If you’ve ever felt the draw of endurance sports, there a good chance that cycling in one form or another has made its way into your regimen. Whether it’s road, mountain, or BMX, the application of two wheels to the earth is quite appealing to people, especially those who may crave a bit more speed than running, rowing, or swimming can offer.
The mechanical advantage that cycling provides can make for great touring, sight-seeing, or a killer workout. However, too much time in the saddle for sport specific conditioning can come with its own issues. From excessive quad dominance, trouble maintaining good posture, and a lack of upper body strength.
This is the reason so many cyclists have turned to indoor rowing as a means of cross-training for their sport. Because while cycling can provide insane anaerobic and aerobic workouts it’s not without its need for balance and this is where rowing comes in.
Photo credit: trainingpeaks.com
Take a look at this photo showing the muscles used and when in the pedal stroke. Take note that nothing takes place above the waist. That includes back or trunk muscles, or arms. It’s all in the legs. Which will do a great job for your legs but can leave the rest of your body wanting for some attention.
On the indoor rowing machine, the entire body is required during the phases of the stroke to do work. It asks that you are responsible for your own movement and use your own musculature to stay in control. It also places a demand for work on almost every muscle in the body which means your trunk, your back, and your arms will get stronger. It’s for this reason, we say that rowing is a strength endurance sport. You’ll develop a strong aerobic base WHILE getting stronger.
As cyclists have seen the need to maintain a balanced body and develop strengths that will complement their time on the bike, it’s become apparent that indoor rowing helps to build those parts of their bodies that cycling just can’t touch while allowing them to further develop their aerobic systems in a way that will only benefit their sport specific work.
If you’re not spending your cycling time focusing on your weaknesses you’re openly allowing a gap in your performance that could move you ahead of the pack by developing strengths others just can’t find with all of their miles on the bike. If cycling is your sport of choice seriously consider indoor rowing as a means of building your weaknesses into strengths and perhaps improving your performance along the way.
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