February 01, 2008
I am often asked, "What makes the indoor rower any better than other forms of equipment for metcon [metabolic conditioning] training?"
The typical measure of aerobic exercise is elevated heart rate, which increases blood flow, bringing oxygen to power the muscles, and of course, a lot of heavy breathing. All this elevated activity of the lungs and heart trains and conditions the cardiovascular system. Rowing, though, has some unique advantages over other forms of aerobic training that are often overlooked.
More muscle mass
The advantage of rowing is that more muscle mass is used doing the activity than while running, walking or biking. Your legs, glutes, abdominals, back, shoulders, and arms are all being worked. Of course, as with anything, the actual amount of work being done, and the amount of power being generated, relates to how hard you push yourself. Even on a rowing machine you can just paddle easily, or you can train like an Olympian.
Greater range of motion
Rowing puts all your major body parts through a large range of movement. This is not true of many other forms of aerobic activity. In every stroke, rowing requires full compression and full extension of the arms and legs. Consider the joint rotation during the rowing movement: the ankle rotates through 70 degrees, the knees 130, the hip 80, the shoulder and elbow each about 100.