How to Get a Solid Workout With the Rowing Machine

You walk into the gym at peak hours. It's evening, so the place is packed. Every piece of equipment has a 30-minute wait.

Then you see it, in the far corner, facing the wall, completely neglected by everyone trotting mindlessly on the treadmills. The rowing machine sits there collecting dust, just daring you to take a ride.

The good news is that in the 30 minutes you'd spend waiting for another piece of equipment, you can get a full-body, high-intensity workout on the rowing machine, or ergometer, as it's commonly referred to by rowers.

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Ben Cohen is a professional strength and conditioning coach who has worked with several championship collegiate teams, including the James Madison University and Louisiana State University football teams, and he currently runs Ben Cohen Athletic Advising.

He is also a big fan of the "erg."

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Cohen has been conducting an extensive, hour-long biomechanical assessment of high-performance athletes for years, and the only ones to ever ace his test are backstroke swimmers and two-handed rowers because "they're always pulling and working the muscles of extension—the muscles that hold you upright and promote good posture."

This is part of the reason he believes the erg is the absolute best piece of cardiovascular equipment an athlete can use.

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Bill Lamb, crew coach of St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia and arguably one of the best programs in the nation, agrees. "It's a machine that allows you to train in every zone, regardless of the sport you're training for."

That one rowing motion: gives you a solid blast of cardio; works out your abs, core and lower back; develops your arms and upper back; as well as improving the flexibility in your hamstrings and calves. Improving those muscle groups will help you in any sport.

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