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.

Burn Fat Fast With HIIT

Fitness by HIF Health Expert and Gabriel Method Fitness Coach Brian Killian

What I’m writing about today I’m hoping you will take on board and change the way you exercise forever.

If I was tell you with only 8 minutes of exercise every 3 days, you can help turn your body into a fat-burning super engine, would you be interested? If so, read on.

I worked out very early in life I was blessed with some speed in my legs. With older brothers this ability to run fast came in very handy, and I’ve used it to enjoy a fun athletics career. However it’s the type of training I did and its effect on my body shape, which I want to pay closer attention to.

Fortunately I am and have always been fairly lean, but have definitely not always eaten the right foods. With 3 kids, a wife, a business, I am no stranger to stress either, and come from a family who are all shapes and sizes. So what is it I’m doing which helps to keep my body fat levels down?

The answer is HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT), and you can do it too!

What is HIIT?

A typical HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by 6 to 10 repetitions of high intensity exercise [EFFORT], separated by low to medium intensity exercise [REST], and ending with a period of cool down exercise.

The EFFORT should be done at close to your maximum intensity, with the REST being no more than 50% intensity.  One proven protocol for HIIT sets a 2:1 ratio of EFFORT to REST periods.

For example, 30 seconds of hard sprinting or your fastest walking, alternated with 15 seconds of jogging or slower walking. You perform this cycle 6 to 10 times. This protocol can be used effectively for swimming, skipping, cycling or any other form of aerobic type exercise you enjoy.

My own training experience, and that of the body shape displayed by sprint athletes, suggests this short, intense training is effective in encouraging your brain to reduce body fat and lay down muscle tissue.

But why? The key is HIIT tricks your brain into initiating your Fight/Flight stress response and as a result a cascade of hormones are released. These hormones cause a liberation of fat, an increase in muscle tissue and an improvement in aerobic capacity, even while you’re resting. Let me explain this in more detail.

FACT: Exercise is stress on your body. Your brain must always  interpret any stress, respond to this stress and subsequently adapt to it. Regardless of the origin of the stress, your brain interprets ALL as a physical threat and responds. For example when nervous I have the sensation of ‘butterflies in my stomach’, now I’m pretty sure there aren’t any in there but it sure feels like it! This is just one example of the direct correlation between a mental stress and a physical response, and it happens all the time.

HIIT is a stress on your body, it’s high intensity, short and powerful and very similar to the stress say, if you were getting chased by a predator or fighting for your life. Your brain adapts to this stress, that is, it prepares your body to reduce the risk of this type of threat ending your life. Your brain wants to keep you alive, that’s its job. So it’s appropriate then for you to be faster, stronger, leaner so you don’t get caught by the predator or you can fight off the predator, otherwise you’re dead. Your brain is in control, it controls what hormones are released, and it responds to HIIT by releasing the hormones which make you slimmer, faster and stronger.

 A word of warning though, HIIT may result in injury. The protocol I suggested isn’t set in stone, if you need more REST have it. The key is in the EFFORT and doing it once, twice or eight times doesn’t really matter, do what you can at your present level of fitness and health. Always warm-up appropriately and check you’re performing the exercises correctly and safely.

Warm regards

 

Brian Killian

Try this 15 minute routine at home now. You will need a fit ball.

Your motivation tactics

The infectious energy I gain from the beach motivates me to run!

The infectious energy I gain from the beach motivates me to run!

Have you ever begun an exercise program full of determination and excitement, only to feel your motivation being sucked away after on a few days? You aren’t alone, even the most motivated of us all go through slumps. Don’t lose hope. All you need are some tactics to get you back on track. Here are some to get you on your way.

 Set a goal 

Make a SMART goal, focus on it, work hard, achieve it, reward yourself and set another goal. Check my previous post for more on this one and remember to enjoy each aspect of the journey along the way.

Make it a routine

Commit to your exercise and schedule it daily, you know how good it will make you feel.

Make exercise fun and change it up! GET EXCITED

Exercise doesn’t need to involve slogging it out in a sweaty gym. Listen to your inner voice.. What activities do you feel passionate about? Use that to help determine your workout. Your body loves the challenge of using different muscle groups too!

Find inspiration.

It’s everywhere and anywhere. Get creative!

Tell others and get support.

Friends, family, online forums or personal trainers can provide you with the encouraged you need!

Acknowledge that there’s an ebb and flow.

Like the tide, motivation comes and goes. It’s not permanent and it will come back.

Stick with it.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. This is a journey; roll over the bumps in the road and just ride with it. You’ll get there in the end.

Think about the benefits, not the difficulties.  Replace negative thoughts with positive ones..

Reward yourself for successes

We all love being rewarded, what have you been wanting to do, see or buy? Maybe just just the feeling of success if enough of a reward for you. It’s your journey, your choice.

 

Your daily motivation

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Have you ever begun an exercise program full of determination and excitement, only to feel your motivation being sucked away after on a few days? You aren’t alone, even the most motivated of us all go through slumps. Don’t lose hope. All you need are some tactics to get you back on track. Here are some to get you on your way.

 Set a goal 

Make a SMART goal, focus on it, work hard, achieve it, reward yourself and set another goal. Check my previous post for more on this one and remember to enjoy each aspect of the journey along the way.

Make it a routine

Commit to your exercise and schedule it daily, you know how good it will make you feel.

Make exercise fun and change it up! GET EXCITED

Exercise doesn’t need to involve slogging it out in a sweaty gym. Listen to your inner voice.. What activities do you feel passionate about? Use that to help determine your workout. Your body loves the challenge of using different muscle groups too!

Find inspiration.

It’s everywhere and anywhere. Get creative!

Tell others and get support.

Friends, family, online forums or personal trainers can provide you with the encouraged you need!

Acknowledge that there’s an ebb and flow.

Like the tide, motivation comes and goes. It’s not permanent and it will come back.

Stick with it.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. This is a journey; roll over the bumps in the road and just ride with it. You’ll get there in the end.

Think about the benefits, not the difficulties.  Replace negative thoughts with positive ones..

Reward yourself for successes

We all love being rewarded, what have you been wanting to do, see or buy? Maybe just just the feeling of success if enough of a reward for you. It’s your journey, your choice.

 

The S.M.A.R.T.S of goal setting

As a passionate runner and personal trainer, I am a big believer of goal setting. I am constantly setting, achieving and dreaming up new goals to work towards. Goals keep you driven and inspired, whether they are own health and fitness goals, career goals, money goals or relationship goals…

Today I am going to share with you a simple method of setting fitness goals so YOU can set, work towards and achieve your own goals, whatever they may be.

Specific: Setting specific goals is crucial for success. Write your goals down, including factors such as who is involved in your goal? What is your main objective? When will you achieve it by? Where will you train and achieve your goal? Why do you want to accomplish your goal? This will provide clarity, helping you focus on your goals.

Measurable: How are you going to measure your goal? Will your goal be a number on the scales or a certain time in a run? Measuring your process along the way is also very important. This will allow you to experience a sense of achievement when on track and motivate you to continue working towards your main goal.

Attainable: Is your goal within reach? Do you have the ability, attitude and skills needed to accomplish it? Your goals should be challenging, yet attainable. Goals which are too big and ambiguous can often lead to failure, which can be discouraging.

Realistic: Ensure that your goal will suit your lifestyle and the amount of time you actually have. You need to be able to believe that you will be able to achieve your goal!

Timely: Setting a time frame in which you will be able to achieve your goal in (such as a certain date or a significant life event) will make you to commit to your goal and provide a urgency. Also, get started NOW, there is no better time!

Display your written goals in a place you will see them regularly will help to remind you of your commitment.

Sharing your goals with trusted friends or family is important will allow them to support you through your journey and make you feel accountable. Tough times may present themselves, so use the ups to power through the downs so you can maintain focussed. These will make you stronger and more resilient.

iStock_000014036854SmallLastly, reward yourself along the way, as well as when you reach your main goal. Rewards do not have to be anything extravagant. Smaller, more frequent rewards (such as a fitness magazine or a massage) for a successful week of training may be enough to encourage you do that workout, despite being fatigued or time poor. When first setting your goals, have a think about something that is important to you. Is there somewhere you have always wanted to go? Or something you have wanted to do or buy or feel? Having something special to work towards can be enough to get you out of bed or help you push through that hard set, despite being exhausted, sweat (and awesome!).

Until next time, train hard, hydrate well and nourish your body wisely.

Happy goal setting!

x Moira

 

 

 

 

 

The Mind of a Champion

The Olympics is so much more than simply the pursuit of taking home a medal. It is not about which country brings home the most wins. The conscious passion of the athletes to share their best generates a magnetic energy that spreads beyond measurement. The intense focus on the present moment…each moment of each move could be the “make or break” in the delivery of skills. A few moments of pondering a less than ideal prior move can and does impair the next one. Conscious living is no different.

Yoga is an outstanding source to practice active consciousness. In a day of routines, you breathe, digest, walk and even think without effort. It is the easy way to live. Problem is…it gets boring and habitual. Even worse, monotony drowns drive. It is estimated that our minds are used 10% at the conscious level and the rest resides in the unconscious. What you percolate in the conscious level sinks into the subconscious. Once there, the body’s chemicals, hormones, and cells respond in physical mode. Think you won’t ever be able to do a certain yoga pose? Well, if you think it, you’re correct. Want to blame your genes for challenges? Go ahead…those neurotransmitters of energy will nourish that challenge. But, wait…you are stronger than you think.

Do you think an Olympian goes to the games with the thought that they are going to lose? Of course not. They go with intention to give the best of the skills that they have honed for a long time. They trust their best can match the best of their opponent. To do this, they must become the master of their zone. (mind) When you practice yoga, if you just let the mind express its doubts, past conversations and justifications, you lose the practice. It is so much more than the physical moves. Achieving certain moves comes with practice.

Mastering the mind is what really starts the changes you actually seek. Exercise the mind with higher frequencies…positive thoughts, passions and compassion. It requires effort to be conscious. It is easier to let whatever drifts in the mind via others words or energies; however, there are consequences. Ever notice how you feel after watching the news? Did watching it change the world? The only world it changed was the one you reside in. To change it, you have to consciously release it.

I wonder if one was to increase their consciousness from 10% to 20%…what could manifest? It makes me wonder if our evolution as human beings is still in its infancy? We got the body evolved to a good place; but the brain appears to have some growing pains. Each of us can evolve, expand awareness and make positive changes with thought. Yoga, to me, is the Olympics for mankind. The champions are unlimited. The medals of gold lay in the hearts. It really is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game…of life. Play with passion and see what you win.

Go to the mat with the mind and heart of an Olympian. Be present. Be aware of every breath and every sensation. Train the mind to get in the yoga zone. The subconscious will happily receive what comes its way. It is at your mercy; but, ironically, it gives back what you feed it…so make it good. I know its not easy, but nothing great emerged without effort. If greatness was easy…well, it wouldn’t be great. When should you start? No time like now. It is your choice.

Carpe Diem: Seize the day…it really is all we have.
Disce ut semper victurus, vive ut cras moriturus: Learn as if you’re going to live forever; live as if you’re going to die tomorrow.

Both very wise Latin words from the generations of the not so distant past. Champions of history are quoted, emulated and remembered because they had the courage (heart) and passion (endurance) and faith (to believe) to consciously live. True champions of all fields…medicine, language, spiritual awareness, science and beyond…inspired others to learn more. Let the champion within you emerge so you can play your best in this ever evolving experience we call life. You never know…you just might be the shoulders someone else stands on to see further!

by Valerie Goodman

Staying Motivated to Exercise!

Getting motivated to exercise sounds easy. We all get excited when we make the decision to finally do something to get fit and healthy and to improve our appearance by losing those few extra pounds!

For most of us that motivation remains right up until the moment our alarm goes off to get up early and start our program. Or on that first day that you have decided to start the healthy eating program and you have a morning tea with your girlfriends and they are all eating cake. There goes that motivation, at least for today.

So why is it that we can’t seem to get started and why is it some people seem to have no trouble? Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-orientated behaviors. It is the reason we act.

There are three components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation is the easiest part, which involves making the decision to start exercising or eating well. Then comes the effort required to persist towards your set goal even through obstacles such as having no time, feeling tired, it’s raining need I go on we all know about the obstacles! Lastly is the intensity or the vigor at which someone will pursue his or her goal. Some people may choose to enlist help such as a personal trainer or group to keep them motivated whereas someone else will just do their own thing and seem to have no trouble keeping to their program.

The problem is motivation does not just happen. We have to make it happen. We need to create a goal that in our mind is extremely important to us. If you say you want to lose 5 kilos for example it is the why that gets you motivated. I want to lose 5 kilos as I have a wedding dress to fit into! I want to lose weight so I can stay healthy for my children. Anything that will give you a reason to get up every day and exercise and say no to that cake. It is actually easier if you set smaller goals and then as you achieve them set another one. Have more than one goal.

If you have 20kg to lose imagine how overwhelming that is when you struggle all week exercising and eating well to only lose 500gm? But what if you set yourself a goal of losing 5kg at a time it seems much more manageable. 500gm loss is a good result. Don’t deprive yourself and have such a restrictive diet that you can’t follow it. Make changes that you can live that are going to move you towards your goal. Losing weight or gaining muscle tone is a process that takes time, it is  not a spectacular event that suddenly occurs.

We all have very valid reasons for why we may not be able to make time to fit in exercise or why we will start our diet tomorrow but maybe by setting out some goals and putting them in writing and treat your exercise like you would a Drs appointment. Write it in your diary and do it.  Each day that you follow through will make it easier the next day. It is easy to do something when you feel like it but if you can do it when you don’t feel like it that is when it will make the difference.

Enlist the help of those around you such as your friends, family or colleagues. Maybe your friends would enjoy going for a walk or doing an exercise routine rather than having an unhealthy morning tea. Maybe they just need you to help get them motivated!

If like me you find it difficult to get to the gym or get out and exercise try the eFit30 exercise videos that you can do at home in your own time.