Happy Monday. Last week we went over how to make the best damn budget post-workout shake you’ll ever have, as a follow-up to the more quality one I wrote about a while back. This week we’re back to gaining a workout edge, by learning how to get the best conditioning and cardio workout in about a third of the time you’d usually spend on the treadmill.
When it comes to training and the gym, longer isn’t always better – intensity and consistency are however, key.
Let’s get started.
‘If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll remember some time ago I did a post on how skipping rope (jump rope) is one of the best ways to get a quick but intense, effective workout.
If you bought SUPP UP. No Bull Gym In A Bag Workout Guide, you’ll also be familiar with why this is so true as I go into much more depth on the benefits of skipping rope in the book.
This time around I thought I’d talk to you about a second favorite of mine – rowing (also known as the ergometer machine or erg).
While skipping rope is king when it comes to being able to condition anywhere, rowing dominates in both commercial and home gyms. So slide past the elliptical (seriously?) and stop using the treadmill as an excuse to talk to the cardio bunnies – it’s time to put some real work in with the rower.
If you’re able to still carry on a normal conversation while doing “conditioning” work – you’re not working hard enough, or smart enough.
The rower is beneficial for numerous reasons. For starters, it’s one of the few things next to skipping rope that also taxes your upper, mid, and lower muscles (10+ different muscles to be precise!), and strengthens the muscles surrounding your stability and mobility joints – whereas something like running or biking really only targets the lower half of your body.
Second, again like skipping, it doesn’t take much – 20 minutes is all you need in order to get a good workout worked into your day, in comparison to pounding away for 60 minutes on the treadmill. This is my go to workout on my “rest” days.
(As a side note, it’s also low-impact – so you spare you precious joints and can still do it if you’re recovering from an injury.)
Last but most importantly, it’s deceptive as fuck. Like skipping rope, you’ve got to pace yourself – going break neck out the gate will only pre-exhaust you. A rhythm has to be developed and maintained, meaning you can’t just mindlessly zone out to those built-in TVs they put in bikes and treadmills at the gym.
Alright so you’ve got a relative idea of why rowing is so good, now for some ideas on how to most effectively use the rower during workouts. I’ll be elaborating on more specific, tailored workouts in my upcoming book.
You’ve got a few options here, depending on how much of a badass you are at enduring workout pain – I’m talking that burning, acid in the muscles pain.
Yes, rowing is brutal and will provide you with that, I’m not going to sugarcoat anything.
If you can get past the thought of that before throwing in the towel (sissy), read on.
HIIT Rowing. – HIIT (if you don’t know already) means high intensity interval training. So in this case, rowing at maximum effort for a set amount of time (let’s say 1 minute), and then resting for equal to or double that time. As you get more advanced, you’ll rest for less time than your max effort time.
The key difference with HIIT cardio on the rower is you want to aim for a distance, in order to establish your max effort time, then calculate your rest time from there.
So let’s say you want to row a total distance of 1000m (*cough*gofor2000m*cough*).
You’ll break that into sets of your experience level (5 x 200, 4 x 250, 2 x 500), and whatever amount of time it takes you to do each set, you’ll rest for that same amount of time.
Once you’re used to doing that, you cut back the rest time even less which will really start making you feel the intensity of this overlooked machine.
Steady State Rowing. – When I say steady state, this doesn’t mean developing the pace of your 90 year old grandma with her walker in the park on a Sunday afternoon. The type of steady state I’m talking isn’t for the faint of heart.
Try just 10 minutes of going as fast as you can with zero rest, maintaining the same spm (strokes per minute) rate and you’ll have to have someone drag you off the rower because of the sheer amount of acidic burn you’ll feel everywhere, but more specifically in the top of your legs.
That’s probably the most important takeaway from this article:
It’s imperative you maintain pace.
Running on the treadmill and cycling on the stationary bike have one thing in common: they’re both easy to lose pace with, either through being lazy or not paying attention.
Rowing and skipping, also have one thing in common: if you lose your pace, you’ll quickly be reminded to get back into the rhythm – either by being whipped with the skip rope (it’s painful), or losing significant distance on the rower (which will throw off your entire set distance and rear its ugly head at the end of it).
For the love of all things holy, pay attention to the monitor when rowing.
You get what I’m saying here – like skipping, there’s a bit of discipline that has to be developed with rowing – but if it means have a workout that’s twice as effective in a third of the time it takes for you to pound away on the dreadmill, it’s more than worth it.
As always just remember to keep things balanced, and you’ll do just fine.
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If you really like this post, but don’t have the SUPP UP. books yet, buy SUPP UP. No Bull, Gym In A Bag Workout Guide now, as a paperback or E-book, and discover great ways to get more out of your workouts while travelling or on the go (preview of chapters available in shop).
Drop by next week for yet another great post to add to your workout and nutrition arsenal.
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Photo Credit: Victor Freitas