Rowing is a full-body exercise that requires muscular effort on the legs, glutes, lower back, upper back, shoulders, arms and abdomen . This is a very effective type of exercise because it works a large number of muscles at the same time, thus allowing for a complete workout in a relatively short period.
Also, while rowing, calorie consumption is very high , which explains why rowing is a great way to improve body composition by reducing fat mass and facilitating weight loss.
The benefits of indoor rowing
However, rowing is not a sport exactly accessible to many, as it requires the presence of at least one rowing club – and therefore the presence of any body of water large enough to practice this sport, which not all cities have. .
Yet we find very often, within the premises of most fitness clubs, one or more rowing machines, more commonly called rowing machines, sometimes very little used .
No wonder . Rowing comes from an athletic gesture, rowing, which is certainly not as spontaneous as pedaling or walking; there is a right technique to learn, which sometimes not even an average fitness coach knows perfectly. In each stroke, there is a combined activation of three different parts of the body , which must work in unison.
The work of the ” core ” in this sport is certainly essential as it represents, together with the activation of the buttocks, the keystone between the work done by the lower part (leg extension) and upper body (trunk extension and subsequent flexion) of the arms). This movement, if performed incorrectly, can cause serious trauma, starting with lumbago, lumbosclerosis, piriformis syndrome and herniated discs , the most feared injuries by every rower in the world .
At the same time, even in the best rowing machines on the market, they are always there more or less significant differences compared to the real conditions of rowing in the water , which in the long run can cause an inevitable overload for the musculoskeletal districts most involved in the rowing gesture.
Let’s find out what are the substantial differences between indoor and outdoor rowing.
1. Water resistance
The moment the rower puts the oars in the water, the acceleration phase begins . Then the rower must pull the oars as much as possible expressing the highest power values. The greater the force applied and the speed of the stroke, the greater the power achieved during the technical gesture.
Clearly, the more homogeneous the resistance offered by the rower is from the beginning to the end of the movement, the greater the similarity with the sensation of the oars in the water, and therefore the possibility for the athlete to train and refine an effective and powerful gesture .
Unfortunately, this rarely happens in most rowing machines on the market , as they are built with mechanical components which, due to their shape or assembly, involve more or less marked rowing defects, compromising the overall quality of the rowing sensation.
2. Catch slip
Directly related to the feeling of resistance in the water, we find that one of the main flaws of the indoor rowing machine, the so-called ” catch slip “. This theme has found fertile ground in sports literature, as evidenced by numerous scientific studies and interviews with famous Olympic athletes.
What is the catch slip? In short, catch slip is the delay in the rower’s expression of resistance at the start of the stroke. From the moment the traction phase begins, the resistance is often not instantaneous as it happens in water. This causes the handle to move quickly and then slow down after a few centimeters , due to the more or less sudden encounter of resistance. This irregularity, although present but very minimal in the water, produces a “whiplash” on the spine, which in the long run is extremely harmful to the health of the athlete .
3. Body weight inertia of the rower
In the most common rowing machines, the platform remains fixed to the frame and the athlete’s body pushed backwards during the traction phase. In a real boat, however, the platform remains fixed with the boat, but the entire boat floats on a fluid . If there were no paddles (“fixed” in the water), the athlete would push the boat backwards with his feet , contrary to the direction of travel of the boat.
This difference in the “physical model of movement” generates inertial forces on the simulator which are added to those actually existing and which are discharged mainly in the upper part of the body, in particular on the spine .
According to many, the solution could be represented by the so-called “dynamic” rower, in which the athlete’s body remains more or less stationary with respect to the machine . On a global level, however, this rower has a resistance delivery less similar to that of a rowing boat, generally resulting in “lighter” overall effort.
The dynamic rowing machine also allows a higher frequency of strokes and requires a high level of rowing technique (unfortunately not very common in the world of fitness); for these reasons it has a diffusion mainly in the world of sport for specific uses ( recovery from injuries , for example) or in training to improve the aerobic and anaerobic performance of athletes.
The solution of a static rowing machine with air resistance is today the most commonly adopted both in fitness and in sports environments (so much so that they are also used within national and international Federations for the official evaluations and tests of individual athletes ).
SKILLROW, a dive into the world of rowers
To make the world of indoor rowing less hostile to newbies and to bring back the many benefits associated with indoor rowing , we at Technogym have decided to speak directly with elite athletes, trying to understand where and how a rower can make a difference. . We designed and tested a rowing machine with them that would combine their experience and sensitivity, in order to bring the benefits of outdoor training to an indoor environment.
When choosing the most suitable rowing machine for sports training, it is essential to pay attention not only to the intensity of resistance , but also to the quality of the resistance offered by the rower , to make it as similar as possible to what they will then find on the water.
The result of these tests is Technogym’s SKILLROW , a technologically advanced rowing machine that, responding to the requests of these athletes, makes it the best rowing machine for indoor athletic training, thanks above all to its innovative technology called AQUAFEEL.