Rowing at the moment forms the foundation of my training, I try to row 6 times a week, usually in the mornings. Even just after a few weeks I noticed that I felt fitter on the water when I was windsurfing, I also hugely enjoy it which is a massive bonus.
Rowing is both a cardiovascular and strength conditioning exercise. It is the best low-impact full body workout out there. As it engages so many muscle groups it will give you great calorie burn and this also makes it time efficient.
It's brilliant for cross training for other sports - yes, including running! Also, because of the huge numbers of muscles you'll pull in - a whopping 84% of your muscles, it's a brilliant warm up for weight training, running, spinning etc.
You can use the rower for HIIT, cardio intervals, steady state cardio at varying intensities, strength conditioning workouts using higher resistance... the options are endless.
A light 20-30 minute row is great for active recovery the day after an event or after a heavy session in the gym. It warms you up again, loosens everything off with the dynamic stretching involved, pushes the blood round the body introducing more oxygen to the muscles and flushing out lactic acid to speed recovery.
The low impact makes it great for rehabilitation after injury, as does swimming of course, but how many people can fit a swimming pool in their house?!
The huge rowing community online and resources available means you'll never be without a training partner, a new goal or motivation!
Interested in getting started with rowing?
You need a couple of things before you start. You need to know how to do it without injuring yourself, a plan, and a lot of grit and determination, when it gets tough you just have to dig deep and keep going.
Technique, Technique, Technique. Not only will the right technique mean you won't injure yourself, it'll also mean you'll be a more efficient rower. Rather than blether on about posture and the different stages, I'm going to let an expert tell you how to do it, please watch this Rowing Technique Video on Youtube. Even if you've rowed before an occasional refresher does no harm and you might pick up some tips you've missed before.
Get to know the monitor on the rowing machine you're using. Press all the buttons and find out what they do. Get to know the menu structure intimately and how to set up different types of workout using the timed, distance and intervals options. Read up on Drag Factor and make a habit of checking it at the start of every session. Do a couple of rows initially around 22-24 strokes per minute, concentrate on technique and get a good feel for the motion.
Get a plan. There are loads on the internet. The concept 2 ones are great but not that simple to follow as they require a fair bit of homework and you need to be aware of your heart rate when you're rowing. Wolverine is great for super serious rowers but not so great for beginners. The best plan I have ever come across uses the best elements from both of these and is designed by Pete Marston, who himself is an amazing rower. He runs www.thepeteplan.co.uk. Click on the beginners bit on the left of his page and go do it. If you can't row 5000m straight off, don't worry. Start with 4x1000m with a 3-5 minute rest inbetween or even start with 500m and build up. If you do decide to do the Pete Plan, I've created a logsheet on googledocs you can copy, please copy and paste it into a spreadsheet for your own use.
My 5K and 10K Times During the 2009-2010 Season
Don't underestimate the motivation that keeping a good log of your rows can give you!