I needed to find another way to get some cardio work in and at my own schedule, so a while ago I bought a rowing machine.
After some research, I settled on a rowing machine as my general cardio workout of choice. I was able to get a Concept2 indoor rower from a co-worker who was moving.
I was already doing a lot of agility-type drills: shuttle runs, “strip suicides”, and the link. What I needed was the core fitness/endurance base that most of my club mates got with running. For some reason I could do a 15 to 30 minute rowing session with no problem, but got immensely bored with running even 2 miles if I was solo.
With the Concept 2 Rower, I got a workout machine that I actually used. I think a lot of it was the dashboard/chronometer where I could continually see my pace and total meters rowed.
Here’s how the Concept2 site breaks down the muscles used for rowing:
Legs: You begin each stroke with your legs compressed and your shins vertical. You initiate the drive with the powerful muscles of your legs, and finish with your legs fully extended. Rowing promotes both strength and flexibility through this wide range of leg motion.
Arms: At the catch, your arms are outstretched; at the finish of the stroke, they have pulled the handle into your abdomen. As with the legs, this range of motion promotes both strength and flexibility.
Core: chest, back, abs: At the start of the stroke, the power of the legs is connected to the handle by means of the arms and the core muscles of the body. Then the back is more fully involved as it swings open through the middle of the stroke. Finally, the body is stabilized at the finish by the abdominal muscles.
For a detailed description of the muscle groups involved, see this article on rowing machines which includes a graphic of the muscles used.
Why I sold my rowing machine:
Even though I loved the Concept2 Rower and used it regularly, it’s a machine that
takes up a lot of space. One we had kids, I changed the basement from an office and workout room to mainly a playroom with a corner for office space. (That corner went away last year – the laptop at the dining room table will have to suffice now.)
One great thing is that I was able to sell it on eBay for the same price I had purchased it for used 2 years prior – I either got a really great deal when I got it, or it held its value well.
When I head to the gym, however, the rowing machine is always on my workout – either as my warmup or as my cardio and cool down after weight training. I feel that it lets me work through a good range of muscles and provides me with a good cardio workout. There are also web sites that will detail recommended workouts using the Concept 2.
Fencing can already be tough enough on the knees and ankles. If you’re looking for a good, low impact cardio workout, then you would do well to try out one of the various indoor rowing machines (although the Concept2 models tend to garner the highest ratings.)
Where to buy the Concept 2?
You can buy the Concept2 at a number of online outlets. This is often more convenient than picking one up at a fitness equipment store unless you have a truck to haul it off in.
Amazon.com has the Concept2 Model D available for around $900. It’s as good as the Model E (based on what I’ve read) but the Model E goes for $1200 right now.