A Beginners Guide to Indoor Rowing

A woman in gym gear being taught to use an indoor rower by an instructor

Everything you need to know to get started

Rowing is an excellent full-body workout that provides a variety of health benefits. But if you've never rowed before, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this beginners guide, we will cover everything you need to know in order to get started with indoor rowing, including:

Please don't take this as a guide on rowing outdoors in actual boats! The technique and skill level is very different. If you are looking to get into outdoor rowing as a sport, we recommend you look for your local rowing club and sign up for classes with a qualified instructor.

We'll discuss the different types of rowers, how to use them properly, and the many benefits of rowing. So whether you're a fitness enthusiast or just looking for a new way to get in shape, read on for all the information you need to start rowing today!

What are the different types of rowing machines?

There are two main traditional types of rowing machines: air resistance and water resistance.

Air resistance machines

These use a fan to create resistance. This type of machine is typically less expensive and smaller than water resistance machines, making it a good option for those who are tight on space. However, air resistance machines can be noisier than water resistance machines.

Water resistance machines

These use paddles or fans to create drag through... yes you guessed it, water! This is generally thought to provide a more realistic rowing experience. They are typically more expensive than air resistance machines, but they are also supposed to offer a workout that feels closer to rowing on a lake or river.

Both types of rowing machines can contribute greatly to a properly planned fitness regime, but the type you choose will depend on your personal preferences.

If you're looking for a more challenging workout, then an air resistance machine may be the best option for you. However, if you're concerned about noise level, then a water resistance machine may be a better choice. It all depends on what your workout goals and living circumstances are.

There are two other types of rowing machines: vertical and magnetic. Vertical rowing machines are a newer type of machine that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Magnetic rowing machines are another option, and they use magnets to create resistance. These machines tend to be quieter than air resistance rowing machines, but they may not provide as much of a challenge in the long term.

How to choose a rowing machine

When choosing a rowing machine, there are several factors to consider. First, think about how often you plan to use the machine. If you plan to use it every day, then you may want to invest in a higher-quality machine that will last longer. However, if you plan to only use it a few times a week, then a lower-quality , less expensive machine may be fine.

Also, think about the space you have available. If you don't have much space in your home, then a vertical rowing machine may be the best option for you. Also a light machine may better, or one that is foldable and stowable under a bed, in a closet or somewhere out of the way. On the other hand, if you have plenty of space, then an air resistance machine may be a better choice.

Finally, consider your budget. Rowing machines can range in price from around $100 to $2000 or more, so decide what you're comfortable spending and stick to that budget.

Once you've considered these factors, you should be able to find the perfect rowing machine for your needs and budget.

A great tip is to find what gyms are in your area, & to go test out their rowing machines on a day pass. While they'll probably have the best rowing machines available for professional gyms, you'll be able to feel the difference between an air rower and a water rower, and have a think about which machines best suit your skill level and range of movement.

No matter what type of rowing machine you choose, it's important to learn how to use it properly in order to get the most out of your workout.

What is the best rowing machine for beginners?

There is no definitive answer when it comes to choosing the best rowing machine for beginners. However, if you're looking for a basic, affordable machine, then an air resistance machine is a good option. These machines are typically less expensive than water resistance machines, and they are relatively easy to use.

Which rowing machine is the easiest to maintain?

The easiest type of rowing machine to maintain is likely an air resistance machine. These machines typically have less moving parts, and they are easier to clean than other types of machines. They also don't contain any water, which can get messy if you have to disassemble the rower in the course of maintenance or repair.

However, all rowing machines require some basic maintenance, so be sure to read the owner's manual carefully before using your machine, or making any repairs. In the next section, we'll discuss what a rowing workout can do for you.

Why is rowing so good for you?

Rowing is a great way to get in shape, and it has a variety of health benefits. For starters, rowing is an excellent cardio workout. It can help to improve heart health, and it can also help to burn calories. In fact, one study found that rowing can burn up to roughly 400 calories per hour.

Finally, like a lot of aerobic exercise, rowing is a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health. One study found that rowing can help to reduce anxiety and improve mood. So if you're looking for a way to relax and de-stress, then rowing may be the perfect exercise for you

It's a low impact sport

Rowing is very low-impact, which means it's easy on your joints. This makes it an excellent exercise for people with joint pain or other mobility issues. In fact, rowing can actually help to improve joint function. One study carried out with visually impaired people (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564707/) found that regular, intensive rowing helped reduce body fat, increase back strength and significantly increase trunk flexion score.

What muscles does rowing work?

Rowing machines provide a great workout for your entire body, and they work a variety of muscles. The most common muscles used in rowing are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. However, rowing also works the abs, back, and shoulders, i.e. most major muscle groups! So if you're looking for a total-body workout, then rowing is a great option.

Whole body workout

Indoor rowing provides excellent upper and lower body conditioning. A powerful leg drive starts every stroke – your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals fire up to push you along the slide. Then comes the power from the back and upper body – your abdominals and obliques activate to provide stability, assisting your torso to drive backwards. Simultaneously, your trapezius, latissimus dorsi and biceps work to pull the handle towards your body.

Strength and cardiovascular endurance training

Indoor rowing promotes improvements to muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. When your muscles are put under repeated physical stress, physiological adaptations occur to make them stronger, in other words your muscle fibres will grow stronger and you will have an improved ability to utilise oxygen.

A huge advantage is that unlike many other workouts, indoor rowing works both at the same time!

You're in control!

Committing to an exercise regime can be hard, so engaging in an activity where the exercise intensity is easily controllable will help to make it more enjoyable and keep motivation levels high. With adjustable intensity built into a rowing machine, the pace is entirely up to you and is determined by the resistance of the adjustable flywheel and/or how hard you pull during each rowing stroke.

How long till you see results from a regular rowing workout?

While the results may vary depending on how frequently you row and your individual body composition, many people see results after just a few weeks of regular rowing.

Rowing is a great way to get in shape quickly, and it can provide a lot of health benefits. So if you're looking to improve your fitness level or overall health, start rowing today!

So now that we've covered the basics, let's go over some tips on how to row for beginners:

Good indoor rowing technique for absolute beginners

When using a rowing machine, it's important to maintain correct form. Start by sitting up tall with your feet firmly planted on the footrests. Grab the handle with both hands, and then extend your legs out in front of you.

From here, begin the rowing motion by bending your knees and pulling the handle towards your chest. As you drive back up to the starting position, be sure to keep your core engaged and resist the urge to arch your back.

Remember to breathe throughout the entire motion, and exhale as you drive the handle back. This is known in rowing as a stroke.

Proper rowing technique may take some time to master, but it's important to practice good form from the very beginning. Not only will this help you get the most out of your workout, but it will also help prevent injury.

An example rowing machine workout for beginners

Now that you know the how to use a rowing machine, it's time to put your new skills to use! In this section, we'll provide an example beginners workout for any home rowing machine. These workouts are designed to help you get started, but feel free to modify them as needed.

A basic indoor rowing machine workout:

This workout involves alternating between two different rowing intervals. For each interval, row for one minute at a moderate pace, followed by 30 seconds of sprinting. Repeat this cycle for a total of 20 minutes for a great full body workout.

Modify the workout as needed to make it more challenging. For example, you can increase the length of the rowing intervals or add more rounds. You can also start working on your split time.

What is a split time?

Your split in rowing is how long it will take you to row 500 meters at your current rate of speed. In rowing, the term "split" refers to pace; the lower your split, the faster you're going. On an indoor rowing machine, your split is usually shown as X:XX/500m.

If you're not in great shape to begin with, the 500 distance is a useful place to start your training, as it is a good warmup to row for 500 meters. This will give you a good start to your workout without being too challenging. You can always increase the distance as you get more comfortable rowing. You can also start thinking about your strokes per minute.

In order to achieve your desired number of strokes per minute, you will need to adjust your damper setting. The damper is a lever usually found on the side of the machine that controls the amount of air that enters the machine, or the resistance on a water rower. The higher the damper setting, the more resistance you will feel. So if you're looking to row at a specific number of strokes per minute, you'll need to adjust your damper setting accordingly.

Can you use a rowing machine for weight loss?

Rowing is a great exercise for weight loss. Not only does it burn a lot of calories, but it also helps build muscle. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Rowing is a great way to do that, as it can help you burn up to 800 calories per hour.

As above, modify the workout as needed to make it more challenging. You can increase the length of the rowing intervals or add more rounds. Be sure to focus on your form, and remember to breathe throughout the entire workout.

Please consult a doctor or health professional before you embark on any fitness regime! Before starting any workout, remember to warm up your muscles. This will help prevent injuries and make your workout more effective. After your workout, be sure to cool down your muscles by stretching or doing light cardio. A proper warm up will help prepare your body for exercise, and a cool down will help your muscles recover and prevent stiffness.

Consider taking some rowing classes.

If you're starting out and not sure what to do, consider taking rowing classes. A good instructor should be able to give you guidance on your form, because everybody's body is different. Depending on your height, weight, and proportions, you may need to adjust your form slightly to achieve optimal results. By working with an experienced instructor, you can ensure that you're using the proper form for your body type. This will help you figure out where to start, get the most out of your workouts, and avoid injuries.

What kind of rowing gear do you need?

In order to row, you will need a rowing machine and appropriate clothing. When choosing a rowing machine, be sure to select one that is comfortable for you. As we covered above, some machines have different settings and levels of resistance, so be sure to find one that suits your needs. You may also want to consider a machine with an adjustable seat, as this can help ensure a proper fit.

When it comes to clothing, wear something comfortable and fitted that won't get in the way. You may want to avoid loose clothing or anything that could potentially catch on the machine.

If you don't want to spend loads of your hard-earned dollars, a tracksuit or shorts and a tank top are generally a good choice, but be sure to listen to your body and adjust as needed.

As with most sports, there is gear out there for every budget, with many brands out there providing specific rowing clothing for men and women. Some things you might want to consider getting along with your machine include:

Rowing gloves

Rowing can give you blisters, especially if you have sensitive hands that aren't used to gripping a bar for relatively long periods of time. While most professional rowers don't tend to use gloves on the water, it could be a good idea to invest in a good quality pair of gloves at least as you begin your rowing workout journey.

If you already own a pair of weightlifting gloves, give rowing a go with these and see how you get on!

There can be a bit of a macho culture around being tough, developing calluses and ignoring blisters in the traditional rowing community. We recommend you ignore this if you come across it, and invest in a good, snug pair of gloves to begin with.

It is worth mentioning that if you wear rings (or any jewellery really) it is a good idea to take these off while you are working out.

Rowing Shoes

While you can get very expensive, highly specific shoes for outdoor rowing in boats, you don't necessarily have to spend hundreds of dollars if you're going to be only rowing indoors.

While there are a lot of factors involved in what shoes you ultimately use, there is nothing wrong with trying out rowing with different pairs of sneakers that you already have, and figuring out what works best for your foot placement and how you feel on the machine.

As rowing is a low-impact activity, you don't need a huge amount of cushioning like you would have on say a running or basketball shoe so we would recommend starting off trying a shoe with a relatively thin sole, something like a Converse All-star or similar. This kind of shoe should give you a good amount of feel as you push off the footrests with your feet, and won't absorb power from your stroke like some more cushioned shoes will.

Rowing Clothing

As we mentioned above, there is no need to necessarily go out and buy a whole new rowing specific outfit, but there are a few things to think about to make sure you'll be comfortable during your workout.

The first thing to know is that if you are planning on outdoor rowing, you can wear the same gear indoors as you would in a boat. This will generally be form fitting, as clothing that is too loose could flap around and get in the way of your stroke.

Shorts or leggings are a good idea, as are bottoms and underwear without too many thick seams on the seat, as you will be spending a lot of time sitting down, and these could cause chafing if they are too prominent.

Socks are definitely a good idea. Your heel will move throughout your rowing stroke, & socks will cut back on any rubbing or chafing on your heels.

Once you start going for longer workouts, you should definitely think about feeling dry, so a good form fitting base layer that wicks moisture away from your body is essential for feeling comfortable once you've got your sweat on.

If you're already at this stage, have a think about getting some dedicated rowing shorts. They will be padded in the right places, and will help that moisture evaporate while you work.

Headgear isn't required for indoor rowing for obvious reasons, but if you do have long hair, it may be worth either tying it back, tucking it under a cap or using a headband to keep it out of your eyes and distracting you mid-pull.

If you want to look like a pro, go for a rowing-specific all-in-one or unisuit like you'll see professional rowers wearing at the olympics. These really aren't needed though for your day to day home rowing workout.

Overall if you're looking at getting dedicated rowing gear then great, you'll probably find yourself some really good clothing that does the job. If not, just keep in mind that cotton, natural fabrics and gym gear that's engineered for sports will be your best bet for comfort and durability.

That's it! Now that you know the basics of rowing, you're ready to get started. rowing is a great way to stay in shape and have fun at the same time. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you're first starting out, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy. Just make sure to row with proper form and technique, and you'll be on your way to becoming a rowing pro in no time.

Give it a try and see how you like it. And be sure to check back for more beginner-friendly workouts in the future. Comment below if you think we've missed anything, or if there are articles we haven't written yet that you would like to see!

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