If you want a full-body workout that burns loads of fat, builds muscle and strengthens the heart, try the rowing machine at your gym. It will become your best friend. Seriously.
CrossFitters regularly use row machines as part of their workout and you can see how ripped they are. They're defintely onto something. Rowing machines offer the same resistance and motion used when rowing a boat, so your upper- and lower-body muscles — as well as your core — are engaged. While it is a great exercise on its own, rowing makes for a great warmup and cool-down before and after an intense workout.
"It's probably the best piece of workout equipment in the gym," said Dr. Timothy Hosea of the American College of Sports Medicine in a Reuters article. "It's a total fitness machine. Unlike running or the elliptical, where you use your legs, you exercise every major muscle group in the body in a smooth, controlled manner."
You can melt away more fat on a row machine than any other piece of equipment at the gym. Hosea said that the average person can easily burn 700 to 750 calories per hour going at a "pretty moderate pace."
Be careful if you have an existing back problem. More stress is placed on the back with a slower stroke rate, so if you are planning on an aerobic workout the resistance should be lower to avoid stressing the back muscles, the ACSM says. During the recovery phase, it is important to wait until your hands pass over your knees before you bend them.
Flexing your knees prior to this movement can also lead to injury. The ACSM recommends starting with a 15-minute workout if you're a beginner to develop proper form.
CrossFit rowing coach Shane Farmer provides some handy tips for beginners: