The Nature of Rowing

The Nature of Rowing (Page 1 of 4)

Rowing has long been recognized as the perfect aerobic exercise;

Smooth, non-load bearing, rhythmic, whole body and low impact.

It is ideal for any user regardless of age, sex, or physical condition.

"Rowing, indoors or outdoors, at any exercise level of intensity, requires a greater exercise expenditure than any other aerobic activity. Calories are burned in relation to the number of muscles used and the intensity and duration of the exercise. Rowing with a sliding seat uses a very large muscle mass since the upper, lower and trunk muscles are used vigorously"
 Dr. C Everett Koop- Former US Surgeon General



The exercise of rowing relates to the work done by an oars-person to move a boat through the water. An increase in effort by the oars-person will result in a faster boat. As the speed increases so does the drag acting on the boat, this requires the oars-person to work harder in order to maintain boat speed. This effort by the oars-person is achieved by recruiting all major muscle groups sequentially to form a continuous even stroke. When rowing, the connection between the oars-person and the moving water is an immersed paddle, this natural fluid connection results in a smooth, low impact form of exercise.  


The nature of rowing is pleasurable - a past-time which invigorates the body while relaxing the mind.


Too often, this relaxation element is missing on conventional mechanical rowing machines.


A more detailed explanation of the nature of rowing follows.


Naturally Self Paced

Contrary to popular opinion, rowing - like other forms of aerobic exercise - is not a resistance based exercise.  You do not change resistance when you run, swim, cycle or cross-country ski - you can't. 

Rowing and aerobic based exercise is about intensity. You work at your desired intensity and you and your equipment move at a speed which is equal to the intensity of work being done. If you increase your intensity you go faster. The limit to your intensity is you, your physiology, your ability to reach and maintain a level of work.

This is the naturally self paced nature of rowing and aerobic sport.

When rowing, the boat does not impose a resistance on you, you impose the work on the boat. If you increase your work the boat will move faster. The limit to how fast the boat will move is you, your physiology, your ability to reach and maintain a level of work.

Ultimately, the more you put in to it, the more you'll get out of it.


Natural Drag Effect

When an oars-person rows, the work they do is absorbed by the drag of the boat moving through the water. The more intensively they work, the more drag they overcome and the faster the boat will move.

This self paced effect allows the oars-person to work at any intensity. The boat simply responds, moving at a speed which is equal to the intensity of work being done.

As boat speed and momentum increase, it does not get easier to row. As the speed increases, the drag acting on the boat also increases, requiring the oars-person to work more intensively in order to maintain speed.

What you put in is what you get out


Natural Fluid Connection

When rowing, the connection between the oars-person and the moving water is simply an immersed paddle.

As a result, rowing is smooth and low impact, ideal for any user, young or old, male or female, fit or unfit.

The oar does not tear through the water. The oar locks into the water and the oars-person simply levers the mass of the boat and crew past this lock point. Any tearing or slipping through the water is wasted energy since it does not propel the boat forward.

The natural fluid connection of the WaterRower'spaddle in water acts to dampen out the harsh mechanical feel typical of conventional mechanical rowing machines.  


Naturally Even Stroke

When rowing, the oars-person does not work to overcome a resistance which would typically fade as it is overcome. They work to accelerate the mass of the boat and crew.  This mass does not change through the stroke, it is the same from beginning to end.

This provides for a naturally even stroke and allows  the oars-person to recruit all three major muscle groups to contribute to the propulsion of the boat.

The three major muscle groups - the legs, torso and arms - are recruited sequentially and in proportion to their strength, generating a uniform aerobic load and optimizing the exercise benefit.

Rowing is a continuous, even stroke there is no start or finish, the motion of the handle replicates the motion of a bicycle chain, there is no stopping at any point.


Natural Full Body Fitness

Rowing, unlike other popular aerobic exercises such as running and cycling, is a full bodied exercise which recruits all major muscle groups.


The oarsperson is connected to the boat through the toes and the ends of the fingers. The rowing action requires that all the muscle groups between these two contact points contribute to the propulsion of the boat and should do so in proportion to their individual strength. This lessens the risk of overloading any particular muscle group.


By recruiting such a large mass of muscle, rowing is unequalled in terms of efficiency and calorie consumption. 

Even amongst other whole bodied aerobic pursuits like swimming and cross country skiing, rowing is unique in that by transmitting the work through the whole body it recruits all major muscle groups simultaneously. Swimming and cross country skiing use the major muscle groups independently.

Rowing requires that the work of the dynamic muscle groups (arms and legs) be transferred through the static muscle group of the torso.  This helps to strengthen core stability muscles which further improves posture. As a result, and contrary to common opinion, rowing can assist in chronic back problems.

Additional information