As we can see in some of the bigger gyms around town, common fat burning programs include some sort of cardiovascular training designed around the treadmill or the elliptical machines. Among the keys to losing fat is a total body exercise program that focuses on dynamic combination movements which ultimately helps to burn the greatest amount of calories. One machine that works the whole body and is challenging and low impact is the rower (this is a great change as sometimes our bodies take a pounding during exercise). Debra Strougo Frolich, Co-Founder, Row House, NYC says, “rowing is a great solution if you want to get a great cardio workout, but don’t want the impact of running, for example.”
Here are some other reasons to break from your treadmill or elliptical bond and start rowing:
* With proper technique you’ll “feel it” in your back, arms, glutes, stomach and legs for an efficient total body workout
* The rower can be used to warm up for the workout of the day
* The rower can be used during your active rest portion between sets in your workout
Frohlich adds, “If you are looking to get lots of hard to reach areas in a cardio workout, then row. You won’t only burn calories but you’ll also work your upper body, core, and lower body in each and every stroke. No wonder rowers are known for such great bodies,” says Debra Strougo Frohlich, Co- Founder, Row House, NYC.
Using the rower
As with any training modality, form is important as improper form can lead to injury, especially low back injuries. First, once seated on the rower, rest the feet on the base and secure the foot straps. Adjust the straps to the point where the feet are secure but still comfortable. When on the rower, sit up straight, keep the elbow close to the body when pulling the handles (hold the handles with the palms facing the floor).
Three phases make up one row stroke. They are the catch phase, the drive phase and the recovery phase. During the catch phase which is the starting point, position the body with the knees bent, the chest on the thighs, the back straight and the stomach tight while holding the handles. During the second phase which is the drive phase, push the body back by using the legs while bending the elbows and pulling the bar in towards the belly button. Do not hyperextend the back on this phase. Finally during the recovery phase bend at the hips to return to the starting position.
* Remember proper breathing technique. Exhale during the second phase and inhale on the way back.
* Resistance on the machine can be set according to the fitness level of the user.
The novice rower may want to begin at a lower level to take most of the pressure off of the upper body.
Sample workouts using the rower
The newer rowing machines have different workouts and games from which to choose that allow for a creative workout. One can perform intervals, steady paced workouts or active rests on the machine. During a steady paced workout, the user can set a challenging pace and maintain it for a set time. Beginners can work their way up to an hour and can start with 15 minutes and increase the time each time.
Interval training is more intense than steady state training and is great for fat loss. After a warm up the trainee can row at a fast pace for approximately 15-30 seconds and then slow the pace down for 45 to 60 seconds. 30 minutes of this type of work is plenty.
Lastly, an example of using the rower machine during the active rest periods of a workout session is to sprint for 30 seconds on the rower between weight training exercises. This is another way to keep the heart rate up for better fat burning results.