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Row, Repeat, Reap
With three U.S. medals in London last month and the Head Of The Charles Regatta® just around the corner, the sport of rowing is in the spotlight these days. But did you know: With an average burn of 11 calories per minute, your gym’s humble, tucked-away-in-a-corner rowing machine provides the best total-body workout of any cardio machine? According to Mike Teti, the U.S. Olympic Rowing coach, this is because the machine requires equal effort from your upper and lower body, which can lead to greater gains in overall cardiovascular fitness—and one of the most efficient all-over toners you’ll find anywhere.
One for All. Thanks to its naturally low-impact nature and an adjustable flywheel that enables you to change the intensity of your regimen, rowing machine workouts are suitable for all fitness levels. Just start slowly until you’re familiar with the machine (trust us: it’s really easy) and then gradually boost the intensity of your workouts until you’re feeling that familiar burn. Anna Cummins, Master Rower for Concept 2 (manufacturer of the world’s leading rowing machines), suggests starting with this simple 20-minute routine: Three minutes of warmup and six minutes of rowing followed by a minute of stretching (or lunges if you’re feeling feisty). Then repeat with eight minutes of vigorous rowing and a two-minute stretching cooldown.
Good Form. As with any athletic pursuit, practicing proper form is paramount to maximizing health benefits and avoiding injury—here are a few pointers to keep you rowing at optimal potential. Start with a light grip on the handle, keeping your wrists straight and your hands slightly narrower than the width of your shoulders. As you extend your arms, keep your core engaged and consciously bring your shoulder blades onto your back; this will help to prevent hunching, which is unhealthy for your thoracic and cervical spine. Hinge forward at the hips, bending your knees until they are over your ankles. Then, as you push back with your feet, reactivate your abs and lean back slightly, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Your hands should pull back until they reach your ribs—keep your elbows in and pointed back as if you were in a sitting-up version of the yoga pose chaturanga. Row, repeat… and reap the rewards!