Welcome to this edition of The Best Piece of Equipment in 2020. This edition has a special place in my heart because it highlights one of my favorite pieces of equipment.
The rower is one of the most widely used pieces of cardio equipment in fitness competitions, as well as studio and class-based gyms. It offers many benefits that are unique to the rower alone. Today we will be looking at three different benefits that the rower has to offer, why it is a must-have for your decked-out home gym, and what we consider to be the best rowing machine in 2020.
Benefit #1 - Works Nine Major Muscle Groups
Unlike any other piece of cardio equipment, the rower incorporates and activates nine major muscle groups in the body. Activating all of these muscle groups provides additional benefits like calorie burn and central nervous system activation.
Before moving to those additional benefits, I must highlight the significance of the muscles that are being activated.
Due to the simplicity and technological advances of modern life, we do not move enough. Many of us work desk jobs where we are at a computer for eight hours per day. Even if we’re not staring at a screen, odds are we’re still sitting down and reinforcing bad posture.
Due to all of the sitting, the muscles on the backside of our body (posterior chain) don’t get worked enough. A lot of these muscles are the muscles that we need to keep out posture sound. The rhomboids are a great example. The rhomboids are the muscles between our shoulder blades that are responsible for pulling our shoulder blades together. When executing a row properly on the rowing machine, the “drive” portion of the movement will activate your rhomboids to help bring your shoulder blades together and row the handle closer to your chest. Performing a row over and over during a session with solid form can help reinforce good postural positioning, alleviating pain that may stem from days and days of sitting and standing with rounded shoulders. I don’t know about you, but pain from bad posture doesn’t deserve to play a role in my life.
In addition to reinforcing good posture, the rower may also help you tap into more of your strength potential. When we perform strength exercises, our central nervous system needs to communicate to our muscles how much they must contract.
Think of your CNS as the amplifier and your muscles as the speakers. Your speakers will only produce as much sound as the amplifier will allow. Your muscles will only produce as much force as your CNS allows. It is said that most people can only tap into 50-65% of their total strength potential. Elite strength athletes can reach 95% of their total strength potential. There’s no need to be an elite strength athlete but learning how to use more of your strength potential can improve your fat loss and/or muscle building goals. Learning how to “drive” (the first portion of the movement) properly while producing as much force as possible may allow your body to tap into more of your total strength. When searching for the best rowing rowing machine in 2020, I recommend the Hydrow as it is a new, innovative rower with Live Outdoor Reality (LOR) with workouts led by world-class athletes.
Benefit #2 - Calorie Burn
As you may know, weight loss is all about calories in vs. calories out. In order to lose weight, you must be burning more calories in the day than you take in. There are many different factors that play a role in CICO (calories in calories out) like metabolism, genetics, activity, digestion, etc., but one of the factors that is most in our control is the amount of calories we burn in the day.
Incorporating nine muscle groups in one movement can help burn additional calories during your rowing session. Muscle is an expensive tissue, meaning it costs more calories to maintain and operate than other forms of tissue, like fat. Incorporating nine into an intense rowing session may contribute to more calories burned, which can help you manage your calories out especially if weight loss is one of your major goals.
Benefit #3 - Time Effective
Not many people know this, but the row is actually a very technical movement. It is possible to get on the rower and just row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, but if you want to get the most out of your rowing sessions, you must learn how to execute the movement properly.
Learning proper form and execution will help you see that this is a movement that produces a lot of force, and the force output cannot be repeated over and over and over. This means that getting the most effective workout may cause for a shorter session with small breaks thrown in.
This is the basics of high-intensity interval training. HIIT calls for periods of work and periods of rest. In order to produce the most force during the row, your CNS and muscle will most certainly need some rest.
A straightforward HIIT format can look like this. Row forcefully with proper technique for 20 seconds, and rest for 40 seconds. Repeat this for a total of 12-15 minutes. HIIT workouts do a great job of burning calories both during and after exercise. For additional rowing machine workouts, The Hydrow streams live, challenging, and on-demand workouts from waterways around the world.
I don’t know about you, but 12-15 minutes sounds a lot better than an hour.
Although the rowing machine has a bit of a learning curve in comparison to just hopping on the bike, the small amount of time invested in learning how to row properly will reap many rewards that can benefit your health and fitness goals. You’ll reinforce great posture, learn how to tap into more of your total strength, and burn additional calories with shorter workout times.
If you’re interested in learning more about what we consider to be one of the best rowing machines in 2020, the Hydrow, contact your nearest fitness equipment expert to start your journey today!
ABOUT THE AUTHORAdam is a fitness professional, baseball fan, and cookie fanatic based in Fort Collins, Colorado. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. As an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, he is constantly moved to help people improve in all walks of life.