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What are the Different Types of Rowing Machine Exercises?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Just about every gym and fitness center will feature at least one rowing machine, though many people avoid this apparatus because they are not familiar with rowing machine exercises that will help them improve their muscle tone and strength as well as cardiovascular health. The rowing machine mimics the motion that one would employ when rowing a rowboat, and this machine works similar muscles. One can simply get on the machine and row back and forth, getting some sort of muscle workout, but it is important to learn proper form and technique to prevent injury.

Some rowing machine exercises will vary according to the stroke rate, or the rate at which the user will pull on the handles. The most common and easiest of all rowing machine exercises is known as steady state, or simply rowing at a constant rate, usually around 18 to 20 strokes per minute. This is a good exercise for beginners as well as advanced users looking for a good, steady warm-up exercise. Doing a steady state workout will help a user get used to the motion and improve his or her form; improper form can lead to injuries, so beginners should spend a fair amount of time on this workout. This workout should last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

Rowing machines mimic the motions used when rowing a boat.
Rowing machines mimic the motions used when rowing a boat.

Intervals are a great way to build endurance and cardiovascular health. This is one of the more difficult rowing machine exercises, since it is a fairly prolonged exercise that will involve varying the intensity level of the workout. A common interval workout may include a 10 to 15 minute warm-up, then the first interval in which the rower will row at a faster pace, then a rest period in which the rower returns to the warm-up pace for about a minute. This type of interval workout can go on for up to an hour or more, with the intensity and duration of the harder interval varying according to ability level and workout goals.

A high-intensity rowing workout will involve rowing at the user's highest intensity for a certain amount of time, usually a much shorter amount of time than other types of rowing machine exercises. This type of workout is intended to mimic a race pace, and the rower will be working to build muscle and muscle response as well as explosiveness. This type of exercise can in some ways be considered a plyometric exercise.

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    • Rowing machines mimic the motions used when rowing a boat.
      By: corepics
      Rowing machines mimic the motions used when rowing a boat.