What is an Indoor Rower?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 February 2020
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An indoor rower, which is also sometimes referred to as a rowing machine or an ergometer, is a piece of exercise equipment that is meant to simulate the experience of rowing or sculling. This device has a wheel at the front of the machine that is connected to a rope or chain. Connected to the end of this rope or chain is a handle that is grasped by the user, who pulls on it with both hands. While pulling, the user slides away from the wheel on a movable seat, his feet firmly secured in stirrups that are located near the base of the wheel. The wheel creates resistance that is meant to simulate the resistance that a rower experiences when pulling the paddle of an oar through water.

There are a number of reasons why a person may use an indoor rower. These machines are regularly used by members of rowing teams and enthusiasts of the sport. An indoor rower may also be used as part of a weight-loss program or as part of an exercise program to maintain fitness. One of the benefits of using an indoor rower is that the machine works a number of muscle groups in the body. While the arms and legs are targeted, properly performing a stroke on an indoor rower also engages the abdominal muscles.


There is another kind of indoor rower that uses pistons for resistance instead of a wheel. These kinds of rowers are much less common and are not frequently found in fitness facilities. They are, however, available for purchase and are sometimes used for home exercise routines. Rowers who are training for the sport usually prefer to use rowers with wheels than rowers that use hydraulic cylinders for resistance.

Like many pieces of modern fitness equipment, an indoor rower usually has adjustable levels of resistance. The higher the resistance level, the harder a user will have to work each time a simulated stroke is performed. Many of them are also outfitted with small screens that display information about one's workout. The information that is calculated and displayed may include the amount of time that one has spent exercising, the number of feet or meters that one would have traveled if the strokes performed on the machine had been performed in an actual boat, and the number of calories that the user burned during the exercise.


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