of exercise equipment, may need repair.
  • Upkeep- Determine how much maintenance your machine requires. Will it need to be oiled weekly? Do you have to monitor screws loosening as you use the machine? If you select a water resistance machine, the water needs to be changed weekly to avoid bacteria growth. If your rower uses a chain, it needs to be kept lubricated. Every stationary exercise equipment needs maintenance, but you can select a rower that requires little to none.
  • Resistance type- The type of resistance is the biggest variable between indoor rowing machines. If you are purchasing a machine for overall fitness improvements, you can select a machine that has a different type of resistance compared to someone who is training for an outdoor rowing event. The resistance types also indicate the cost of the machine. The higher-quality resistance units are more expensive than the others. Rowing machines are available with 4 different types of resistance. These include:
  • Air Resistance- The air resistance rowing machines are the most common. The machine has a flywheel and fan blades. As air contacts the fan blades, the flywheel spins and creates tension. The faster you pull the oar, the greater the resistance. Some machines also have an adjustment that increases or decreases the amount of air flow to adjust the tension. Air resistance rowers are used by the novice and athlete alike. These are the most common type you find in fitness centers and can be noisy due to the air flow. For the price, air resistance machines create a realistic rowing experience that will enhance your fitness level. The American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM, cautions to look for flywheel rowers that have a protective case or mesh cover over the wheel to prevent hand injuries.
  • Magnetic Resistance- Magnetic resistance rowers use magnets to deliver resistance. The magnetic machines are quiet and provide a smooth rowing movement. Magnetic rowers are also easy to maintain and deliver precise rowing counts. The resistance cannot always be manipulated except by increasing your speed, which allows for fast adjustments, but not a dramatic increase in the tension level. A rower that uses magnetic resistance also tends to be heavier than the other machines.
  • Hydraulic Resistance- You may remember resistance training equipment that uses hydraulic resistance. These were often found in women-only, circuit-training workout facilities. The rowers that use hydraulic resistance have cylinders connected to the handles to create tension. You can easily increase or decrease the resistance level by adjusting the cylinder. A downfall, is that many of these machines focus on the upper-body aspect of rowing and limit your lower-body involvement. However, hydraulic machines are typically less expensive, smaller and easier to store.
  • Water Resistance- To most accurately simulate rowing, an indoor rower with water resistance is your best option. The resistance is not adjustable expect by your speed. The faster you move, the greater the water resistance. Water rowers are quiet and many outdoor rowers use this version due to its accuracy. The machine moves a paddle against a container of water for a smooth stroke and low-impact resistance. These machines are the most expensive option.

What Muscles Does a Rowing Machine Work?

The best rowing machine for home use provides a total body workout. Your legs provide the power to drive the seat back. This indoor rowing motion uses your Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves and Glutes.

Your Abdominals and back muscles are your core from which all movement originates. As you row and release, your core is keeping your torso upright and stable and providing a strong base to move your arms and legs. Your upper body pulls against the handle and the resistance to target your Triceps, Deltoids, Biceps, Forearms, Pectorals and back muscles such as the Latissimus Dorsi, Trapezius and Rhomboids.

Your heart is also a muscle and is trained through the aerobic conditioning of rowing. As your fitness level improves, your heart is able to pump out more blood with each contraction. This slows down your pulse while at the same time increasing circulation of oxygen and nutrients.

How Many Calories are Burned on a Rowing Machine?

The number of calories used for energy during your aerobic rowing exercise depend on a few factors. The two more important are how much you currently weigh and the intensity at which you are rowing. According to Harvard Health Publications, 30 minutes of moderate intensity rowing burns approximately 210 calories if you weigh 125 pounds, 260 calories if you weight 155 pounds and 311 calories if you weigh 185 pounds. If you are rowing vigorously, a 30 minute session burns approximately 255, 316 and 377 respectively. If you are using a stationary rowing machine for weight loss, aim to burn approximately 500 calories each day to lose one pound a week. This change does not take into account your dietary habits. If you decrease your calorie intake, you increase your weight loss results.

Rowing Machine Workout Guidelines

Wear supportive shoes when using your rowing machine. Press through your entire foot as you perform the stroke. Wear comfortable clothing that allows full freedom of movement. Select material that whisks away sweat if you are prone to excessive sweating. Stay hydrated during rowing by drinking water before your workout rowing session and sipping water approximately every 10 minutes during your workout.

At the end of your fitness rowing session, stretch your back, shoulders, arms, wrists, hips, legs and calves. This reduces delayed muscle soreness and also improves your flexibility.

As a beginner, use your legs to practice pushing away from the foot pads, but avoid going into a full extension. Try these for a few minutes to get the feel of the machine and begin to learn a new technique. These smaller, shorter movements prepare your legs for the full range of motion required to finish the Drive phase of rowing.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Purchasing a rowing machine is a major purchase. You save money to buy this investment in your health and future. As with all major purchases, it is essential to research your options to determine which indoor rowing machine is best for your personal needs. The number of rowing machines available is a perfect indicator that not all machines fit every body type and fitness need. From the weight and feel of the machine to the type of resistance and cost, you can find a machine to fit your budget and preferences.

Deciding to add rowing to your fitness routine is an effective, low-impact workout option that you can perform in the privacy of your own home. It is not weather dependent, but the skills you learn transfer to an enjoyable outdoor activity of rowing, canoeing and kayaking. Not only do you enhance your cardiovascular system, you also improve muscular strength and endurance without stressing your joints. As you exercise, you control the resistance level to meet your daily needs. For instance, if you have a lot of energy and feel strong, you row faster and harder to increase the calorie-burning and heart-health benefits. Rowing is a total-body workout to be enjoyed by those of all fitness levels. The workout is enjoyed by beginners and advanced fitness participants who are searching for workout variety and effectiveness. Select your rowing machine to fit your needs, budget and space requirements and you find an activity to be enjoyed for years.

How to Use a Rowing Machine

You have decided on your ideal rowing machine and are ready to add the workout to your routine. A rowing machine is typically used as an aerobic exercise to burn calories, aid in weight loss and improve your cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises are defined as activities that are continuous, rhythmic, use your large muscle groups and can be maintained for a minimum of 10 minutes. Your body uses fat as fuel for aerobic rowing. Fat stores are large, so your body has an adequate supply to fuel an endurance rowing workout.

In contrast, an anaerobic activity is of a shorter duration, involves specific muscle groups and cannot be maintained for more than 1 or 2 minutes. The rowing machine is beneficial because you perform the aerobic activity but can also use it to improve your anaerobic endurance. Think of anaerobic rowing as sprints to catch you up with competitor or if you have to quickly row away from a swan attack. Anaerobic rowing is a short-burst of activity that relies on sugar for fuel. Since sugar stores are not as large as fat stores, your body cannot maintain the activity for longer than a few minutes.

Make a list of your fitness goals to determine how the rowing machine fits into your plan. For instance, do you want to lose weight, tone muscles, compete in an endurance event, reduce your health risks such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure? Or, are you exercise for stress relief, to reduce chronic pain or for the pure enjoyment of the activity? Your reasons for using a rowing machine direct the type of workout you require. While you cannot change the movement of the exercise- rowing is rowing, you can change certain elements of your session to vary your training.


You can add rowing activities into your already existing workout to take the place of another aerobic activity such as stair climbing, walking, running or cycling. Rowing is also easily added into a circuit training workout as an aerobic station which will increase your heart rate and burn calories. If you are new to exercise, rowing is a low-impact way to begin training your body with a low risk of injuries. As with all exercises, check with your physician before you begin a new program. Follow your doctor’s guidance for how much activity to include in your weekly routine. As a general guideline, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, recommends most adults perform 150 minutes of weekly, moderate intensity, aerobic activity. If you row vigorously, the CDC recommends 75 minutes a week. These guidelines support average health. If your goal is to lose weight, increase the duration to approximately 300 minutes of moderate activity each week. This is equivalent to 1 hour of rowing 5 days a week.

Fat-Burning Exercise

To effectively burn fat as fuel during your rowing workout, aim to maintain a consistent stroke speed for 30 to 60 minutes. Warm up for 5 minutes at a slow pace to prepare your body for the rowing exercise session. Then, select a comfortable resistance level, if your rower has adjustable tensions. Aim to keep a steady pace between 20 and 25 strokes per minute. Begin with 15 minutes and then cool down with a slower pace for 5 minutes. As your fitness level improves, gradually increase the duration by 5 to 10 minutes each week until you are able to row for 30 to 60 minutes. If needed, pause your workout in the middle, stand up and stretch your arms, legs and back. Perform a few squats and lunges and then return to finish your cardio exercise. Always stretch at the completion of your workout to reduce muscle soreness and increase your flexibility.

Muscle Toning Workout

The goal during a muscle toning, anaerobic, workout is to row at a pace that creates lactic acid build up. You feel this as the burn in your muscles and when this happens, are unable to row again until you rest and the lactic acid moves out of the muscle cells. Choose a resistance level. For beginners, select a tension between 4 and 6 on a scale of 10. After a 5 to 10 minute warm up at a comfortable pace, row as fast as you can for 1 minute. Aim to feel the burn in your arms and legs as you maintain a pace of 26 to 28 strokes per minute. Near the end of the minute, you should find it very difficult to continue. Then, rest for 1 minute. Repeat the rowing sprint for 1 minute and try to match or beat your first sprint pace. Rest for 1 minute. Complete 5 total sprint intervals and then rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat the circuit 1 or 2 more times to tone muscles, burn calories and increase your anaerobic power. Focus on driving the stroke with your legs, using your core to sit up straight and then finishing the movement with your upper body. Stretch your major muscle groups to maintain flexibility.

Endurance Building

Improve your endurance through interval training on the rowing machine. Unlike the muscle-building workout, you will not take your work intervals to maximum effort, but you will challenge your body to make changes. Perform a 5 minute warm up at a comfortable pace. Select a medium tension level and row quickly for 30 to 60 seconds. Aim for a pace between 25 and 30 strokes per minute. Then, slow down your pace between 18 and 25 strokes per minute for an equal duration of 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat this work/rest pattern 5 times. Then, perform a steady-state row for 5 minutes at a comfortable pace and resistance. Complete another round of 5 intervals and finish with a 5-minute cool-down. As your endurance improves, add a third round of intervals following a 5-minute steady state row. Stretch your arms, legs and back when you finish.

Stress Relief

Aerobic exercise on a rowing machine provides a stress-reducing workout. Always include a 5-minute warm up, then select a comfortable pace. Focus your mind on the activity and try to not let it wander to your to-do list or the day’s events. As you row, gradually increase your pace each minute. For example, begin with 20 strokes per minute. Then, increase to 21 strokes per minute for 1 minute; 22 strokes per minute for minute 3; 23 strokes per minute for minute 4, etc. Continue this pattern until you reach 30 strokes per minute, or as fast as you can row. Repeat your fastest pace for 1 minute. Each minute after, gradually slow down by 1 stroke until you return to a 20-stroke per minute pace. If your fitness level allows, repeat the pattern 1 or 2 more times. This workout keeps your mental focus and forces you to stay in the minute. The mental and physical activity, reduce your stress and you finish your workout feeling refreshed.

Enjoyment

If you love exercise for the sake of movement and the mood-lifting benefits, your rowing machine easily fits into your daily routine. Following a 5 to 10 minute warm-up at a comfortable pace, the rest of the workout is based on how you feel, not on pre-determined durations or stroke paces. Instead, change the speed of your strokes depending on how you feel. For instance, if you have properly fueled and hydrated your system and slept well, you may be ready for a speedier workout. You can row as fast as possible until you feel you want to slow down until you recover. Then, increase your speed to a medium-pace until you are ready to sprint or relax again. As long as you are keeping your heart rate elevated, you receive health benefits and burn calories. Pull stronger or weaker depending on your energy level and mood and vary the strength of your stroke throughout the workout. Aim to row for a minimum of 10 consecutive minutes. You can even row three times a day for 10 minutes to gain a 30-minute total workout. Determine your target heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Then, multiply the result by 60 percent and 80 percent. The totals equal your target heart rate range. As you row for enjoyment and health benefits, aim to stay between the two numbers.

Rowing Set-Up and Technique

A safe and effective rowing machine workout begins with proper assembly of your equipment and proper technique. If you followed the rules for selecting a machine that fits your body type and size, you are ready to concentrate on rowing set-up and technique. Pay attention to the following when using your rowing machine:

  • Display monitor- If your rowing machine displays a variety of numbers, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and tempted to disregard the monitor. However, aim to focus on three key elements of the display to ensure an effective workout. The first is the time. This helps you track your warm-up, workout intervals, total workout time and cool-down. If you do not use the monitor for this be sure to place a clock or watch within sight. The second is your pace which is listed in strokes per minute. This is key to improving your endurance and essential if you are performing interval and steady-state workouts. Finally, look for watts which are tracking your workout intensity. Watts show how much power you are generating with each stroke. If you are of average fitness level, most likely you can perform at a watt that is equivalent or slightly more than your bodyweight in pounds. For example, if you weigh 135 pounds, aim to generate 135 to 150 watts.
  • Tension setting- many rowing machines are available with adjustable tension. Some use a damper against the flywheel while other use a hydraulic cylinder. Select your tension setting before you begin your exercise session to avoid interruptions. If you are participating in a lengthy aerobic session, select a lighter tension to avoid overstressing your lower back.
  • Foot straps- position your feet completely on the foot rest. If the machine has a strap, secure it across the top of your foot in line with the ball of your foot. Slide your foot up or down for a proper fit.
    Machine placement- place your indoor rowing exercise equipment on a flat, level surface. Allow room in front, behind and to the side of the machine so you are able to row with full range of motion strokes and can easily get in and out of the machine.
  • Oar- grasp the handle with enough tension so that it will not slip, but do not white-knuckle it. Keep your wrists straight as you row to alleviate wrist and hand discomfort. Your arms remain extended in front of you throughout the stroke. Keep your shoulders pulled down away from your ears and avoid rolling your shoulders forward. Avoid twisting or rotating the chain or cable connected to the handle. This can damage your machine or lead to an injury.
  • The Catch- this is the starting point of your movement. Once your feet are secure and you have a light grip on the handle, you are ready to begin your rowing motion. Be mindful that rowing is a continuous motion that should be smooth and not jerky. The Catch places you with your knees bent, back straight and arms reaching forward for the oar. Your shins are perpendicular with the floor with your knees over your ankles. If you are not warm, this may be a difficult position to start. As your legs warm, you find it easier to get deeper into the Catch for a greater range of motion. Do not force it at the beginning. Let it happen naturally as your muscles loosen. During the catch, you contract your Deltoids, Triceps, Hamstrings, Traps and back muscles.
  • The Drive- this is the phase in which you pull the oar through the water. Begin the Drive by straightening your legs. Keep your arms extended in front of you and parallel with the floor as the oar begins to move backward. When your legs are almost completely straight, bend your elbows and pull the handle toward your torso. Sit up tall and finish the stroke strong with legs fully extended, oar at your middle, elbows pulled behind your body and shoulder blades squeezed together. Continue to keep your shoulders pulled down away from your ears. The Drive phase engages more muscles groups including Glutes, Quads, calves, Biceps, Pecs, forearms and Abs.
  • The Recovery- during the recovery, you slide forward to begin the next stroke. Start by straightening your arms and moving the oar away from your body. Lean forward slightly and extend your arms until your hands are beyond your knees. Then, bend your knees and slide forward to the Catch position. If you find yourself lifting the oar over your knees during the Recovery phase, concentrate on keeping your legs straight until the oar is past your knees. Begin to slow down your forward movement as you enter the Catch to reduce knee strain.
  • Stroke Rate- the slower your stroke rate, the more tension is placed on your lower back. Use a stroke rate that is comfortable but not so slow that it taxes your back. If you are a beginner and find a slower stroke rate is necessary, keep the resistance level on low to reduce your injury risk.
  • Watts- the power to generate each stroke should not be immediately increased. Instead, take 3 to 5 strokes to reach your maximum watts and reduce injury to your lower back. Always warm up to prepare your muscles as you gradually increase the watts.
  • Cleaning- wipe down your machine after use as part of your regular maintenance program. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for upkeep on your rowing machine included lubricating the chain, tightening bolts and changing water.

Exercise on a rowing machine is a safe and effective indoor workout. If you have a fear of water, but love the motion, a rowing machine is for you. It also is not weather dependent so you can enjoy this activity year round. Used as part of an interval workout or for cardiovascular health, a rowing machine burns calories, uses all your major muscles and is fun. When searching for workout variety or for an at-home piece of equipment that can easily be stored when not in use, a rowing machine is an affordable option.

Summary of Top Rowing Machines

Purchasing a stationary rowing machine is not something to take lightly. Consider this a major purchase as it will affect your budget, health, space and time. Indoor rowing exercise burns a high number of calories and improves your heart-health, so it is a positive investment in your future. Finding the perfect machine that matches your body type, space requirements and finances is doable when you know what to look for. The top rated rowing machines provide a safe and effective workout in the privacy of your home. The best rowers also offer a warranty that covers parts and the frame. When searching for a home rowing machine, you also need to consider the sound and where you will use it. For instance, if you live in an apartment or townhouse, a quieter machine will not bother your neighbors if you are an early morning exerciser. In addition, if your family will be inspired by the new machine, be sure to buy a rowing machine that supports hours of daily use.

 

A fitness rowing machine for at-home use brings you an effective, calorie-blasting, low-impact workout. The benefits of rowing also include a total-body exercise that improves muscle tone and endurance. If you have not tried a fitness rower before, you are in for a treat. You feel empowered as you use your strength and force to mimic a rowing motion. As your fitness level improves and you become more efficient with your rowing technique, your strokes per minute and watts increase. These measurable improvements motivate you to continue your workouts and reach your fitness goals.

The best rowing machine for at-home use fits into your needs. Since rowers are available in a wide variety of sizes, styles and resistance types, you easily find one that fits your requirements. Measure your space first or select a row machine that folds for easy storage when not in use. If you enjoy watching television or listening to music while exercising, select an indoor rower that is quiet and uses a water, hydraulic or magnetic resistance. The air rowers offer the ability to increase or decrease resistance based on the amount of strength behind each stroke, but the noise does increase when you elevate your speed or force.

If you are new to rowing and deciding if this is something you will enjoy, select an inexpensive rower such as the Stamina 1399. You can always purchase a higher-end rower if you determine the workout fits your goals. If rowing is already a part of your current routine or if you are preparing or a competitive event, select a higher quality rower such as the Concept 2 Model D or the WaterRower Natural.

Not every rower is created equal. Every handle, seat, range of motion, foot pedal and resistance type and loudness is different. Each machine has its benefits and drawbacks so be sure your machine fits your requirements. If it is important for you to monitor time, distance, strokes per minute and watts, select a machine that tracks these measurements such as the Velocity Magnetic Rower. If a smaller space is a concern, choose a rower such as the Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050.

Always try a rower in person when possible. If you have difficulties finding a sporting good store that has the model you like, search local fitness centers and gyms and try out their rowing machines. Even if you cannot find the matching model, look for the brand you are interested in to get a feel for how the company designs their rowing machines. You will know within a few strokes whether your body is compatible with the indoor rowing machine. Also, review the weight limitations on a machine to ensure it will support your body weight.

Use caution when learning how to use a rowing machine. Maintain good posture by contracting your abdominals to support your core. Time your movements to avoid raising and lowering the handle. Remember to move your hands forward past your knees before you bend your knees and slide into the Catch position. Keep your shoulders in a neutral position not hunched up or forward. Breathe as you row to keep oxygen flowing to your working muscles. As you learn a new exercise, you may find yourself holding your breath so make a focused effort to exhale as you Drive and inhale as you Recover until you begin to breathe naturally.

Select a machine that does not require a lot of maintenance unless you are efficient at daily, weekly and monthly tasks. Review the rowing machine’s owners manual to determine how much care your machine will need. Magnetic machines typically require less care so you have time for other things. Most upkeep requires tightening of bolts, lubricating the chain, wiping sweat off the machine, tightening the seat and changing the water. As you review the rower’s maintenance schedule, also review the warranty. Rowers typically have longer warranty terms on the frames and less on the parts. In addition, consider whether the repairs are performed at your home or if you are required to transport the machine to the repair location.

The decision to purchase exercise equipment for home use requires knowledge of your fitness goals, adequate space and a budget. Compared with stair climbers, elliptical machines and treadmills that cannot be stored when not in use, rowing machines offer an effective low-impact workout plus the ability to be hidden in a closet or corner. Also, compared with other indoor aerobic exercise machines, rowers use your full body. This elevates your heart rate into a range that creates changes in your body composition and health. The rower does not jar your joints the way stair climbing and running can. Instead, the gentle pull on the handle and accompanying slide of the seat offer a smooth training environment.

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