Not rowing is the biggest health mistake I make
My business partner, Dan Krueger, asked me if I had been rowing. I admitted that I had not. He re-lit my rowing pilot light. God bless that guy! I am back in the sliding saddle again!
I used to be a daily rower. Once, on the water, on the Potomac; then, on my Model C Concept2 Indoor Rower AKA the erg. I have gotten out of the habit and have started up again today, no matter what else I have on the docket. Even if I walk, run, ruck, swing, ride, or spin, I need to get that slow 5,000 meters in every single day.
I would like to spend 90-minutes every day in the seat, but I also know that the day gets away. I will not put any performance requirements on the time in the sliding seat, just that I am rowing. It helps with the body's circulation, it helps with breathing, and it also helps with flexibility, mobility, and can reward you with as much strength, stamina, and endurance as you put in. It's good for the knees and the back. And, you'll be rewarded with gorgeous legs at the very least.
There's only one erg to get, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower. It's the industry standard. And their free Concept2 online logbook interfaces perfectly with Strava and all the other online sports tracking services via its also free ErgData app.
There are other brands like water rowers and C2 clones and ones with monitors, etc. There are rowers that are much more expensive and emulate better a real on-water scull.
But I would rather recommend a model C from 1993 with a PM5 upgrade than anything else. Than any junk, off brand, copies, or water rowers.
That's what I'm rowing on. An old Model C I bought on Craigslist that's been rebuilt a bunch of times by me.
So, I can't recommend anything else because I'm a 100% Logbook rower. Challenges, team challenges, etc. A thousand dollars new is both a lot of money and also a bargain compared to Peloton or most any runner's treadmill.
Don't believe me? Read all the smart stuff about rowing every single day for the rest of your life:
'As we get older, it is increasingly important to exercise daily to fend off the accelerating decay which otherwise results from inactivity. As someone once said, the challenge as we age is to slow down less than the other guy.'
'Being moderately out of breath can be a more effective stimulus if you sustain it for a longer period of time. That middle range of moderate activity (your comfort zone) can represent a broad bandwidth of possible work. Focus to begin with on finding your comfort zone. Do not worry about determining what works in one day. And do not feel you need to push yourself, to drain yourself, or to breathe so hard that you feel concerned about catching your breath. Keep it moderate and, over a period of days or weeks, increase the total time you row.'
'But the exercise I am suggesting you do daily is well within the boundaries of comfort. The intent is to gain a maximum benefit over time by stimulating your body daily at a level that is just above your norm and does not cause strain. You might call this exercising within your comfort zone.'
'Daily cardiovascular exercise of the whole body that maintains a need to breathe harder than normal through a workout of forty-five minutes or more is the best way to use the first principle (innate automatic adaptation in response to daily stimulus) to achieve the benefit of the second principle (our bodies naturally function better at a higher level). Rowing is a whole body exercise, using the major muscles of the legs, as well as the core and back, the shoulders, and the arms together in a continuous motion. By using all major muscle groups simultaneously, rowing demands more of the heart and lungs in a shorter time, providing an efficient stimulus to improve your body’s condition. Rowing also involves a range of motion that incorporates more muscle stretching and more muscle use than most activities. Imagine going for a walk and lowering your body close to the ground and then raising it again with each step. Rowing moves the large muscles through a wide range of motion, something that does not happen with walking. Rowing is a non-impact activity, without foot-falls on the ground, sideways pressure, or start-and-stop motion, so there is a reduced risk of strain. Rowing is easy to do at home or at health clubs with modern indoor rowing machines.'
'Every day that you engage in exercise that safely and effectively causes you to breathe more deeply (but still comfortably) for thirty to forty-five minutes or more, your body will reward you with better lung power. Better lung power is the foundation of better fitness and that translates into yet more effective exercise. It is a cycle you will learn to use to your benefit.'
'Exercise that uses less of the body’s muscle mass (such as bicycling or running) is not as effective as rowing because it draws blood primarily to portions of the body instead of causing it to be pumped more vigorously throughout the body. With less muscle mass in play and less lung efficiency demanded, exercises using smaller portions of the body limit the beneficial effect under the first principle. When you row, you use almost all of your muscles because you engage both legs, both arms, and the trunk of your body in one continuous motion. Since your range of motion is almost from one end of your reach to the other (bending the knees and reaching beyond your toes at one end; straightening legs, extending back and pulling arms in at the other end), you also use more range of each muscle.'
'Fitness is a state of the body as a whole, including how all of the body parts function, not just how some of them look. Do not become trapped into believing you are becoming fit overall based only on the number of push-ups you can do. That and similar indicators are too narrow to be your guide.'
'Here is the basic plan in four parts: 1. Row every day; 2. When you miss a day, simply get back to it the next day and row every day again; 3. Over time, make it a point to miss fewer days. To begin, find a rowing machine and row at your own pace for up to ten minutes. Do not try to set any records or test yourself. After a few minutes, take a break, get up and move around, and be sure you are not overly winded. After the break, row again for a few minutes at a pace that is entirely comfortable for you. Over a period of a month or more, at a pace that is comfortable for you, work up to a daily row of twenty to thirty minutes without stopping. While you can certainly do more if it is comfortable for you, avoid the most common error of overdoing it in the early weeks. The fourth step is as important as the first three: 4. Record what you have accomplished at the end of each workout.'
'I suggest you row daily based on how our bodies function. In my experience, the body responds well to being given reasonable stimulation each day. Daily rowing transforms the way your body works by using its natural abilities to adapt and to function more efficiently.'
'If you are training for health rather than competition and do not overdo it, you can row every day and benefit from it.'
'Incorporating occasional interval work into your routine will improve your strength and help you raise your level of fitness. You will find over time that by including some interval work you will increase your ability to maintain a strong pace on the longer, steady-state pieces, too.'
'Keep in mind that every day you skip, every day you do not engage in some exercise that causes you to breathe more deeply, you are instructing your lungs to become less efficient. The body does not coast; it declines without positive stimulus.'
'Make your motto “Spirare est Vivere” (“To Breathe is to Live”). Pay attention to your breath. Enjoy deeper breathing and watch it improve your life.'
'One reason was to overcome the many misconceptions about rowing and healthy exercise. Many people mistakenly think rowing is not for everyone because it has to be strenuous and is inaccessible. The common idea of limiting exercise to three days per week also must be reconsidered. These two misconceptions bracket what this book is about.'
'Plan to exercise every day. You will do better for that attempt and can only gain more if you succeed.'
'Record when you do not exercise as well as when you do. In other words, note when you miss and why.'
'Rowing can help maintain bone density because the additional stimulus of lungs and heart enhances the delivery of nutrients to the entire body, including the skeletal structure. This is important for all ages; but it is an especially good example why exercise is increasingly important as we age. Bones can weaken and become more susceptible to damage from otherwise normal activities (like a minor fall) as we age. Bones can also lose density to such a degree that posture and health are threatened. Regular exercise is widely regarded as an important part of preventing this physical weakening as we age.'
'Rowing is a non-impact activity you can do entirely at your own pace. As a result, you can repeat it every day.'
'Send your body a signal, gently but firmly, by rowing today. And then make the decision to do it again tomorrow.'
'The beauty of indoor rowing as an exercise, apart from the easy access, is that it is a non-impact exercise that can be done at any age and at any level of effort. It can be done moderately, as I advocate here, and does not have to be painful or intense. As a result, it can be used in a way that is responsive to your needs and condition, whatever they may be.'
'The body is designed to function at a higher rate of physical activity than the usual, modern sedentary lifestyle. The lungs need to breathe deeply a significant amount every day. The heart is built to pump more blood on a sustained basis. The other systems of the body, such as the digestive system and energy conversion systems, function more effectively when we experience physical activity each day.'
'The body responds daily to the activity it experiences whether we exercise it or not. For example, my body responds not only to the weight-lifting I do on Monday but also to my sitting at my desk, in airports, in the car, and in front of the computer and television on Tuesday through Thursday.'
'The core idea of daily adaptation seems so obvious to me that it should not have to be stated. It goes against the grain for a competitive rower and rowing coach to advocate “moderate” rather than competitive rowing. Exercising every day seems extreme rather than moderate to many people. And rowing on a machine is not perceived as fun.'
'The first corollary is that a day of inactivity such as sitting at an office desk, driving to and from work, and sitting at home is in fact a “daily demand” and will have a daily adaptive effect. The result will simply be that fitness deteriorates instead of improving as it can with activity. It would be a challenge to quantify the effect of a day off from exercising, but the basic point is plain: You should not expect to feel fit if you do not give your body the exercise to make it fit.'
'The importance of the principles to aging is that the body adapts to how we live. Choose to live actively and your body will respond with a greater ability to remain more active. However, choosing to give your body daily stimulus that says “slow down and do less” will result over time in reduced ability to perform and even reduced functioning. The natural path of the body without exercise is to decline.'
'The plan I set forth here is simple: Start rowing today on an indoor rowing machine. Do it easily, without pushing. And then continue to do it moderately every day, to the extent you can.'
'The rowing motion involves sitting down and generating resistance based on how hard you choose to work. Since you control it, you stimulate your breathing to the degree that is right for you. Exercising in your comfort zone, you can do it every day. Using the monitor on the rowing machine, you can keep track of and record your improvements over time. Since rowing uses nearly the whole muscle mass of the body, it has the added benefit of stimulating heart and lungs more efficiently and completely than most other exercises. And since you row sitting down on a stable seat and without joint impact, it is safer and easier for many of us to undertake as beginners than most other forms of exercise. In short, it is one of the safest and most effective ways to stimulate your whole body each day to greater health.'
'The worst bad habit is not to exercise. The most important good habit to develop is to exercise every day.'
'There is a common belief among some rowing coaches that a good workout can burn off germs. They would say that a member of a rowing team should come to practice and work out even if fighting a cold (unless the team member is very ill or contagious). The exercise will raise the body temperature. The athlete will sweat out impurities, breathe in lots of good air, and clear the lungs of waste accumulating there. The heart will pump blood containing antibodies and white blood cells more thoroughly throughout the body to overcome areas of infection. The exercise will generally enhance the body’s natural ability to overcome viral infection. It may not kill the cold once the cold has taken hold, but many believe it is a good preventative tool. See what you think.'
'There is more that happens in the body when we stimulate the heart, lungs, and muscles. One important additional effect is the increased blood flow to and through the bones. (Much is made of the use of weight-bearing exercise to maintain or improve bone density. That may occur with rowing, but focus for now on the simpler concept of blood flow through the bones.) Increased blood flow strengthens the bones. And the bones help the body in multiple ways.'
'This book is based on a simple, self-evident truth: Your body adapts to how it is stimulated every day by tuning itself to do more of the same, only better.'
'We have many joints in the body. The joints most of us commonly think of are in the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists. But there are also joints connecting the ribs and in the spine. The joints often contain a variety of tissues and other materials, including tendons, ligaments, cartilage, membranes, and fluid. Earlier, I noted one positive benefit of rowing on joints is that there is no impact. Unlike the jumping of basketball, the repetitive pounding of running, and the twisting and turning of soccer and tennis, the joints are held in place without impact while you row. The body moves but you are sitting down. There is no hitting or other motion that causes an impact against a surface so as to create a potential for strain, as there can be with these other sports. At the same time, rowing strengthens the muscles that hold the joints in place. A second benefit of rowing for the joints comes from the increased flow of blood throughout the body. As you row and your heart pumps more blood, you will tend to improve the flow of blood to and around your joints. With so many types of tissue and fluid involved in the healthy functioning of a joint, you can imagine that increased blood flow to these areas can be beneficial. Rowing offers the joints a third benefit. When you row, you move many joints through a range of motion. This moderate use through a more complete range of motion can have positive benefits compared to not using your joints or using only a limited range of motion. Use without abuse is a good thing.'
'When you miss a day, simply return to it the next day. Record your missed exercise in your log each time, as well as the days when you do exercise.'
'With interval training you are using the resistance of the rowing machine instead of lifting weights. That allows you to do this effective, power-building exercise using all of the muscles together in the risk-free position of sitting down. And it allows you to do the harder work at your own pace without having to select weights or change them.'
'Your activity each day sends a message to your body that it should expect more of the same. Your body adapts to enhance your ability to maintain that level of activity the next day and thereafter.'
'Your body is designed to be used more actively than occurs in the average, sedentary modern lifestyle. A simple conclusion follows from these two fundamental notions: A daily routine of breathing more deeply with moderate exercise will stimulate your body to develop greater fitness and energy.'
'Rowing Slow is certainly different thinking.'
'Instead it is about non-hurry rowing. It is about enjoying and having an appreciation. It is about finding what is good in our sport, and happiness. It is about going slow so you can go fast.'
'Rowing Slow is about picking the times that you need to go fast, to have the ability to go fast when you need it and slow when it is called for. And going slow is called for.'
'Slow is not a dirty word.'
'I view the state of Slow simply as a mindful approach to what is happening around you. It is a way to gain enlightenment (and happiness) through thinking, self-contemplation, and intuition. It is using the ability to stop, process, and then proceed in a non-accelerated manner. What is great about this slow mindset is that while the effort can be minimal—the rewards can often be huge.'
'If you don’t conform to other people’s ideas of what is right, correct, and proper, then don’t worry. It is your right to look at things differently. Guilt should not enter the picture. There is already enough guilt, blame, and self-condemnation in the Universe to go around.'