Roughly half of the American public wants to lose weight or has tried to lose weight. How do we go about it? We know that it takes some combination of diet, exercise, hormones and other factors.
So what do we do? We walk more and try to exercise with increased frequency. We attempt to increase our activity level, join gyms and eat more veggies.
We also cut out calories and garden more and do more pushups, pull-ups, and squats. But have you considered rowing for weight loss?
There is a little machine in your gym somewhere. It has a seat, a slider for that seat, a cable with handles and a wheel. It might also have a lot of dust collected on it.
We call that a rowing machine. And it may be the best way to lose weight. Read on to learn how.
First, let’s look at a concept called muscle activation. Try flexing your bicep. Now, with your bicep flexed, look at your arm as a whole.
Is your bicep the only muscle which turned on? Or did your triceps, shoulder, forearm, chest and back all turn on a little too?
If everything turned on with your bicep, you have headed the right way. Muscle activation is the idea of turning muscles on. In general, the more of them you turn on, the harder the body has to work.
Try doing some simple modified push-ups. Do about five of them, then come back. That was easy, right?
Now go do five more, but this time, try to touch your elbows to your sides on the way up and down. On the way down, think of using your biceps to pull yourself to the ground.
Also, pinch your shoulder blades together at the bottom. And squeeze your glutes and stomach through the whole movement.
The second five should have been much harder because more was activated. And more was recruited.
This brings up the next idea, muscle recruitment. Which is different from activation. Recruitment is how many muscle groups and fibers you use to do a job.
There is a dirty little secret in exercise and fitness. Your body doesn’t care whether it is aesthetically pleasing to others. Your body cares about efficiency and staying alive.
But your body will also do as it is told by your brain. Go back to the pushups you did. The first five were easy because your brain told your body to make them easy.
The second time, they taxed you both mentally and physically. Your brain had to focus on turning on lots of muscles it didn’t need. And your body had quadruple the number of muscle groups working.
Keep these ideas in mind as you start rowing. Your body won’t turn on more than what the brain tells it to. And the brain will seek the easiest route if left to itself.
Instead, you need to make both the brain and the body work harder.
Rowing for Weight Loss Every Day
Now to the important parts. You can, depending on the level of fatigue you chase, row every day. It is important to recruit as many muscle groups as possible to make this exercise effective.
Use your calves, quads, and butt to push away from the footrest. But use your shins, hamstrings and hip flexors to pull you back to the starting position. 50% of the power should come from your legs.
Turn on as many muscles in your entire back on the pull. But use your chest to push the handle out in front of you. About 30% of the force will be in your torso.
Lastly, use those arms and shoulders for the remaining 20%. And use them the same way, not just on the pull, but on the return too.
Remember, the body is lazy, so you will have to think hard at first. But if you put in the effort at the beginning, you will see far more results in the end.
But how can you workout like this every day? You have heard that overuse of a muscle is bad for it.
This is an excellent point. You can’t do 500 pushups at maximum effort today and hope to do as many tomorrow. But you could do 10-20 very easy ones tomorrow after 500 today.
Same with rowing. You can work very hard for 30 minutes today, but tomorrow you would have to take it easy. That doesn’t mean doing them lazily, but going slower and doing fewer strokes each minute.
You can do a ladder or a pyramid on hard days. But then do a slow and steady marathon on easy days.
Make the hard days very hard. Start with 20 strokes a minute and increase by 2 each minute until you hit your goal. Then go back down to 20. Complete that cycle as many times as you can in 30 minutes
Or try starting at 20 a minute, each minute add four up to 32. Take a 15-second rest and start again. But on the easy days keep a steady pace of 12-18 strokes per minute for half as much time.
Posture and Core
The last way to maximize potential is with your posture and core. You want your lower back to help in the pull and keep you upright. Your abs should bring your body forward.
Keep the chest up to allow maximum airflow, and keep your head in line with your spine.
Row to Lose
Rowing for weight loss might be the best exercise you have never done. You may look and feel silly, but you’ll see results. Those results will come faster than with ellipticals, stationary bikes or treadmills.
But remember the brain and body are lazy. They don’t want to work more than they have to. But if you focus on turning on all your muscle groups, rowing will be the full body workout you need.