These 6 reasons to take up rowing are tough to argue with. As painful as it might feel while you’re in the seat, you can hold your head high knowing that you’ve targeted every major muscle group in the body in just one simple but effective workout.
It’s low impact
Unlike running, rowing doesn’t overload your weight-bearing joints. ‘There’s no shock or force going through your knees,’ explains Clare Holman, an indoor rowing master trainer for British Rowing. ‘The movement is more fluid and the positioning is better than with cycling – you don’t put your legs through as many rowing strokes per minute as you do cycling revolutions.’ This makes it good for those who are new to exercise, who may be returning after an injury or period of inactivity or who are carrying extra weight.
It involves both cardio and resistance training
This means you’re building muscle while raising your heart rate. Government guidelines recommend two strength-training workouts in addition to 150 minutes’ moderate-intensity activity each week, so this is a time-efficient way to hit those targets.
It boosts metabolism
‘The rowing stroke works 85% of the muscles in your body across nine major muscle groups, including your back, shoulders, glutes, legs, arms and core,’ says Clare. ‘You can burn around 300 calories in 30 minutes. The strength training creates an afterburn, too – your metabolism continues to burn more calories in the hours after your workout.’
It strengthens and tones you all over
‘It’s a common misconception that rowing will give you broad, chunky shoulders,’ says Clare. ‘In fact, you generate most of the power from your legs and glutes. Your arms, shoulders and back will get nicely defined, but they’ll be in proportion.’
‘You can do a long, steady session (like rowing for 30 minutes), incorporate rowing on the machine in a circuits routine with other equipment and exercises, or do high intensity interval training (HIIT),’ says Clare.
It helps you build confidence and regain your fitness rapidly
Helen Glover became a mother in August 2018, and is a huge advocate of indoor rowing as a workout for busy women. ‘The indoor rowing machine was a big part of my training for the Olympics and World championships, but it’s also the best way to stay fit and active now that I have less time to exercise,’ says Helen, who fronts the British Rowing campaign #SheRows.
Want to take up rowing? Find out how to nail the perfect technique before your next workout.