The rowing machine is an excellent choice for getting a great cardio workout while working the entire body. You work the legs, arms and core while building endurance in the heart and lungs. Many people shy away from rowing machines at the gym, unsure of how to use them or how get a good workout. Just some rowing machine benefits include:
Adjust Your Machine
Sit on the rowing machine (the seat should slide back and forth) and place your feet into the foot pedals. The heels should be secure against the back of the pedals with the straps tightened over the top of the feet.
Set Your Resistance
Some rowers have adjustable resistance while others offer air resistance (the most common at many gyms). With air resistance, the rower has a flywheel on the front of the machine that draws in air as you pull back on the handle. The faster you row, the more resistance you create. If you happen to have a rower with a different type of resistance, set it at a low level if you're a beginner.
Choose Your Workout
Depending on the machine you're using, you may see a monitor that comes on as you start to move. From there, you can choose a workout based on distance, time or choose from any custom workouts that have been programmed into the machine. If you're not a rower and don't know meters from a hole in the ground, start with a manual setting so you can set your own limits.
Start the Movement - The Catch
The rowing motion starts with the 'catch.' To begin, hold the handle in a comfortable grip with the palms down. Your knees should be bent and vertical to the floor with the chest close to the thighs. Make sure your back is straight and your abs are engaged. It's easy to hunch forward and round the shoulders in this position, so pay attention to your posture.
During the 'drive,' you push into the foot pedals to extend the legs while rowing the bar in toward the abdominals. Pull the elbows back until they're just past the torso with the handle about an inch from the bellybutton. You may lean back a bit at the end of the movement, but avoid arching or hyperextending the back.
Return back to starting position, bending at the hips rather than hunching the back over the knees.
If you're a beginner, start with about 10 minutes of rowing, gradually adding time each week as you get used to the movement. You can do it alone or add it on at the end of your regular cardio workout. More about rowing workouts.