How will the Rowing Machines Impact Muscular Efficiency?

We continue our look through the various cardiovascular machines with our next stop being the rowing machines. There are significantly fewer options for your upper body when it comes to cardio machines. many of them just put some arbitrary handles on the machine and call it good. My favorite machine for incorporating the upper body is still the VersaClimber

Rowing machines are an upper body workout to say the least. I have seen some former crew teams work out on these and it is pretty impressive. Here in lies the issue with the machine. Raise your hand if you did crew (rowing) at some point in your life. If you raised your hand then I give you my approval to use the rowing machine. If you did not raise your hand then I recommend you find someone who can teach you proper form before you think seriously about using the machine. 

Lack of form on this machine can be very damaging to several areas of your body, starting with your lower back. The action of a row requires that you have the muscular integrity in your hips to be able to be in a seated position while still maintaining decent posture in your back. If you typically have posture issues in your back like slouching or rounded shoulder, the rowing machine is going to be very hard on your back and ultimately create even more problems and further misalignment of your back.

I would also be careful of your upper back and neck. If you are someone who typically has tightness and carries stress in these areas, this machine can greatly exacerbate this problem. The rounding of the shoulders and the lack of strength and integrity in the hips makes it very hard on the upper back as well since poor form typically leads to an increase in the pulling done from the upper back.

Here is a great example of how not to do it:

If you can have decent form then a rowing machine can be a good option for you to mix into your cardio routine. However, with bad form you are sacrificing potential back pain and guaranteed loss of posture for burning a few calories. 

I will give you some good pointers on how to have decent form on the rowing machine as well as exercises to do before and after to limit the amount of imbalances that can be created while on it.

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