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Rowing Machines: Smooth, Stationary Sailing
Rowing machines are beloved for combining cardio with resistance. Explore the machinery behind this gym staple with Groupon’s close look.
Rowing machines combine the full-body workout of crew practice with the comfort and stability of a dry-docked gym. Strokes engage as many as nine different major muscle groups throughout the legs, core, and arms. These can build strength and power with short-interval training or improve stamina and cardiovascular endurance with long-interval training. To avoid back strain, rowers should generate most of the force with their legs instead of pulling too much with their arms; and maintaining lower-back stability is essential. When performed correctly, rowing is a low-impact exercise that puts relatively little strain on the ankles, knees, and hips.
Basic indoor-rowing machines have existed since the cast-iron-and-wood versions of the mid-1800s, giving professional rowers and casual competitors a way to practice amid inclement weather. The 1960s saw the invention of the ergometer, a device designed to measure the amount of work being performed, and thus read out the “speed” the rower is achieving. This decade also heralded a shift away from hydraulic-based equipment to machines that generate resistance with weighted flywheels (spinning wheels that preserve momentum and keep the movement of the rower fluid). Magnetic brakes and flywheels that generate air resistance are common, although some machines immerse their flywheels in water, better recreating the natural resistance caused by a lake or gelatin-filled pool.
Even with these advancements, indoor rowing machines encourage longer, slower strokes than professionals normally use on the water, which means they can’t be the sole training exercise for an off-season rower. But if you simply want a well-rounded workout that can be accessible even to those with certain joint or mobility concerns, there’s no need to precisely mimic the motions of oars and waves.