How do I Choose the Best Rowing Machine Workouts?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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Anyone new to rowing machine workouts should start with easy exercises that focus on form rather than muscle building or cardiovascular benefit. Rowing with an incorrect form can lead to injuries, and it can prevent you from reaping any actual benefit from this strenuous exercise. Once you have developed adequate form, you can begin trying other, more difficult, rowing machine workouts that will build muscle as well as cardiovascular endurance. Start with a steady state workout, and then try something a bit more difficult like an interval workout. A high-intensity workout is great for rowers participating in races or other competitions.

Steady state rowing machine workouts are rowing workouts that do not fluctuate in speed or intensity. You will basically row at a constant rate for a long period of time, training the muscles to endure the strenuous movement and building cardiovascular endurance. This workout is also good for lactic acid threshold training; lactic acid is a byproduct of burned glycogen, which is the body's preferred fuel source during physical activity. Lactic acid buildup can cause muscles to become stiff and tired, so a lactic acid threshold workout will allow you to enhance the amount of time your muscles are able to function with lactic acid building up in them.


An even better lactic acid threshold workout is an interval workout. Interval rowing machine workouts involve starting at a steady pace, and finally increasing the intensity of the workout dramatically for a set period of time, then dropping back down to the steady pace. The high intensity part of the workout should be done at about 80% to 90% maximum effort for a short period of time. The rest period at a slower pace should be slightly longer. Repeating this process several times will help develop muscle and cardiovascular performance. A pyramid interval workout can be performed as well, with the high intensity periods lengthening each time they are repeated.

High-intensity rowing machine workouts involve going as hard as possible for a shorter amount of time. Racers will often perform these rowing machine workouts in preparation for a race, as the body will mimic the intensity and duration of race pace and length. These workouts can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as 45 minutes, and the rower will row as hard as possible while still maintaining good form. The muscles will get used to this type of strain in time for a race that will place these conditions on the body.


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