Your Abs – How Would They Benefit From Rowing Machines?
I’ve always been pretty tubby, and it’s about time I did something about it, and exercised more. As we all know, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, as it helps to fight illness, give you more energy, and help you to live a long, happy life. Plus, you get to look good.
For many, getting a six-pack is a hard-to-obtain status symbol that demonstrate you have endured the hard work and dedication to get your body in great condition. Unfortunately, they require a ton of hard work and dedication to actually get them, too.
What’s needed to build abs? Diet is one thing – you need to injest lots of protein and calories, but you need an exercise that builds muscle. Specifically, one that targets the muscles in your abdomen. Is there one exercise that’s better than most for getting killer abs? Well, apparently, the rowing machine might be that thing.
The rowing machine is a great fat burner – it can burn up to 800 calories in an hour’s workout – but its other key characteristic is the sheer number of muscles that it engages – including the abdominal muscles. This makes rowing great for developing your abs.
If you combine this with weight lifting on your off-days, you’ll encourage your body to keep building proteins (and therefore muscle) when you’re not rowing.
Muscle development goes hand-in-hand with fat reduction and cardiovascular exercise, but if you’re exercising specifically to develop your abs, then you need to focus on high-intensity exercise, and not simply cardio work.
High-intensity workouts are high-impact, and with the rowing machine, the setting on the damper and the number of strokes is less important than the effort you put into your stroke. If you do fewer strokes but really generate a sweat, you’ll impact your core muscles more.
Working lots of muscles
Rowing is a challenging exercise because it requires so many muscles to operate, and so will exhaust you very quickly. You might be tempted to slow down or reduce resistance to give yourself a break, but you’ll be cheating yourself out of a proper workout if you do. It’s an uncompromising piece of kit that needs real elbow (and knee, and back, and abdominal) grease to make an impact on you.
You have to maintain a steady pace and proper posture at all times to get all the benefits. It’s this combination of posture and repetitive effort that makes rowing uniquely effective for muscle development.
There’s three main stages in your stroke. The “catch” is first, where you use your lower back and leg muscles to pull the ‘oar’ with you to the rear of the machine. Stage two, the “drive” is where it gets interesting, because while you pull the oar into your chest, your triceps, chest, shoulder, wrists, glutes and abdominals all get used.
Stage three, the “finish” uses the biceps and obliques as you begin to push the oar back to the front of the machine, and finally, stage four, the “recovery” uses your abs to draw your body forward into the starting position again.
Rowing therefore really engages your core, as long as you ensure your rowing stroke is on point. It works 86 percent of your muscles in 30 minutes. This includes proper posture, keeping your back straight, and remembering to pull the bar with your whole body, not just drag it along by your arms.
Make it tougher…
Yes, yes, I know, it’s already tough. Rowing machines offer one of the harshest workouts in the gym. But stick with it. Raise the damper up another level (but not too much in one go, or you’ll injure yourself). Upping the challenge will mean your abs become more defined as your whole body gets stronger.
Remember, 60% of the effort is in the legs, 30% from your back movements, and 10% is in your arms. More developed muscles themselves consume more energy and reduce back pain. Exercise can also strengthen your bones.
Yes, you did read that right. Self.com suggests that you can work your abs on a rowing machine by doing activities other than rowing. CityRow’s Annie Mulgrew suggests putting your feet on the seat, and lie face down rearwards of the rowing machine, and do a few planks in that position.
Then pull the seat towards your core, arching your body up through your hips until they are above your shoulders. After a few of these, mix it up with some one-foot side-reps or some pushups. These will do amazing things to your core and your abs.
It’s clear that rowing is a great choice for developing your abs. It’s no surprise that they’re a popular choice when they strengthen and tone core abdominal muscles as well as burn fat. The machine keeps up with you as you get stronger and better at rowing, and can be made tougher with the damper’s difficulty setting. Finally, there’s a variety of peripheral exercises that can be used to mix up your workout and better target your abs.
Remember, though, that while rowing is great for your abs, it alone isn’t enough to develop them. It’s best to combine it with another exercise form, like weights, to maintain protein production in your body and work your muscles in different ways.