Rowing is a total body workout that uses 86% of the muscles in your body. As a cardio workout, it burns calories which leads to a healthy heart. In fact, it’s such an efficient workout that NASA astronauts train with rowing. Why wouldn’t they when thirty minutes of rowing can have the same physical impact as 90 minutes of cycling?
Additionally, rowing movements are very versatile. Meaning the better your rowing movement, the better your clean, your deadlift, and squat will become. There is also very low risk for injury when rowing because of the low impact, making it safe for individuals who have had ankle, knee, or hip problems. NOTE: correct form and coaching on keeping the damper at the proper setting will ensure safety.
Rowing with friends is sometimes just as important as the rowing exercise itself. Training partners provide motivation to help you push harder and further. Having a person next to you plays an intricate part in your session. Not only for the competition but also for pacing.
As a CrossFit athlete, I know firsthand the importance of a “rowing buddy.” I would not spend half the time I do on the rower if it weren’t for friends. Whether it be for pure competition, someone to keep my pacing, or by simply making me accountable. As a result, rowing has made me a better athlete, in general, increasing my lung capacity leading to better running times, WOD times, and even heavier lifts.
Rowing with a group also has its benefits. Keeping pace for SPM targeted workouts allows your mind to stay focused on mechanics while remaining “in the boat” with the class.
For example, take the 10 min build often seen in the Dark Horse rowing program. One person generally placed in the center of class keeps the pacing for the group while calling out the stroke rate. This allows you to have athletes of all levels training at the same pace without losing focus on technique.
Another great example of this can be seen in our video from a couple weeks ago with Ryan Shelton. Here you can see Ryan is holding a steady stroke rate allowing Shane to speak, while also rowing at the same pace.
Not everybody has a rowing partner they can row with. But fortunately, there are platforms online where you can find others who are trying to become better athletes with the rowing machine.
No matter your situation, seek out individuals to row with just as you would for other training partners. Post your results, give and receive encouragement, and try to cycles together. You will be surprised at the progress you’ll make.