The Most Efficient Piece of Exercise Equipment


When used correctly, the rowing machine is the most effective total body, calorie burning activity.  We feel so strongly about this, we spent our Saturday in beautiful downtown Shrewsbury, NJ learning to become instructors.

Even at moderate intensity, rowing can burn over 800 calories per hour.  But unlike other cardiovascular exercises such as running and spinning, rowing incorporates fast twitch muscles by requiring explosive force to start the movement.  This means in addition to burning fat, rowing also builds and tones muscle.  Some in the fitness community believe that rowing is the new spinning.

Rowing involves muscle contractions over the entire body (approximately 23 muscle groups) and you can get a good workout on the rower in even a short amount of time.  Contrary to popular belief, rowing is primarily a lower body exercise, with 60% of power generated in the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.  The core, abs, upper back and arms are responsible for the remaining 40%.  Check out this diagram which shows all the muscles you’ll engage on the rower.

There are a number of games you can play and exercises you can mix in with rowing to make it a fun workout.  Try these ideas and we’ll provide some more later.  Also check out this page for a few pointers on technique.

Workout 1: 4 rounds, as fast as possible of the following sequence:

  • Row 500m
  • 25 push-ups
  • 25 squats

Workout 2: Calorie Ladder

  • On first minute, row until the monitor says you have rowed 5 calories, you can rest until that minute is up
  • On second minute, row until you have gone 6 calories; Third minute, 7 calories
  • Continue until you cannot climb another step in the ladder within the minute
  • Your score is the number of calories in the last completed minute
  • Climb back down the ladder (if your max was 15 calories, go 14, 13, 12, … 1

 Workout 3: Interval Training

  • Row 250 meters as fast as possible
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Complete 5 more rounds but if any attempt takes a longer amount of time than the first attempt, you must complete a 5 burpee penalty during the 1 minute rest period