Listen closely. Do you hear it? That's the sound of nearly 13 million Americans enjoying the satisfying swoosh sound of their indoor rowing machine. On par with indoor cycling, indoor rowing is emerging onto the fitness scene as one of the hottest new indoor workouts of the decade. In fact, much like cycling, indoor rowing was once a forgotten fad that is now enjoying a retro renaissance — and we are here for it.
Gyms and indoor rowing clubs may be on a pandemic hiatus, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on this great exercise. Imbued with the competitive spirit of the great outdoors, in-home indoor rowing machines are the perfect way to welcome mind-centering waves and a challenging full-body workout into your living room.
Despite its popularity, many people remain out of the loop. This might be the first time you’re hearing about indoor rowing, but this fresh new workout is dripping with potential. Are you interested in bringing the essence of rowing on a calm lake and the promise of a goal-crushing, total body workout into your humble abode?
Read on to answer some of the most pressing and frequently asked questions about indoor rowing:
What is an indoor rower?
An indoor rower is an exercise machine designed to simulate the motion of rowing in water. Rowing machines use fans, magnets, or water to create resistance while the user pulls a set of handled ropes towards them to mimic the physicality of rowing. Some indoor rowers try to capture the magic of outdoor rowing with wood frames and audible water mechanisms. Many others focus on function with sleek metal frames and magnetic resistance. No matter what the style, indoor rowers are making quite the splash on the health and fitness scene.
Why should I try indoor rowing?
- It's the total package. Indoor rowing engages over 80% of your body's muscles. Back, core, arms, and legs — you name it, the rower fires it up. Rowing is truly a total body workout.
- It's the best of both worlds. Rowing is not only a killer strength-building tool, but it also does wonders for your cardio health.
- It's really low-impact — really. In a world of running injuries galore, indoor rowing provides a breath of fresh air with its minimal impact on joints and low chance of injury.
- It's versatile. With its one-two punch of cardio and strength training qualities, rowing pairs perfectly with HIIT or muscle-group specific training. Use rowing to build stamina, sculpt muscle, and more.
- It's seriously calming. Have we mentioned the meditative swoosh sounds yet? Rowers rave about the calming power of the rowing motion, the water sounds, and finding "the flow."
What if I've never rowed before?
Taking up indoor rowing may seem intimidating if you’ve never rowed before. There are many things to learn about: footholds, proper grip, catch, drive, finish, and recovery are just the tip of the iceberg. But ultimately, there's nothing to worry about! Even the most novice rower will get their sea legs in due time. Just enjoy the row.
How long should I work out on a rower?
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the US Department of Health recommends that adults do between 1 and 5 hours a week of moderate to intense physical activity, spread throughout the week. But what does that mean for your rowing sessions?
Depending on how many days a week you plan on rowing and what other workouts you have planned, remember these rules of thumb:
- 30-minute sessions at a moderate intensity, 5 days per week
- 15-minute sessions at a vigorous intensity, 5 days per week
Can I lose weight with indoor rowing?
For weight loss, you might need to double the figures mentioned above, depending on your body type and workout plan. Following The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you would need to hit closer to 5 hours of moderate-intensity activity or 2.5 hours of vigorous physical exercise. If rowing is your primary source of cardio activity, you can lose weight by ramping up your rowing at a safe rate.
How many calories can I burn on a rower?
- 250 calories in 30 minutes of moderate rowing
- 315 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous indoor rowing
That means you can row away between 400 and 600 calories in under an hour, depending on your intensity level and body weight.
What should my heart rate be when rowing?
As with any high-intensity exercise, it's best to consult with your doctor before starting a new workout regimen. However, a standard goal is to hit 75% of your maximum heart rate — the rate at which your body starts to burn significant fat. A general rule to determine your maximum heart rate is to subtract your current age from the number 220.
Should I stretch before rowing?
As with any workout, a pre-workout stretch is vital! Indoor rowing uses nearly every major muscle group, so be sure to give your body the TLC it needs with a full-body stretch before you push off from shore.
Is an indoor rower good for exercise?
Many rowers can't stop raving about the wonders of indoor rowing. Indoor rowing is a time-efficient way to melt calories and sculpt your body without putting significant strain on your body. This, along with the rower’s fun nautical vibe, makes indoor rowing an exercise trend that certainly holds water against other workouts.
Is indoor rowing right for me?
Only you can decide what workout is right for you! However, with its low-impact nature, dual strength and cardio-building capabilities, and dreamy water sounds (in certain models), indoor rowing is sure to get you into a workout flow state and definitely worth a try.
Ready to row, row, row your way into better shape? Try indoor rowing for a retro, imaginative, and memorable workout unlike any other.
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Have you seen the new fitness mirrors?
One of the most compelling reasons to get a fitness mirror is to save space, which is one of the biggest obstacles to getting larger home fitness equipment. But these mirrors can also keep things fun. A fitness mirror gives you lots of options and lets you tailor workouts to the equipment you already have, such as kettlebells or resistance bands, as well as goals you've set.
You can do virtual workouts with a class or even hire a personal trainer to lead you through individualized virtual workouts in real-time. Keep yourself visually engaged while working out, and you're much more likely to want to repeat the experience!
Our experts reviewed one. Read their review here.