Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Rowing and Paddling Fitness

May 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


rowing and paddling 1

Has running on the treadmill day after day at the gym become tiresome? Does your local area lack appealing pathways for a scenic or lengthy bike ride? Or are you just seeking a new way to enjoy the outdoors and get in a great workout at the same time?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, paddling and rowing may be the right activities for you. These two water sports are very effective and fun ways to tone muscles, burn calories, and get fit while enjoying the serenity of a local waterway.

rowing and paddling 2Rowing and paddling have distinct differences with regards to equipment, technique, and body mechanics. Rowing requires the use of two separate oars, which are tethered to the boat via oarlocks. Rowers face the opposite direction from where they are rowing and propel the boat forward by pulling the oars toward themselves. While rowing in a scull, the seat slides forward and backward, causing the legs to contribute power to each stroke. Paddling, on the other hand, requires a single paddle, which is held freely with both hands. A paddle can have a single blade on one end like those used for rafting and canoeing or a blade on each end like those used for kayaking. Paddlers face the direction they are paddling and perform a stroke by simultaneously pulling one end of the paddle with one hand while pushing the other end with the opposite hand.

The pulling motion of the stroke performed in both rowing and paddling makes both these activities excellent ones for strengthening and conditioning the muscles in the back and shoulders. To paddle or row one mile you could perform anywhere from 500 to 1,000 strokes — a way to help your upper body look ripped!

rowing and paddling 3

Regular rowing or paddling can improve posture, strengthen the back, and work the core. Rowing places a greater demand on the lower back muscles than paddling does, due to the latter portion of the stroke when the lower back extends. Paddling gives the obliques more of a workout than rowing does, requiring constant rotation of the body’s trunk from side to side for alternating strokes. Either motion is fantastic for building a strong core, which acts as a foundation for the entire body; developing a sound core is essential for improving the stability and efficiency of other muscles.

While paddling engages the leg muscles for stabilization and balance, rowing works your lower body more directly. When rowing, you use glutes, hamstrings, and quads to drive the stroke. The combined use of the upper and lower body when rowing makes for a total body workout that gives you more bang for your buck than paddling. So if your primary goal is to shed pounds, rowing is your best bet. It clocks in at around 600 calories burned per hour, compared to about 350 for paddling at a similar intensity. You can improve the potential calorie burn by paddling in rougher waters or with increased cadence.

Before getting out on the water, it’s best to start with a dynamic warm-up to loosen the muscles and prevent the likelihood of injury. Arm circles, hamstring curls, and torso twists are great for getting the blood flowing and improving range of motion. It is best to stretch after completing a rowing or paddling session when your muscles are most pliable. Hamstring, chest, and arm-over-body stretches are good for improving flexibility after your workout.

rowing and paddling 5The exercises you do should mimic the movement patterns in that sport if you want to improve and adding resistance will help you gain greater efficiency and muscle power. To improve at rowing, a rowing machine is ideal for building stamina and endurance. If you’re looking to get more distance out of each stroke, then strength-building exercises are essential, such as the TRX squat-and-row, which works the legs, glutes, and back, or the dead lift, which primarily works the glutes and hamstrings. For paddling, pushups and the one-arm cable row (add a BOSU® Balance Trainer for a greater challenge) will work your chest and back, respectively, while wood chops will develop your core, especially the obliques.

Before beginning any new exercise program always be sure to check with your doctor. When you get the all clear, have fun on the water while improving your physique.

By Jamie Gevirtz and David Gevirtz

Jamie Gevirtz is an ACE certified personal trainer specializing in women’s fitness. Her website is heitfitness.com.

Videos demonstrating rowing and paddling fitness workouts
BOSU® push up
Wood chop
BOSU® standing single arm row

Kettle bell dead lift

Rowing machine

TRX squat and row

Stretch/ Dynamic warm up

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