Indoor rowing has enjoyed a massive resurgence over the past several years, partly due to workouts at Orangetheory, CrossFit and other boutique studios that are dedicated exclusively to rowing. It makes sense, as rowing is a phenomenal workout that delivers lots of benefits.
Even better, Octane Fitness just introduced the Octane Rō, which is designed with smart features like a quick-release foot strap and combined fan and magnetic brake resistance to enhance your exercise sessions and keep you coming back. You can find it in gyms in the U.S. starting in 2020.
If you’re not an indoor rowing fan already, you definitely should incorporate this modality into your regimen. Need convincing? Here are some reasons why you should be rowing.
Why You Should Be Rowing
- Total-body exercise – No offense to a treadmill or stationary bike, but these machines only use your lower-body muscles. Get more bang for your buck by engaging your lower AND upper body with a rower. Research shows that rowing works as much as 86% of your muscle mass – from your fingers to your toes – with about 60% of the effort from the lower body and 40% from the core and upper body. So you’ll benefit from greater conditioning, muscular endurance and muscle balance.
- Top calorie burner – Because you use so many muscles in rowing, your body burns a lot of calories. Depending on your body weight and intensity level (moderate, vigorous or intervals), you can blast about 200-400 calories in just 30 minutes on an indoor rower. Data published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise indicates that a 155-pound person rowing for one hour at a light intensity burns 246 calories; at a moderate intensity, 493 calories; and at a vigorous level, 844.
- Low-impact – While HIIT is effective, too much high-impact exercise can lead to aches, pains and even injuries, especially as you get older. Enter the rower. Just because it has a seat doesn’t mean it must be easy. While indoor rowing is low-impact, without all the jarring on the body, it still can be high intensity while you move your joints through a full range of motion.
- Stamina booster – Another reason you should be rowing is that it builds your stamina, while increasing the strength of your muscles, heart and lungs. Because the work is distributed throughout your body, you may have a lower perceived exertion – so you can work harder without the exercise feeling impossible. And without all the fatiguing effects of high-impact movement, you likely can row for longer durations, which results in enhanced conditioning.
- Stress reliever – Rowing is comprised of smooth, fluid, rhythmic strokes, over and over, which produces a “flow” for your mind and body. The fluidity of these repetitive strokes helps you get in the zone and alleviate tension, while the endorphins can stimulate energy and help you feel good. Plus, if you use an indoor rower that has a water-filled flywheel, the continual “swooshing” sound can be relaxing and hypnotic.
- Posture corrector – Thanks to mobile devices, computers and cars, many of us spend way too much time hunched forward, with our backs rounded and our heads down. Because proper rowing technique requires that you sit up straight with your head up, holding this position makes you stronger and more aware of proper posture, which can make you more likely to assume this position more often in place of slouching.
One important tip: it’s easy to have sloppy form on the indoor rowing machine. Check online or with a trainer at the gym to learn proper rowing technique to maximize these benefits.