All posts by Craig

Why Leaving Rowing Out of Your Workout is a Big Mistake

In terms of training value for time spent, there is little that comes close to rowing. It is a cardio, it is anaerobic and it is strengthening. By building rowing in to your CrossFit workout instead of running, you will be increasing the intensity and effectiveness of your training session several fold.

To understand why this is the case, it would be helpful to take a bit of a look at the body’s energy pathways and how they are used in a CrossFit training session.

An energy pathway, is the means by which the body delivers energy to the muscles, which can be converted into work by their contraction. Energy is released into the muscle fiber when a phosphate molecule is released from Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to form Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP). There is not a lot of ATP in the body (only about 250g), so it constantly needs to be recycled. An ATP molecule can be recycled between 500-750 times a day and it is estimated that one’s own body weight of the stuff will be broken down and recreated in a single day.

So, the processes by which ATP is recycled are what we are talking about when we refer to energy pathways.

Regeneration of ATP Energy from Food!!

In order for the body to be able to reuse this chemical reaction, the phosphate molecule that was released to produce energy needs to be reattached to the ADP to form ATP again. This chemical process is done in two basic ways, with a third concerned only with energy release.

Anaerobic Respiration Pathway1) The Anaerobic System: As the name suggests, this is the chemical process that takes place in the absence of oxygen. “An” meaning without and “aero” meaning air. Most of us have hear of aerobic because of the type of training often offered in gyms. Many of us will also have heard of anaerobic training, particularly body builders and athletes.

Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple! We still have to split anaerobic respiration into two separate types: The ATP-PC System and the Glycolytic System.


1a) The Anaerobic ATP-PC System is at the opposite end of the scale to Aerobic respiration. It is responsible for short burst activity such as jumping up onto a box or swinging a kettle bell up to vertical. During the first few seconds of an activity, ATP supplies the energy. It is immediate and can last approximately 12 seconds. For a few seconds after that, the rapid decline of ATP is cushioned by phosphocreatine (PC) before the cell turns to another energy pathway, namely the glycolytic system.

1b) The Anaerobic Glycolytic System fills the gap between the ATP-PC and oxidative (aerobic) systems. The sugar glucose, which is obtained from dietary carbohydrates and is stored in the blood and liver, is broken down into ATP by the process of glycolysis. The by-product of glycolysis is pyruvic acid, which is converted into something most of us have heard of, namely lactic acid.

The process of glycolysis comes in two flavors – fast and slow. Essentially, the fast version can run for up to 30 seconds resulting in acid lactic acid accumulation, a drop in power and subsequent fatigue. Slow glycolysis doesn’t produce as much power, but extreme fatigue is avoided for longer. Here, the pyruvic acid is converted to acetyl coenzyme A, run through the oxidative Krebs cycle (see below), which produces more ATP, which delays fatigue.

For example, a 400m sprinter would come out of the blocks using the ATP-PC system and run most of the first bend on it. After that, ATP stored in the cells would run out and the fast glycolysis system would kick in. As the lactic acid starts to build up half way round the second bend, the runner grits his teeth whilst the cells desperately start reproducing ATP through slow glycolysis.

Aerobic Respiration Pathway2) Aerobic (Oxidative) System is the lowest intensity and slowest process. Without getting too technical, it basically requires oxygen to break down glucose, fat or protein in the blood to form ATP. At its very core level, this is the system which operates when you sleep. As long as you have glucose, fat or protein available, it is virtually unlimited.

In terms of sport, the aerobic system will first use carbohydrates (glucose), which in a healthy adult is around 2500 KCal. Once this is depleted, which will happen during a marathon for example, the system will turn to fatty acids and then to eventually as a last resort to proteins.

One important technical term to note is the Krebs cycle, which is the chain of chemical reactions that continues to oxidize the glucose that was started during glycolysis. This process ends up by recreating ATP with a by-product of hydrogen, which is then converted to water by more chemical reactions and the electron transport chain. Phew!! So, bio-chemistry lesson over!

So what does this all mean in terms of CrossFit training?

The first thing to note is that through appropriate training, the anaerobic systems can be improved by 20% and the aerobic system by a massive 50%! Top rowing athletes spend a lot of time on the ergo training at a low level to improve their base aerobic systems. One would think that given the intensity of a race and the inhuman levels to which they push themselves, it would be best to train at a high output all the time.

The problem with this approach is that, as we have seen above, the glycolytic energy pathway is only good for around a minute at a push. Improving the efficiency of the Krebs cycle at oxidizing glucose into ATP is therefore essential for intense sports such as rowing the 2000m.

Essentially, the rowing machine will cover all these bases. Throughout your circuit, you can add in short 30 second intense bursts, which will push your glycolytic system to its limit throughout most muscle groups. At the end of each circuit, you could do a 10 minute aerobic cruise giving your oxidative system a good half hour in a three circuit session. Alternatively, you could build a fartlek interval training sub-session on the rower into each round keeping all three systems on the alert. The possibilities are endless.

The major advantage of rowing over other types of training is the “whole body” nature of it. CrossFit endeavors to cover all major muscle groups in a multiple of strength related and aerobic manners. Bringing a rowing machine into the circuit will enhance the intensity of both the strengthening aspects as well as the aerobic aspects of the session for almost the entire body. Also, by varying the speed and load of the machine, it is possible to activate all the energy pathways described above, giving you a more complete workout.

How to Improve Your Rowing Technique

Have you ever watched somebody row well and felt frustrated that the meters — or the calories — seemed to fly by for them and not for you? Do you cringe when the workout of the day involves rowing? If you are nodding yes to either of these questions, keep reading. Understanding the rower, combined with better technique, can help you start turning your weakness into a strength – today.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

Regardless of damper setting, you have to apply greater force if you want your “boat” to go faster or accumulate more calories.

Obviously, jumping onto a Concept2 Rower is not the same as rowing a boat on the water. However, if you approach the rower as if it is a boat, you may be better able to change your technique accordingly. Do you see Olympic rowers jerking the oars unevenly, shorting their hips on the pull, or taking quick, furious strokes? The total opposite, actually, regardless of the type of boat or the number of people rowing. Concept2 Rowing explains:

Think of the Indoor Rower as your boat. If you row at low intensity you can row for a long time. To make the boat go faster you pull harder; and if you try to make the boat go very fast you will be exhausted in a short time. Air resistance on the flywheel fan works just like the water resistance on a boat.

Now that you are thinking in terms of a boat on the water, let’s examine the effect of the damper settings 1-10. In the lower numbers 1-4 the feel of the Indoor Rower is like a sleek racing shell. In the higher numbers 6-10 the feel is like a big, slow rowing boat. Either boat can be rowed hard; and as you try to make either boat go fast, you will need to apply more force. Making the sleek boat go fast requires you to apply your force more quickly; and when trying to make the big boat go fast you will feel a high force but at a slower speed of application.

Damper Settings

No doubt this is apparent if you have ever played with the damper setting on a machine. What, then, determines how much work you are doing (in meters, calories, or watts)?

As you are moving forward for your next stroke the monitor measures how much your flywheel is slowing down. It can determine precisely how sleek or slow your “boat” is by how much it slows down between strokes. It then uses this information to determine from the speed of the flywheel how much work you are doing. In this way your true effort is calculated regardless of damper setting.

Did you know? The ideal stroke rate is 22-26 strokes per minute (s/m).

If the flywheel hums along steadily due to your consistently smooth, strong pulls, you will produce more work. The ideal damper setting for every individual is different, but it should be where you achieve the highest output levels.

Breaking Down the Rowing Stroke

There are two components of the rowing stroke: the drive and the recovery.

The Recovery (Phase 1)
  • Extend your arms until they straighten.
  • Lean your upper body forward to the one o’clock position.
  • Once your hands and the oar handle have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and gradually slide the seat forward on the monorail.
The Catch (Position 1)
  • Arms are straight; head is neutral; shoulders are level and not hunched.
  • Upper body is at the one o’clock position—shoulders in front of hips.
  • Shins are vertical and not compressed beyond the perpendicular.
  • Balls of the feet are in full contact with the footplate.
The Drive (Phase 2)
  • With straight arms and while maintaining the position of the upper body at one o’clock, exert pressure on the foot plate and begin pushing with your legs.
  • As your legs approach straight, lean the upper body back to the eleven o’clock position and draw the hands back to the lower ribs in a straight line.
The Finish (Position 2)
  • Legs are extended and handle is held lightly at your lower ribs.
  • Upper body is at the eleven o’clock position—slightly reclined with good support from your core muscles.
  • Head is in a neutral position.
  • Neck and shoulders are relaxed, and arms are drawn past the body with flat wrists.

The drive is the work portion of the stroke; the recovery is the rest portion that prepares you for the next drive. The body movements of the recovery are essentially the reverse of the drive. Blend these movements into a smooth continuum to create the rowing stroke.

A good rowing cadence, or tempo, is 22-26 strokes per minute (abbreviated s/m on the monitor).

Rowing Video Demos

For the drive of the rowing stroke, mimic a horizontal power clean: drive with your legs through your heels, open your hips to full extension, and pull with your arms last.

Shane Farmer of CrossFit Rowing talks through the rowing stroke with Cody Burgener as his model at his home box,  CrossFit Invictus. He advises athletes to focus on three aspects of rowing:

  1. Drive: Engage your legs first, swing your back open, and pull your arms at the end into the finish position. He & Cody agree that as with power cleans, once the arms break, “the power ends!”
  2. Recovery: Because your legs are responsible for ~75% of the drive, they need 75% of the recovery, too. Be patient on the recovery and bend your knees last, after you have re-straightened your arms and leaned forward.
  3. Catch: This is the transition between the recovery back into the drive. Farmer advises thinking about the turnover “one inch” before the catch so your legs get ready to drive again.
In the simplest of terms, Jason Khalipa at CrossFit Santa Clara describes what good rowing should look like by comparing the rowing stroke to a sumo deadlift high pull and/or a power clean. He emphasizes a strong cadence (“hard drive…recover. hard drive…recover”) and thinking about moving in straight lines. In the drive, legs push back, hips open (while maintaining a straight back), arms finish; to recover, arms straighten, hips close, and knees bend last.

Avoiding Common Rowing Errors

Practice! From the finish position, try drilling arms-only rowing, then add in a hinge at the hips to practice body & arms rowing.

As with Olympic lifting, there are many different places within the rowing stroke that a technical error can occur — all of which lead to a loss or lessening of power and efficiency. Again, Concept2 Rowing provides a comprehensive list of fixable mistakes, sorted by body part:

Arms & hands

  • Over gripping the handle: Keep your wrists flat through the stroke with your hands comfortably wrapped around the handle.
  • Breaking arms at the catch: As Shane & Cody pointed out above, an early break means the power ends.
  • Chicken wing arms: Elbows should finish pointed straight back, not out to the sides, with shoulders in a relaxed (not hunched) position.


Your back should maintain a strong upright position throughout both parts of the stroke.

  • Lunging at the catch: To avoid this, establish the lean (torso at 1 o’clock) early in  your recovery, before the knees bend, and maintain it until the drive begins again.
  • Over-reaching at the catch: Your hands do not need to reach out excessively toward the flywheel in the catch position, as this causes your back to round and pulls your shoulders forward.
  • Lifting with the back at the catch: Press through the drive with your legs, then lean back after your hips open. Lifting with your back also makes the chain pull back unevenly, and you want a smooth, horizontal pull.
  • Excessive layback: Your torso does not need to go past 11 o’clock in the finish position.

A drill to correct some of these errors? As the recovery begins, pause with your arms straight and torso at 1 o’clock, then finish the recovery. Repeat for several strokes to establish a good back position.


  • Bending knees too early on recovery: This forces you to lift the chain to avoid hitting your knees; keep the chain level throughout both the drive and the recovery.
  • Rushing the slide: Instead of going too fast toward the catch, remember to straighten the arms, close the hips, THEN bend the knees. Rushing the slide implies an incorrect de-loading order.
  • Over compressing: This can happen at the catch — don’t let your shins go past vertical.
  • Shooting the slide: This is the equivalent of driving your legs back without taking your body with you (like raising your hips before your shoulders in a deadlift).

Two suggestions for avoiding these errors:

  1. Count your cadence out loud on the drive and then the recovery; the latter should take longer.
  2. Practice a legs only row (no pull) in order to feel the load order of legs first before the hips open.

Rowing Machine Review Tidbits: Getting “Down the Stream” Faster

Improve Your Fight Gone Bad score

The CrossFit Rowing Blog explains how he gets 20 points (or more) from rowing alone during Fight Gone Bad: To allow for the transition time of getting strapped into the rower, he moves from the push press early to get a full 60 seconds of rowing in (averaging 1500 calories or more) — which equates to 7 or 8 extra calories.

Getting into indoor rowing is great for CrossFit. To figure out which is the best rowing machine to choose, check out the rowing machine reviews here.

Original article from the now defunct website

The 30 Minute Rowing Machine Workout

The rowing machine is one of the most effective yet most neglected pieces of equipment in the gym. The reason for this probably that it takes a bit of practice to get the technique right, but it is essential that you do.

Have a look at this before you begin: and then spend a bit of time trying to break the stroke into its four components. The biggest mistake I see people make is using the arms too much. The stroke starts with the legs, then the back and finally the arms. The recovery, that’s the way back, goes in reverse – arms away from the body first, then lean forward and bend your knees until you are all the way forward to the beginning. Once you’ve cracked it, you will be training your whole body during a cardio session. There are very few machines that can offer that!

There are of course many different workouts that you can do on any cardio machine. In the boathouse, during the winter season, we often row at a low level for up to two hours to build a deep core aerobic fitness. This will be coupled with strength training on the other days. In the race season, much more time is spent on the water with a few short session on the ergo to work on strength endurance. The workout I am going to share with you is a pyramid session, which is where the intensity builds to a peak and then drops off again towards the end and is designed to build on strength endurance.

Before you do this workout first make sure that you have spent a few gentle sessions on the ergo making sure that your technique is up to scratch. Get the trainer in the gym to watch you and give you advice. You should set the monitor up so that you can read strokes per minute (SPM) and pace over 500 metres.

Set the resistance to somewhere in the middle range and then row for 15 minutes at a level which makes you breathe a bit harder but where you think you could keep going for an hour… the equivalent to a gentle jog. Try to keep the stroke rate down to less than 23 SPM at the same time a pushing enough with the legs to keep the pace up.

This is your staring level – take note of the pace over 500m and the SPM.

The 30 minute pyramid workout

Set the resistance to a middle range – 5 on a Concept2. You will begin at your starting level and row for ten minutes. At ten minutes, up the pace by 5 seconds per 500m. After two minutes, up the pace again by five seconds. Do the same four more times, to take you to the 20 minute mark. Keep this up for one minute and then start to slow down again, dropping the pace by five seconds every two minutes until 30.

Here is an example. Let’s say that your starting pace is 2 minutes 20 seconds for 500 metres (2’20” / 500m). You would warm up at this pace for 10 minutes then increase to 2’15” /500m until minute 12. Keep increasing by 5 seconds every 2 minutes until minute 20, where you will be rowing at 1’55”/500m. Keep that going for 1 minute and then drop the pace back down to 2’00”. Keep dropping by 5 seconds every two minutes until 30 minutes are up.























This is a cardio workout that is best done after a short session on the weights where you are working more on chest and shoulders than back, legs and arms. It will not only improve your stamina, but also give you the ability to workout harder for longer as it concentrates on strength endurance. I would build this into your usual routine twice a week for six weeks and then change your cardio to another machine for six weeks. Keep changing your plan every six weeks to encourage the body to develop muscle through different planes of movement and also to prevent cardio session becoming predictive and stale.

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Workout

Lacking motivation often causes people to not reach their weight loss goal. The following are some ways for you to make exercise more enjoyable and successful.

  1. Turn on the radio while you are working out. Music will get you moving. It is natural for people to respond to music. When you feel as though you’re dancing to a great song rather than exercising, your workouts will be much more entertaining. When you listen to music while you are working out, it will be fun, and you will be able to keep going. Incorporating music into your workout routine can make time fly by faster so you exercise for longer.
  2. Working out with a friend is ideal. Your attention will be diverted from the effort of the exercise to the conversation at hand, and your workout will go by much quicker. You will be pleased at how much you will enjoy exercising when you do it with a friend.
  3. Distract yourself, and your workout routine will fly by! One option to consider if you have a video gaming console is fitness-orientated games. There are many types of these games. In a game, you might enjoy a number of things like bowling or steering a boat while working out. Boxing with a virtual opponent will be a riot. Video games can make your workout almost effortless, no matter what type of exercise you prefer.
  4. One of the main things that puts someone off working out is the fact that they are doing it ‘in public’. When you have workout clothes that you feel comfortable wearing, it is a huge boost to your self-image. There are a lot of choices for people of all shapes and sizes. There are also tons of colors and styles. Be fun with your choices in exercise clothing, as it will help you feel great about exercising and yourself! Doing this will make you more likely to stick to your workout plan. Continue reading 7 Ways to Spice Up Your Workout

Dynamic R1 Pro Rower Review

If you are looking for a rower with very strong resistance for your home gym application, then the Dynamic R1 Pro Rower will be of great help to you. There are so many rowers in the fitness industry that one may be confused on which one to try on. Some use water, air, magnet or hydraulic for creating the resistance. In this case, the Dynamic Fitness R1 pro Rower has been designed with a dual resistance system of both air and magnet. This means that you will experience a quieter rowing experience and multiple resistance levels from the electromagnet resistance, and a water-like resistance type from the air resistance.

This rower is of great value for both beginners and experts rowers who are seeking a full body workout. The muscles involved include the legs, shoulder, biceps, triceps, and abdominal muscles, flexor muscles of the fingers, gluteal muscles and the calves.


The Dynamic Fitness R1 Pro rower has been built and designed with quality. The seat is made of aluminum to support every size and minimize breakages or falling apart. The handle is attached to a nylon strap while the foot pedals and foot straps are also constructed from a durable material.

The rower is 97” longer, 17.7” wider and 42.6” high and weighs at 83 pounds. The seat is lifted 19.5” off the ground.


Dynamic R1 Pro rower is a multi-level resistance system with combination of both air and magnetic resistance. The air resistance system works by pulling the handle and spinning a fan flywheel. Resistance is created when more air is brought into the flywheel causing the spin to be faster. Generally, the faster you row the machine, the more resistance you get. Like the air resistance system, the magnetic resistance works by pulling the handle and spinning the wheel. A magnet is located inside the flywheel that either moves closer or farther away from the flywheel and thereby creating resistance. It does not produce a noise effect like other resistance types. Moreover, the resistance remains constant independent of the rowing speed. There are 16 levels of magnetic resistance that can be adjusted using the multi-control monitor.

Combination of these two resistance systems results in a smooth and strong rowing stroke. Although the air resistance can be a bit noisy, the magnetic resistance is quieter and sets in to reduce on the noise levels as opposed to an ‘air only’ rower. The combined resistance is reasonable in rowing as the user can feel the high-end power of the air and the low-end power of the magnetic.

Assembly and storage

Dynamic R1 Pro RowerDynamic R1 Pro rower is easy to store and assemble. Assembling takes less than an hour but can be a challenge if you have not read through the directions carefully.

When not in use, you can fold your machine and store it to minimize on the space. Folding involves pulling the lock pin, folding the seat rail up and allowing the pin to lock in space. This costs you less than 10 seconds. Folded dimensions are 54” by 18” by 63”

The built-in caster wheels facilitate the mobility and portability of the rower as you move it around for storage.

Multi-control monitor

The monitor is quite user friendly and enables you to monitor and track your workout on every row. The display shows the time, split time, strokes per minute (SPM), distance covered in meters, calories burned, pace, watts, pulse and the resistance level. These data are controlled by 6 buttons identified as: start/stop, up, down, recovery, reset and enter.

The monitor has an adjustable arm to enable you position it in a convenient angle that will make it easier for you to read. It is backlit, and therefore lets you read through the display even when it is dark. The menu lets you effectively manage various features such as presetting workouts, games or language settings.

Some of the monitor’s training options include;

  • Manual mode, that lets you set your own target and achieve it. You can select on distance, calories or time and row till you achieve the target.
  • The race mode lets you compete against the computer basing on distance and split time.
  • User mode, that lets you choose up to 5 different user programs to be stored on the monitor.
  • HRC mode is for selecting a target heart rate to maintain throughout the workout.
  • Profile mode lets you choose up to 12 different profiles based on fitness metrics.
  • Watts mode is for selecting a desired watt level to apply during exercise levels.

Rower capacity

The Dynamic R1 Pro rower weighs at 83 pounds with a capacity of 300lbs. It can actually accommodate anyone with up to 350lbs but much more than that can overburden the machine and probably malfunction. Moreover, both short and as tall as 6.6” people can comfortably fit in this rower and still have some space remaining.

Comfort when rowing

Dynamic R1 Pro RowerThe design of the Dynamic R1 Pro rower ensured that the seat is large enough and it glides on the lightweight aluminum rail. It is very soft, hence minimizes on any pressure to reduce back pain. The seat is 19.5” off the ground to enable people with joint problems to get on or off the rower with ease.

The handle is soft for a comfortable grip with natural hand position all through the workout session. The nylon strap attached to it eliminates any noise resulting from rowing.

The adjustable foot pedals are large enough to accommodate foot widths and shoe sizes.


  • Anyone who is used to air resistance rowers will find this rower less noisy.
  • The foot pedals are adjustable and can accommodate any shoe size.
  • Easy to set up and assemble
  • Strong resistance from both resistance systems
  • Multi-function monitor
  • Foldable for convenient storage
  • Has a maximum capacity of up to 380lbs.


  • Although the magnetic resistance system is not noisy, the air resistance system is. Therefore, this rower will produce some noise due to the combination of the two.
  • The monitor has to be powered by an electrical outlet so as to power the magnetic resistance. This means that the rower may be of little value in case the monitor breaks.

Thanks to Daniel for this review. You can find him at The Fitness Crab  in Toronto.

Poor Old Lactic Acid – the Pain is Not His Fault!!

Lactic acid gets some pretty bad press, but it doesn’t exist in the body for more than a few seconds. It is quickly converted into lactate and hydrogen ions and it is these little guys that drop the pH in the muscles making them acidic and painful. This article from World Rowing explains more..

Lactic acid has been cast in the role of nemesis, as the necessary evil to higher athletic performance; not just in rowing, but in many sports over the years. The scientific knowledge, however, has advanced in recent decades and lactic acid seems to play a more complex role than is often assumed.

“First of all,” explains Dr Trent Stellingwerff, lead of Innovation and Research at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, “we should call what we are measuring lactate and not lactic acid. Within the muscle, 99 per cent of the lactic acid (LaH) separates immediately into lactate (La-) and hydrogen ions (H+). It is the H+ that is the problem.”

“Lactate is both fuel and metabolic waste product,” says Alex Hutchinson, author of the Sweat Science articles for “The body has different ways of mobilising its fuel stores and it all depends on when you need the fuel.”

“When you are performing over your V02 max (maximal aerobic capacity),” says Stellingwerff, “you have to draw on anaerobic metabolism to provide the required energy. A 2000m rowing race is done at 98 to 110 per cent of power at V02 max. This is why rowers produce so much lactate.”

“Professional marathoners, by comparison, run at 85-90% of V02 max and would probably never have a lactate measurement over 4 mmol (millimoles),” he says, “but in rowers it can be around 15-18 mmol and sometimes even a bit higher.”

Measuring lactate, however, is an indirect measure, since it is not the lactate itself that causes the acidosis (or drop in pH inside the muscles). The hydrogen ions (H+) produced with the lactate cause the drop in the muscle’s pH. Normal pH in the body is 7.2, but can drop as low as 6.6 if it were to be measured in rowers after a race, according to Stellingwerff. Continue reading Poor Old Lactic Acid – the Pain is Not His Fault!!

The ultimate guide to the rowing machine

These Olympian-approved workouts and techniques are guaranteed to get you in killer shape without killing your back.

YOU MAY HAVE noticed a rowing machine, otherwise known as an ergometer or “erg,” gathering dust in the corner of your neighborhood gym or as Frank and Claire Underwood’s workout of choice in House of Cards. If you’re a CrossFitter, there’s a good chance you’ve probably even used one in a workout before.

There’s also a good chance you’re using it all wrong.

While the rowing machine is an incredibly efficient, full-body workout that allows the athlete to build aerobic endurance and muscular strength at the same time, a lack of proper technique and training is common among gym-goers and can lead to injuries and misuse. So we asked experts from the number one collegiate men’s crew team in the country at the University of California – Berkeley—Head Coach Mike Teti and Associate Head Coach Scott Frandsen—to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about the rowing machine. Both are Olympic medalists (Teti is both a medalist as an athlete and a coach) who know exactly what it takes, in the gym and on the water, to get in gold medal-winning shape.

In order to get the most out of your time on the rowing machine you should: Continue reading The ultimate guide to the rowing machine

Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine

Amazing value for a magnetic resistance rowing machine at just over $200.

Sunny Health and Fitness are very good at producing good pieces of gym equipment at very reasonable prices. The Magnetic Rowing Machine with Adjustable Resistance by Sunny Health & Fitness – SF-RW5515 is no exception to this trend. If fact, the price is so low, it’s almost silly!

So what about the machine? The assembly is very straightforward and simple and only takes about 20 minutes.

Unlike air baffle rowers such as the Concept 2, the action is extremely quiet making it very suitable for a living room. The only thing that you can really hear is the seat rolling backwards and forwards on the runners and perhaps the occasional grunt of effort by the user!

The performance is similar to many of the other magnetic resistance rowers on the market. There is a knob just underneath the monitor which adjusts the load that can be set to a high enough level to challenge the strongest of men.

Sunny Fitness Magnetic Rower SeatThe seat is fairly comfortable although I prefer to user a rowing machine seat pad. The foot rests are big enough but it is not possible to adjust the position of the straps relative to the feet. I could imagine this being a problem if you have really small feet. I don’t (size 13!!)

In terms of storage, this machine folds away to quite a compact size and can be folded with minimum effort. It’s not as beautiful at the Waterrower which looks like a piece of furniture when put away against a wall, but then it does cost six times as much!

The monitor is not fantastic. It tracks strokes, time, and calories. However, with a good heart rate monitor and a notebook, it is quite easy to measure your improvements. My advice is to set a stroke rate of around 21-25 spm and the resistance to whatever you can sustain for the time period you are training. Keep these settings for ten training sessions and make a note of your average heart rate at the end of each session. If it starts dropping, you are getting the training right. If you are looking for a machine with a fantastic competition level computer, then you need to upgrade to a Concept 2 but this will set you back around $1000.

All in all, the Sunny Health and Fitness rowing machine is terrific value for money and will give you as good a workout as with any other magnetic resistance rower.

It’s currently priced at $205 on Amazon.


Compare other rowing machines here.


Why runners should be rowers.

This is a great post originally from that struck a chord with me. I used to play a lot of rugby and got into rowing once I had stopped playing regularly. Rugby is an intense sport and as part of my training I did a lot of running and picked up a persistent calf muscle injury which took a lot of rehab. To keep fit I was swimming and cycling but had I known about how intense rowing is, I would most definitely had done this instead and then added it as permanent part of my training.

As a runner I was in need of a workout to help me retain fitness while I rehabbed a foot injury, so I was directed to a rowing machine—commonly referred to as an ergometer or “erg.”
Then I endured one of the most challenging cross-training workouts of my life—for exactly 12 minutes.

Rowing is an invaluable tool for runners. When you learn how to do it right it lights up weaknesses you didn’t know you had. It helps runners and cyclists find power in muscles they hadn’t used before.

Rowing is a potent weapon in an endurance athlete’s cross-training arsenal, or as a replacement for running when injuries surface. It’s no joke. It’s some serious, lung-searing stuff. When an athlete is dealing with a foot or Achilles tendon problem, often the solution lies in replacing running with work on the ergometer. For both continuity and recovery. In place of key running workouts, use indoor rowing.
It’s all about proper technique. If you don’t do it right, it’s not going to work.

While running and rowing are similar in cardiovascular benefits, they differ in the muscular workout they deliver. Erin Cafaro, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist and member of the U.S. rowing squad, said that rowing punishes the body in different ways. “In one continuous motion rowing works legs, core, back and arms,” she said. “It’s a full-body workout.”

One of the chief benefits rowing offers runners is improved posture. “Runners typically have terrible posture, leading to bad form, leading to beating the hell out of yourself.
Proper rowing helps runners develop robust midline stability to help shift running from smaller, weaker muscles such as hip flexors to more powerful muscles in the hips.

Properly performed rowing gives a runner a solid blast of cardio work, works the abs, core and lower back, and even develops flexibility in the hamstrings and calves.

Where should you start? Don’t make the mistake most runners do when they first hit the rowing machine and yank away—not only will you miss out on the primary benefits rowing has to offer, but you also might make things worse.

So, what benefits does rowing offer runners and triathletes?

Rowing machines allow runners to do a non-impact form of endurance training. If you want to be a better runner, your training should focus on running mainly. However, cross-training during non-competitive periods in the year and during recovery blocks throughout the season helps runners stay injury free and mentally fresh. Those are the key benefits of rowing for runners.

Any tips fur runners taking up rowing?

Strongly resist the urge to become a rowing specialist. This is especially true for triathletes, who tend to want to mimic the training done in the specific sub sports of their discipline. For example, very often triathletes fall into the trap of training like Masters swimmers, road cyclists and runners rather than training like a triathlete. The same intensity and inquisitiveness that leads to those miss-steps can also lead a motivated runner or triathlete to use the erg as if he is a crew specialist. This is counterproductive because it can hurt recovery. If you’re really trying to improve on the erg, it’s likely your training load will increase on the erg and will cut into your recovery, leading to decreased volumes of sport-specific training. Both problems can reduce sport-specific performance.

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Why Indoor Rowing Is Much More Than Just Cardio

The term “cardio” is loosely used to define several activities. It is important to note some cardiovascular activities hold greater weight than others despite being under the same umbrella. Indoor rowing would be one of these activities.

It is one of the more robust activities a person can use to lose weight and get stronger. Let’s take a look at why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio for those creating a meaningful workout program.

What Is Indoor Rowing?

Before looking into dissecting indoor rowing for its benefits, let’s assess what it encompasses.

Indoor rowing is completed with an indoor rowing machine or “indoor rower.” The premise of this machine is to recreate the rowing motion indoors.

An ergometer is attached to the machine to determine how much force is being expended and the artificial distance being covered. This helps shape one’s workout and progress towards established goals. Many gyms and home gyms are now filled with these machines because of how useful they are in losing weight and getting healthier.

Comparable Types Of Cardio

What are some of the comparable types of cardiovascular activities and machines one can use?

Treadmills are not as effective as indoor rowing1) Bicycle
2) Treadmill
3) Stepper

These are the three key cardio machines a person will get to see when heading to a local gym or when buying equipment for a home gym.

These pieces of equipment are fantastic, but it’s important to understand rowing machines are better. The amount of wasted force with these machines is greater than that which an indoor rowing machine will require. With wasted force comes lost potential.

Studies have shown an indoor rowing machine is far greater in getting a whole body workout.

Benefits Of Indoor Rowing

Let’s begin with the advantages of indoor rowing for those who are looking to come to grips about this activity and why it holds merit in the world of cardio. Many people feel this is the ultimate solution and far better than other activities due to these underlying advantages.

1) Whole Body Workout

Indoor Rowing Workout Rocks!
Workout Rocks!

The first benefit comes from usage. A general cardiovascular activity will get the blood pumping and heart racing. This is wonderful, but it’s not ideal when it comes to time expended. With an indoor rowing machine, it’s possible to get the whole body working out at the same time.

The movement requires force and this means the body from head to toe has to be utilized.

With indoor rowing, the body will be put under the pump, and this will extract real value from each minute spent on the machine.

2) Maximizes Muscle Retention

The one thing a lot of cardiovascular workouts tend to hamper involves muscle retention. This is the idea of losing muscle over a period of time. Instead of letting this happen, it’s better to go with a machine designed to retain muscle in the long-term.

The maximization of muscle is one of the key selling points of the indoor rowing machine.

It gets the heart racing, but it also makes sure the body is working in a manner where the muscles don’t start to lessen in mass.

3) Builds Mind-Muscle Connection

The machine does an excellent job of building an in-depth mind-muscle connection. This lets you understand your body better and get more value out of the session.

This is why many prefer indoor rowing over other activities.

It challenges the body to maintain good posture and continue the movement in a safe manner. If a person ignores this, they don’t optimize the movement. It’s a unique activity and one with a lot of value.

4) Reduces Pressure On Joints

The final benefit comes in the form of reduced pressure on the joints. There is no reason to go with a machine such as a treadmill, which can ruin one’s knees from the constant pounding. The low-impact nature of indoor rowing makes it beneficial.

These are the reasons why indoor rowing is more than simple cardio and continues to be a prime option for those wanting high-grade results in this day and age. Working out isn’t about getting up, but also making sure things are doing with a high level of care where quality results are possible.