Rowing has quickly grown from the fringes into a highly popular and competitive sport, and for a good reason – it’s one of the best overall workouts there is.
But traditional rowing has limitations: the equipment is expensive, you need a body of water, you need other people, and it takes at least 6-12 months of practice to become at least proficient.
The advent of indoor rowing machines, however, has surmounted pretty much all of those problems, and the flagship product among them is none other than the Concept2 Model D:
This is the rowing machine that actual rowers almost exclusively train with, in conjunction to the real thing of course, from Olympians to novice highschoolers – anyone who’s rowed crew competitively has probably spent way too much time on the “erg,” as it’s called (short for ergometer). But the great thing about these machines is that one doesn’t need to be a talented rower to yield the great benefits of a rowing workout. Nor do they need boats, or oars, or a lake, or a boathouse, or any of the rest of it – just a small hard and flat surface to put it on, and you’re ready to go.
The design is actually very simple – you sit on a rolling seat, grab a handle, and pull on a chain connected to a fan, and the resulting sensation feels generally similar to pulling an oar through the water. A computer tracks the fan to see how much force you’re generating, and therefore how “fast” you’re going. You can also adjust the resistance of the fan to make the stroke heavier or lighter.
If you’re going to pick a single form of cardio to do, and perhaps a single machine to invest into, a Concept2 model D rower is a really great choice for many. Here’s why:
- Efficiency – rowing is in close contention for maximum calories burned per hour since it engages almost every part of the body, which leads us to…
- Completeness – rowing hits just about every part of the body, including the often neglected arms and back. It also combines resistance and cardiovascular training in a way that makes you fit and strong and muscular.
- Variety – from long steady state cardio, to fast HIIT, you can pretty much do it all on an erg.
- Safety – rowing is a smooth, zero impact, evenly balanced motion. No worrying about tripping on something or getting hit by a car either.
- Convenience – Concept2 rowers are compact, relatively light, and easily moveable, much more so than most bulky and heavy cardio machines.
- Affordable – Concept2 rowers are also relatively cheap compared to the full spectrum of workout machines, the value is immense for those who commit to using them regularly. They also come with a 5 year warranty.
The only downside really is that, like rowing, there’s a bit of technique to be learned. While just about anyone can hop on a treadmill or elliptical and use it without too much risk, rowing machines do take a little practice to use them right, and safely. Not nearly to the degree that actual rowing does, though – anyone can be proficient in a mere few days or weeks, tops. There’s also a bit of hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility that’s required at a minimum, but of course all these things can improve with the commencement of rowing, and there are ways to row with a modified, shortened stroke while still getting a plenty decent workout.
The company itself has a good video on proper technique, and you can see the machine in action:
When it comes to health and fitness in general, there really isn’t any magic diet or workout – there are a lot of ways to achieve just about any goal. The important thing is that you pick a regimen that’s both effective and realistic – the reason we strongly endorse the Concept2 rowing machine is that it’s both of these: You get one of the most effective forms of all around training there is, with a machine that’s both convenient and affordable. While the model E has some nice new features, the model D has been the go-to rowing machine for many years, and you really can’t go wrong with it. Check it out on Amazon here.