What Does the Rowing Machine Target? 5 Essentials You Need to Know

Notorious for burning up to 50% more calories than the treadmill, rowing machines offer more than just an upper body workout. Effectively targeting all the muscle groups in your back, shoulders, arms and legs, these training machines have become a popular option for building strength and shredding kilos.

The rowing machine is designed to offer a non-impact full body workout, so it’s become an ideal mechanism for fitness enthusiasts with joint and lower back problems. Boosting cadio fitness, muscular strength and endurance and working to tone your muscles, rowing machines can also work in reducing stress levels and building stamina. But like with any fitness machine it’s absolutely essential to use it properly and avoid the common mistakes. Here’s what you need to know about your rowing machine workout.

sport, fitness, lifestyle, technology and people concept - woman with trainer working out on exercise bike in gym

sport, fitness, lifestyle, technology and people concept – woman with trainer working out on exercise bike in gym

1. Building Core Strength and Stamina

When rowing machines are used properly, they are a fantastic training tool for building core strength and stamina. For people that struggle to get-up-and-go, using a rowing machine (also known as a cross trainer) 20 minutes a day can boost endurance. Whilst the workouts may feel exhausting at first, the long term benefits of giving you more energy, building stamina and you metabolism are huge.

Because the rowing machine works all your major muscle groups it helps to define your abs and build muscles around the area. Your core strength is one of these targeted groups of muscles and through the low-impact, high intensity workouts offered by the cross trainer it’s possible to get maximum results.

Tip: If you’re looking to build core strength and stamina through a rowing machine, opt for a higher intensity exercise so it isn’t just the cardio you’re working on.  The impact on your abs and core is based on the strength of your rowing so the harder the workout, the better it will work for this area.

2. Toning Arms and Legs

Rowing machines are ideal for both an upper body and lower body workout. Because the machine forces you to ‘row’ the arms are used extensively and muscles in this area will begin to tone (particularly the biceps and forearms).  As you pull, your back muscles help to complete the rowing technique with your shoulder blades retracting together.

The rowing stroke should behind with the legs – the most powerful part of the body, with your back kept straight throughout. As the machine starts to utilise every major muscle group, your arms, back and legs muscles will activate and tone over time.

Tip: If you want to increase the rate of which you build and tone muscle, adjust the rowing machine to create a tighter resistance. With the right workouts and technique, this can help to tone your arms and legs quicker.

3. Strengthening Back Muscles

The benefits of a stronger back and shoulders are great for improving posture and eliminating back pain. Because rowing machines work the back and shoulder muscles, it doesn’t take long for this area to strengthen and better support the rest of your body.

The trapezius in the lower and upper back as well as the rhomboids in your shoulder will receive a great workout. Whilst the cross trainer workout starts with driving through the legs and engaging your quads, your upper body and back muscles are involved at the end of the extension.

Tip: People often make the mistake of driving hard with the legs and keeping the shoulders in front of the hips so that that when the slide stops the rest of the body swings through. This can be hard on the lower back so aim for everything to end at the same time in a fluid motion for best results.

4. Know What Settings to Work

The damper setting (like the gears of a bicycle) should be set for 3-5 for the best workout. Many people make the mistake of setting it to 10, especially athletes, because the higher number gives the impression the workout will be more challenging. Really the challenge lies in the ability to accelerate the flywheel at a lower damper setting as the higher setting will mimic a slow heavy rowboat instead. This will only exhaust your muscles before you’ve had a shot at a proper cardio workout. Keeping it set for 3-5 will give the feeling similar to being on water, like a rowing machine is intended for.

The resistance setting will determine how much energy you use on each stroke. This dial is on the machine’s flywheel and should be high enough to maintain a fast, smooth rowing motion. Setting it too low will give a workout that doesn’t tone or strengthen, whilst setting it too high can result in muscle fatigue and injury.

5. Avoid the Biggest Cross Trainer Mistakes

  • Don’t row with only your arms: Use the power of your legs for each stroke and keep your feet strapped in. Pull through with your back, shoulders and arms for a full body workout.
  • Don’t hunch your back during strokes: Keep your back straight and sit tall with a straight posture to avoid damage. Keep your core engaged to help with the potions and put your spine in neutral.
  • Don’t ignore the stroke rate: Stroke rates build a better workout and determine how hard you’re pulling. To focus on the power of spinning the flywheel, think of a rowing ratio of 1 beat for every 2 beats you travel up the slide. For example: A good target stroke, measured in strokes per minute) will range between 24-30.
  • Don’t ignore the foot strap: It should be fastened so your feet feel very secure. This can make a massive difference when it comes to pushing your legs for power.

Author Bio

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson who recommends Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment and cross trainers in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Cross Trainer vs. Treadmill for Burning Calories: Which One Should You Be Using?

Finding the best workout plan to burn calories tends to be the highest fitness goal. But with the busy lifestyles we lead and the limited amount of time we have to actually get it done, people want – and need to – get the results fast in order to maintain a healthy level of enthusiasm. And the right machine plays a huge role in achieving your fitness goals as quick as possible.

You walk into the fitness club or the store for your next home gym purchase and you see the usual assortment of cardio equipment. Which exercise machine do you pick to burn calories in the shortest amount of time? Cardio machines are perfect for giving you the ultimate workout to shred some kilos without leaving the comfort of your home. Two of the best examples of these machines, the treadmill and the elliptical cross trainer, are subjects of an ongoing debate to determine which will give you the most effective cardio workout. Here’s a few tips to find out what one you should be using:

1. Cranking Up the Cross Trainer

Elliptical cross trainers have boomed in popularity because they are highly variable in their workout opportunities and burn a decent amount of calories. Perfect for fitness enthusiasts at any level, they decrease the impact on your bones and joints by engaging more on your muscle groups making them an ideal machine option for people with previous or ongoing injuries.

Man and woman with elliptical cross trainer at gym

It’s this comfort that makes the cross trainer such a versatile and valued exercise machine. They have more workout options than most other machines, building on strength as well as cardio. For the best cardio workout you’ll want the machine to be on high resistance. This is more important that working out at a fast pace when it comes to cross trainers and burning calories.

If a cross trainer is more suited to your fitness goals and health needs, opt for one with handles. This allows you to pump your arms as you move which is highly advised to do. By adding this movement to your workout, your upper body muscles will be engaged and this will help burn more calories.

2. Tackling the Treadmill

Ideal for extreme cardio lovers and those that thrive off running, treadmills have the potential to burn a lot of body fat. Running (or jogging) involves a good full-body workout and if you choose a speed setting that challenges you, it’s one of the best ways to burn a significant amount of calories.

Treadmills offer both low and high impact cardio workouts from slow walks at a controlled pace to runs and sprints and full potential. These machines allow you to set your desired speed and incline and because you’re forced to keep up with the moving belt, treadmills are slightly better for burning calories. This is due to the machine holding you at an intensified level. To burn the most amount of calories in the shortest time frame you’ll want to maintain an incline grade of at least 1-2%.

People running on treadmills

3. Essential Considerations

The problem with cardio workouts is it doesn’t take long for your body to become immune to the workout. As you get comfortable in your fitness plan, you’ll burn less calories because the resistance has diminished. This is why, regardless of what exercise machine you choose, it’s essential your cardio workouts are mixed up to continually challenge your body and keep burning more calories.

Other factors that can impact your ability to shred kilos on either exercise machines include your level of cardio fitness, the weight you’re sitting on now, how intense the workout is and how long you’re working out for. Once your body is at ease with the cardio workout; change the dynamics, speed and intensity of what you’re doing – the higher the resistance the more effective it’ll be.

4. Crunching Calories

The primary reason why many choose the cross trainer over the treadmill is because they don’t enjoy running – whether it’s because of injuries or just the fact that jogging and running isn’t their thing. But if you crave variety and strength building too, then make sure you focus on maintaining a moderate to high intensity. This way the cross trainer can still provide an excellent calorie burning workout (around 600-800 calories per hour). Choose the right settings for your body type and use intervals. Because the cross trainer is one of the easiest machines to just ‘tune out’ on, make sure you focus on your workout and avoid hanging onto the support bars as this won’t help in crunching calories at all!

On average, the treadmill will burn 600-1200 calories per hour between jogging, walking uphill, sprinting and running. To effectively burn calories quickly keep interchanging; start with a slow warm up for 2-3 minutes and break into a run for 3-6 minutes, sprint for 6-7 minutes, run for 7-10, sprint for 10 etc. Ideally you want to commit to a 20-30 minute workout at least. Keep workouts intense and build bone density and shred calories by elevating the incline on the treadmill.

Despite the cross trainer ticking a variety of fitness boxes, there’s still greater weight loss benefits with a treadmill. Mixing between the two exercise machines at the gym though can get all muscle groups moving and keep your cardio workouts spontaneous and intense. Invest in a heart rate monitor and maintain a solid awareness of your intensity levels to ensure you’re burning the most amount of calories – regardless of the machine you choose.

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Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Optimal Workout Equipment Settings for Your Fitness Goals

Young fit woman rowing indoor on a rowing machine

With the range of equipment on the market these days it’s important you’re not just choosing the right workout piece, but engaging in the right settings to achieve your goals too. Whether you want to push for weight loss with summer around the corner or need to build muscle tone and strength, sometimes the ‘right’ equipment can be very wrong for you when you’re not using it properly.

Regardless of it you love training at the gym or you’ve purchased a few key workout pieces to set up in your home gym, finding the optimal settings can help kick those fitness goals more effectively. Get more out of what you’re using with these tips:

1. Exercise Bikes

Getting fit for summer on an exercise bike is a popular option because of the level of comfort it provides. Great for those that prefer to sit down whilst exercising, this piece will help to burn calories and boost cardio exercise. For those that want an extra level of support on the exercise bike, recumbent bikes are designed to have a reclined body seat and pedals in front of the bike instead of under the body like a regular bike. This offers the use more comfort and a better leg workout.

To get the most out of your workout, you’ll want the speed level to sit between 80-100 RPM. It’s crucial you don’t pedal at the same speed for the full workout though – especially if you’re wanting to burn calories. Instead, mix it up by riding at lower speed (50-70 RPM) and then crank to 120-140 RPM. The lower speeds will help to build leg muscle, whilst the switch to more intense speeds will assist in shredding weight and boost endurance.

You’ll also want to consider the resistance and heart rate monitor settings. By alternating between low and medium resistance settings, fat-burning will happen quicker. For the most effective workout, keep your heart rate between 50-85%.

2. Treadmills

If you’re looking to build muscles in your calves, quads and glutes your treadmill should be set to 9% incline. This is the ideal setting for marathon training, boosting endurance and slashing kilos too and will give you that burning sensation in your legs after a workout. If you’re just looking to boost those running skills though, a simple 1.5% incline will mimic outdoor running. For extreme marathon or steep hike training change the incline closer to 15%.

Both the speed and incline of the treadmill should never be too high where you find yourself walking, sprinting or running without moving your hands. Like with the exercise bike, you want to switch your speed and incline settings to mix the workout up. This will save your body getting too comfortable in a certain setting – as soon as you’re ‘comfortable’ your body is burning less calories! To build endurance, use high-intensity workouts and switch between a 4-5% to a 0% incline during various running intervals. Walkers and slow joggers will only need to a speed of 10-12km/h whilst serious joggers and runners should go for 16-20km/h.

3. Elliptical Machines

A steady 20 minute workout on an elliptical machine can shred that extra weight and get your heart rate up, boosting endurance and strength training.  But to get the full effect, the right settings are important. As far as cardio equipment goes elliptical machines, also known as cross trainers, are the powerhouse of cardio equipment; having the potential to burn 270-400 calories in less than 30 minutes.

Interval workouts are the best on these machines to boost metabolism and burn more calories. Because it gets your whole body moving, it’s ideal for strength training too. To boost strength and improve weight loss, the resistance of the machine needs to be increased – the more you turn that dial up, the more strength you’ll be building.

For a medium workout on the cross trainer, aim for a RPM of 90. Keep increasing the resistance and incline though to ensure your heart rate is high. For a full-intensity hard work out to get everything burning (including calories!) you can still go for a 90 RPM but aim for a maximum heart rate between 90-100%, as opposed to a medium work out of 85-90%. Resistance is key to achieving fitness goals on a cross trainer; once this level is bumped up, your arms and legs have to work harder to keep the machine moving. This offers a full body workout to build endurance and strength. For a more intense interval, adjust the incline to a higher level too.

4. Rowing Machine

These machines have a reputation for offering a low-impact workout that increases stamina, builds on muscle strength and drops those calories. The biggest problem with this machine is users tend to forget the damper setting – a crucial lever on the side of the rower’s wheel that can give you a solid cardio workout.

Before using this setting, make sure your rowing form is in top notch. Like gears on a bicycle, the damper setting will offer a heavier feel on the body the higher the gear. Start it on between 3-5 which will mimic the feeling of rowing in the water, and build it up to power your legs and upper body. You should feel it working your legs, butt, arms and back muscles.
Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Top 10 Ways To Slash Calories Quickly

If you’re aiming to lose fat rapidly, one thing that you must pay attention to is your calorie intake. Your calorie intake does dictate whether you gain or lose body fat, so it’s vital that you get it set up correctly.

This said, cutting calories doesn’t mean going on some starvation diet. Let’s look at a few simple and easy methods to slash calories painlessly so that you can enhance your progress.  Be sure to check out LiveLighter for more help formulating a proper diet plan.

Swap Milk For Cream In Your Coffee

Cream is far too high in fat and calories to be a part of your regular diet – go for milk in your coffee instead.

Opt For Ground Turkey Rather Than Ground Beef

Ground turkey is a very lean protein source and can be used in all the same ways that ground beef can be utilized.  Make meatballs with it today.

Go With Egg Whites Rather Than A Bagel

Egg whites are a great source of protein and will get your day started off right – and help you avoid that mid-morning crash that you’d have if you had eaten a bagel.

Choose Sweet Potatoes Over Pasta

Sweet potatoes are far higher in good nutrition and vitamins compared to pasta and won’t encourage fat gain.  Serve them with some salsa on the side.

Go For Fresh Fruit Rather Than Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is rich in sugar and calories and lacks the dietary fiber that real fruit provides.

Choose Fish Over Beef

Fish is a lower calorie, high protein option when aiming to lose weight. Choose it over beef more regularly.

Eat Oatmeal Rather Than Cold Cereal

Oatmeal is a slow burning carbohydrate that’s low in calories and full of fiber. Opt for it rather than cold cereal more often.

Opt For Squash Over Potatoes

Squash is a lower calorie option to regular potatoes, which are ranked high on the GI index. Opt for squash more often to slash calories quickly.

Choose Green Tea Over Gourmet Coffee

Green tea is full of antioxidants and will even boost your metabolic rate to a small degree as well. Gourmet coffee, on the other hand is loaded with calories and not a superior choice.

Choose Greek Yogurt Over Mayonnaise

If you need to use mayonnaise in any of your recipes, try going for Greek yogurt instead. it’s rich in protein, low in sugar, and a far more ideal option.

Use all of these swaps and you’ll be eaten leaner in no time.

…now try these workouts from eFit30

Can You Lose Weight Doing Pilates?

If you’ve set the goal to focus on fat loss for the time being, you may be wondering whether you can in fact lose weight by doing pilates training.  Will pilates provide enough of a total calorie burn in order to get weight loss taking place or do you need to succumb to doing cardio or resistance training instead?

In order to answer this question, there are a few things that you need to know and consider.

The Calorie Burn Factor

The very first thing that you must know and remember is the calorie burn factor. Basically, how many calories does a pilates session burn?

If you do pilates quite intensely, you can burn anywhere for 200-400 calories per hour, depending on the particular exercises that you’re doing and how much rest you’re using between each exercise.

The faster paced the workout is, generally speaking, the higher your calorie burn is going to be.

The Muscle Enhancement Factor

Second, one thing that you must remember about pilates is the fact that it will also help to enhance your degree of muscle mass.   Because it is strength training oriented, if you go on to increase your total lean body weight because of that pilates session, this can mean that you will see an enhanced resting metabolic rate, meaning you’ll burn more calories 24/7.

This helps significantly with fat loss results, so not something to be overlooked.  The faster your metabolism is on a day to day basis, the faster you will see success.

The Diet Factor

Finally, the last thing to consider when questioning whether or not pilates can be used for fat loss results is the diet that you’re using.

Always remember that when it comes to seeing optimal fat burning, diet is king. If you can focus on making sure you’re taking in the right amount of calories with your diet plan, then you don’t need to worry as much about how many calories a particular exercise you’re doing is burning since the diet alone will take care of things.  If you need help setting up a diet, be sure to check out LiveLighter for assistance.

Then you can simply focus on the strengthening benefits that pilates provides.

So there you have the primary points to remember. If you perform your pilates sessions with a good intensity level and make sure that you are also following an optimal diet plan, then you can definitely get the results that you’re hoping for from your pilates workout.

Start here and try these pilates workouts from Elizabeth Wilson at Perth Pilates Studio!

So you think snacking is bad??

Snacking between meals has been given a bad reputation. Many people believe that if you are going to lose weight or diet that there is no place for snacking and that sticking to 3 meals a day will lead to weight loss.

Losing weight does not mean that you have to feel starving hungry all day. It is not the snacks that are the problem it is what we are choosing to snack on that is often laden with extra calories.

Most of us will choose crunchy, salty foods such as nuts, pretzels chips cakes and cookies. When the energy levels run low through the day that dose of sugar may make you feel better for a short time but will quickly lead to weight gain and other more serious health issues.

Snacks need not be a guilty pleasure they can be incorporated into your weight loss plan.

  • Plan your snacks so you are not left reaching for the biscuits.
  • Think of the calories. 1 banana is more calories than but 40 blueberries.
  • Don’t drink your calories stick to water and avoid soft drinks.
  • Swap sugar laden snacks for fruit.
  • Swap a chocolate bar for a small low fat chocolate drink.
  • Eat berries full of antioxidants instead of lollies full of sugar.
  • Have frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.

Foods with a higher fibre and water content will have fewer KJ. Choose from fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts (unsalted) and seeds and low fat dairy products.

Keep a food diary and write down everything. This way you can see if your snacking is healthy and encourages us to consume less calories and make better choices.

Remember to keep a balance and moderation in mind when choosing your snacks and you will find you will not only feel better but your waistline will thank you.