Rowers have long been admired for their super-toned physiques, impressive stamina and superior strength.

So what is it about rowing that builds such enviable bodies and is practised by everyone from international rugby and soccer players, to catwalk models, to those recovering from major surgery?

Concept2 Rowing sales and marketing manager Scott Mullen describes rowing as a complete, low-impact form of exercise.

“It’s rare to find an activity that works as many muscle groups through as wide a range of motion as rowing does, ” he says.

“It works the knees, hips, arms and shoulders between 90 and 130 degrees of rotation with every stroke, which makes it a great calorie burner while developing flexibility and strength.

“The combination of cardiovascular strength and conditioning make it a great addition to any fitness or training program and it can be used by people of all ages with a huge variety of fitness goals.”

Because rowing is impact-free and the intensity is entirely user-controlled, it is suitable for people of all ages, even those recovering from injury.

Water Rower Australia’s Les Goltman — who distributes a handcrafted rowing machine made in the United States which exactly mimics the dynamics of a boat gliding across water — reveals that rowing is particularly effective because it works 84 per cent of muscle mass.

“By spreading the aerobic load over a large number of muscle groups, energy and intensity can be optimised, ” Mr Goltman explains.

“It’s also kind to the body because it removes body weight and impact from injury-prone joints like the hips, knees and ankles and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.”

Nordic Fitness’ Perth operations manager Daniel Lizzi, who is also a qualified personal trainer, says rowers have remained among the company’s top-selling products irrespective of fads and fitness crazes.

“I think it retains its popularity because it offers a whole-body workout and you’re able to control your own level of intensity, ” he explains. “You can do a hard and fast burn for a power workout or you can lower the intensity over 20 or 30 minutes for a longer cardio workout.

“It gives you a number of options and it really is suitable for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.”

Mr Lizzi says although treadmills and elliptical machines will always remain popular with those setting up home gyms, new trends were emerging.

“We’re seeing a huge rise in the popularity of functional equipment largely due to the growing popularity of cross-fit training, ” he says.

“There is huge demand now for free-range dumbbells, kettle bells, and weight vests for example which are all key components of cross-fit training.”

Fab fat burner

If it’s weight loss you are chasing, rowing can burn a fantastic amount of calories.

An Amercian study estimates that water rowing can burn a whopping 844 calories (about 3500kj) in an hour for a person who weights 70kg.

And the researchers also found that rowing on a stationary machine is almost as impressive.

The study, by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, found rowing vigorously on a stationary rowing machine will burn 632 calories (2600kj) per hour for a 70kg person.

It also discovered that moderate rowing on a stationary machine could burn 520 calories (2100kj) in the same- sized person.


© The West Australian

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