Hi I see this machine in the gym and I see a lot of people using it, but I never understood its purpose or its importance. Why and for what to use?

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2 Answers 2


It's a rowing machine. You sit on the chair and push with your legs against the pads while at the same time pulling the bar with your arms. The round part you see in front is the resistance wheel which you can adjust so that the movement is more difficult.

This is a full body workout that incorporates a great deal of cardio. Some people even say that it is one of the most efficient body workouts. I have used it mostly for warm up before a session of weight lifting.

Proper way to use a rowing machine

  • so it's cardio not weight training. But I always thought that running is the best cardio exercise since it trains all the muscles.
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 17:19
  • 1
    @Alex It is a "conditioning machine". There is resistance training through the settings on the resistance wheel but the amount of reps you do on it make it mostly cardio. What constitutes the best cardio exercise is pretty much up for grabs. Some people say swimming, some rowing, some running, some cycling... it's really what you feel challenged doing. The safest and best bet is to do all of them every once in a while. Keep the body busy trying to adapt.
    – MikeV
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 18:07
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    Running is the best cardio exercise for running. However, if your goal is general purpose cardio, then running is not necessarily the best. There are other exercises that use just as many muscles, like rowing, or circuit training, or barbell complexes. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 19:25
  • @DaveLiepmann what is circuit training?
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 6:40
  • You do one exercise and then another exercise and then another without any rest between them, at a fast pace. Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 7:34

Indoor Rowing Machine.

Awesome, really.

It mimics the behaviour of a row boat but using a fan that creates the necessary resistance with the flow of air. This is particularly interesting as even when you adjust the resistance of the cable the actual resistance depends on how you row: The faster the more resistance in the same way that in a boat the faster you row the more effort you will need to travel against your bow wave.

There is also a selector for the cable resistance but this doesn't make much difference (at least I haven't noticed).

You can use this baby for a lot of things, one of them a hell of a cardio workout, just try to keep your strokes per minute between 24-30 spm.

I use it for a 10 minute warmup before lifting.

It recruits legs, butt, arms, shoulders, abs, back... in the category of no-impact cardio it is only second to the elliptical.

It is also a beloved piece of equipment in CrossFit and you can use it very effectively for HIIT.

Just one note of caution: It is addictive!!!

  • 1
    The damper setting lever on the side of the erg does not control resistance. This is a common misunderstanding. Additionally, I think you meant to say "24-30" strokes per minute which is pretty high for someone just starting to use the machine.
    – rrirower
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 16:47
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    I was about to say... 24-30 BPM is bradycardia,
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 19:36
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    @runlevel0 You're also asking for a back injury with the damper set to 10. With that setting, the flywheel will slow much faster requiring you to generate much more power on each stroke to get it moving again. If your form is not perfect, you risk injury. Most rowers, who use the erg regularly, do not set the damper that high. Typically, for new users, it should be set to 3.5.
    – rrirower
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:29
  • rrlower: Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. I just leave that at 10 because it is normally at this setting and I didn't felt too much difference, but I think that I will definitely follow your advice and "waste" a second or two in setting it to 3-5... it would be really stupid to jeopardize a running season because of a cross-training injury. Thanks for the advice!
    – runlevel0
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 12:35
  • what does "no-impact cardio" mean?
    – Jack Twain
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 8:05

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