Rowing is a great cardiovascular workout, and lots of our members love our rowing machines, but there are a lot of misconceptions about rowing so here are a few things you need to know before your next row!
Myth 1 - rowing is the best thing for building strength and muscle tone
The most important thing to remember is that this is a cardiovascular exercise, so the part of the body it's working is the heart and lungs. If your aim is strength and muscle tone, you should be focusing on resistance exercise (remember that both are important). Yes, there is an element of resistance but it is not the primary benefit of rowing. People often think the same thing about swimming - there is resistance, and you will improve your muscles, but ultimately it is a cardio exercise.
Myth 2 - A high damper setting will give you the best workout
It seems logical that by increasing the resistance will make the workout more effective, however, in reality having the damper lever at a lower level means that the challenge is to apply power combined with speed. By having the damper setting too high the 'boat' slows down too much between strokes and so the emphasis is on strength - as we said before, this is not the point of a cardio exercise. The best rowers in the world usually have the damper at around level 5, so with respect, you shouldn't have it any higher than this!
Myth 3 - The higher the stroke rate, the better the workout
Ok, this is where we start to get a bit technical. The thing we are aiming for, to get the best workout is cadence. Travelling up and down the track without generating power does very little for your fitness. This is the equivalent of taking very quick shallow breaths - what you should be doing is filling your lungs. Power is created by the flywheel in the rower spinning. You stroke rate should be no quicker than 30 strokes per minute trying to create as much power as possible.
As with just about any exercise, remember that technique is the most important factor to get good results followed by how much effort you are putting into it. Things like how fast you are going, how much weight you are lifting or how many sets and reps you complete are just tools for us to control these first two elements and should not be the goal.
If you would like some pointers or help with rowing (or any exercise for that matter) please come and speak to one of the team and we will be happy to help you out!