Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Upon entering the jaws of a commercial gym. The first pieces of kit you'll usually see in their masses, are the cardio machines. Rows of treadmills, cross trainers, bikes, rowing machines, steppers, that one where you shuffle your feet up and down 2cm repetitively (never rated that one).
If your gyms a little more fancy it may even have an assault bike, a skin erg, a watt bike, curved treadmill, jacobs ladder, this list could go on forever. But, if your goal is fat loss, which one is best?
There's different opinions on this, as there's a few which are really good and it depends largely on how effectively you use each machine. However, if I had to pick one, it would hand down be the rowing machine.
1. Resistance - The rowing machine will only move if you do two things. Firstly push with your legs, followed by a pull with your back/arms. This means during a session on the rower, your body is intermittently put under tension.
Incorporating resistance into a cardio exercise means more muscles are worked, heart rate is higher, more energy needed from the body, more calories burnt and less fat stored as a result.
2. Muscle Groups Worked - There's some muscles which when worked, don't demand a lot from your body. Heart rate isn't particularly high, central nervous system is still in tact. I would class all muscles in the arms within this category.
Then there muscles which when worked, force the body to work very hard. Often leaving your head spinning and stomach churning. The main two muscles in this latter category are legs and back. Two things which take centre stage when performing a session on the rowing machine.
3. Time Efficient - If more calories are burnt when using the rower. It becomes a very time effeicnt piece of kit. You're able to get a shorter workout in whilst maximising your chances of fat loss. The only caveat... you'll be working a lot harder within that shorter time frame. 15-20 mins is usually what I prescribe.
4. Low Impact - Impact through the body can be a massive barrier when endurance training. Runners will often get joint issues in the knees, ankles and hips. Not to mention shin splints and tendon issues. All caused by the impact on your body pounding on a hard surface repetitively.
The rowing machine eliminated these issues whilst still keeping the workout intense. Runners themselves will often use low impact machines such as the rower whilst recovering from the injuries listed above.
5. Less DOMS - Studies have shown that rowers generally suffer less from 'delayed onset of muscle soreness' aka DOMS. This is down to the tension only being present during the concentric phase of the movement.
When rowing there's two parts, the push and pull away (the concentric) and the float back down (the eccentric). Usually more muscle is damage in the eccentric phase of the movement as apposed to the concentric page when the body is under tension.
However, because there is no tension present during the eccentric phase of a row, less muscle damaged and therefore you're able to row for longer with less pain the day after. Win win.
So with that info in mind, stop avoiding the rowing machine and knuckle down with your fight against fat. I'd also love to hear about your experience's on the rowing machine. Good, bad? Leave your comments below...