Why Rowing?

Rowing can get you fit faster than almost any other activity.

Its low impact dynamics can keep you fit and active for a lifetime.

Rowing is probably the most complete exercise of all.

Rowing is almost unique.

  • It uses virtually every muscle in the body, in most cases through the full range of movement of those muscles.
  • It does so with less cyclic movements per minute than effectively any other aerobic exercise, resulting in less wear-and-tear on the body.
  • Although the muscle contractions are often at or near maximal, no gravity shocks the spine, hips, knees or ankles.

During every stroke cycle, you use most of the full range of movement of your legs, buttock muscles, lower and upper back and of course your arms. While these muscles are working the core stabilizers, including the abdominals, are actively transferring the work to the oar handle and balance the boat.

The end result is a true total body exercise which can train strength, plus muscular and cardiovascular endurance, whilst developing core stability and spreading the load over the greatest possible number of joints.

But until now, you could only learn and practice rowing by traveling to a boatshed, usually at odd hours of the early morning.

rowing old sport

Rowing in a lightweight racing scull has a number of unique or nearly unique benefits:

  • Less cyclic movements per minute than virtually any other endurance exercise

  • Minimal shock-load - including NO gravity shocks such as running or walking entail

  • Full range of motion for all or nearly all the major muscle groups

  • Coordination and balance are required, over a large number of joints. Rowing is defined as a highly complex activity - which doesn't mean it's all that difficult, simply that it gives the human brain and nervous system a good challenge (our nervous systems like these challenges - see the section on Muscular Imbalance and Pattern Overload)

  • Rowing is almost unsurpassed as an activity for developing the cardiovascular system

  • Intensive rowing also demands strength. Even moderate rowing by a novice will require - and develop - significant strength.

  • Sculling is a very rhythmic activity - Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympics, described it as the most graceful exercise a man can do, and it is the sculler's rhythm that generates the perception of gracefulness to the observer. For the sculler that rhythm is both extremely enjoyable, and an end in itself

  • The energy cost of rowing is high - that makes it one of the best possible ways for overweight people to lose weight.


So why aren't we all rowing? 

The problems for most of us include the difficulty accessing good stretches of flat water, the high costs both in terms of time involved in learning the sport and then travel to-and-from a boatshed to train, plus the actual cost of equipment. In addition rowing is, or has been until now, an outdoor sport; subject to the vagaries of wind, temperature and excessive ultraviolet light.

What has made it doubly difficult is that until now, rowing machines didn't mimic the physics of a single scull or true rowing shell at all - in fact they actually mimic a boat which doesn't move - so off-water training will make you strong and fit, but never develop the feel, rhythm and benefits of real rowing.