Gym veterans and newbies alike know the importance of a great warm up session to get the blood flow pumping and muscles warmed up, and everyone has their favorite way of doing it. Switch-up your warm up by going at it on the rowing machine or ‘rower’. It’s gaining a lot of popularity as a go-to method of achieving a full-body warm up or a fantastic lengthy cardio session.
Rowing is low-impact, easy on the joints, and can help your overall fitness in many ways, such as building and toning muscles, increasing and improving cardiovascular function and stamina, and promoting weight loss. It also offers greater resistance than cycling or spinning because the continuous pull and push motion of rowing provides resistance in not one, but two directions.
In terms of which muscle groups benefit from a session on the rowing machine, the answer is simple and short, all of them! Unlike the treadmill or elliptical, rowing works both your lower and upper body simultaneously. At the beginning of each stroke, you engage your back, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. As the stroke continues, your abdominals, triceps, chest muscles, shoulder muscles, and glutes kick in. As you finish the stroke, your biceps and obliques are working hard.
It is important to get the technique of rowing correct in order to avoid any injuries and gain the maximum potential from working out.
THE BASICS OF ROWING
The Catch: Sit on the rower and bend your knees, placing your feet in the hold. Extend your arms and grab the handle firmly. Straighten your back, ensure that you are not hunched over, and tighten your core abdominal muscles.
The Drive: Push with your legs, straightening them until they are completely straight, pulling the handle with your extended arms at the same time. Do not make the mistake of using your full-body force all at once during this step. You should be using your legs primarily, then your core, then your arms in succession — not all at once in a single full-body move.
The Finish: Once your legs are straightened out, use your core and hamstrings to lean back to a roughly 45-degree angle, keeping your spine straight. Bend your elbows in order to pull the handle inward until it touches just below your chest, then extend your arms while leaning your torso forward and begin to return to your starting position until your torso is tilted forward at the 45-degree angle. You should be engaging your arms, core, then legs when returning to start position.
TIPS & HACKS
- Always check the resistance setting! A 2 or 3 is the ideal resistance for a beginner to start.
- Remember to breathe! Inhale in the ‘catch’ position, exhale with the ‘drive’, and inhale again when you return to the finish.
- Focus less on the speed and more on the power and on which muscles are being activated. Getting the technique and positioning right is what pays off.
- Don’t pull with your arms! Keep your elbows straight as you push on the ‘drive’ with your legs.
- A stronger core will make you a better rower. This will lend to a more efficient stroke and reduce the risk of injury and potential strain on your muscles. Planks and side planks help with strengthening the core.
Although we are mainly attempting to ignite your love for the indoor rowing machine available at your gym, there are also some other options if you wish to pick up rowing as a full-blown sport. This is an excellent option for your children if you’d like to introduce them to a full-body sport, or even as a family activity in the milder form of kayaking.
The Egyptian Rowing Club
Facebook: Egyptian Rowing Club Official Page
Tel: 02 3748 9639
The Maadi Rowing Club
Tel: 0122 003 0120
Nile Dragons Academy
Tel: 0111 001 0117
Nile Kayak Club
Tel: 0101 001 3335
GYMS WITH ROWERS
1 Zahraa Maadi St – Rihana Residence Maadi
Tel: 0101 222 2986
Facebook: Fibers Maadi
First Mall – Giza 35, Giza street – First Mall, Four Seasons
Tel: 0114 033 3390
Facebook: Fibers First Mall
Al Rehab City Rehab City, Gate 6
Tel: 0112 804 4440
Facebook: Fibers Al Rehab
Twin Plaza Mall (previously Emerald Mall) First Settlement – New Cairo
Tel: 0106 506 3000
15 Ismail Mohamed – Jadda Towers Zamalek
Tel: 0102 802 8465
3 Kabool Street off Mostafa el Nahas St Nasr City
Tel: 0100 097 8431
15 Abdel Moneim Hafez St off El Nozha St Heliopolis
Tel: 0106 507 4700
Point 90 Mall, New Cairo
Tel: 0100 097 8313
Lake House Club Road 90, Fifth Settlement
Tel: 0102 219 6661
15 Abd El-Moneim Hafez Almazah, Heliopolis
Tel: 0100 024 8998