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Military Muscle: Go with the rower

Machine is tops for indoor cardio

May. 3, 2012 - 02:08PM   |   Last Updated: May. 3, 2012 - 02:08PM  |  
Troops at Camp Lejeune workout on Concept2 rowers.
Troops at Camp Lejeune workout on Concept2 rowers. (Courtesy of Concept2)
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About the author

Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. Click here to email him.

From time-honored treadmills and bikes, to heavy-work step-mills, versa climbers and the newer Arc Trainers, I've used almost every piece of cardio equipment on the market in my training programs. But one piece stands out from the rest the indoor rower.

I've always maintained that if you have only one choice for cardio equipment, make it the rower. At a recent command fitness leader conference, it was stated that the rower demands many of the basic functional movements that military personnel perform on a daily basis.

There are several makes on the market, and I've used many. The blue-ribbon winner, in my opinion, is the Concept2 rower. The fact that a majority of rowing teams and Olympic competitors use this brand is testament to its standing.

The company is outstanding in its customer service, has a great website (www.concept2.com) and features one of the best equipment computers in the business. You can even connect multiple rowers for competition.

If you're starting out with rowing, make sure you learn the correct technique. Find someone who has been in a rowing program for guidance or check out the C2 website and watch the video of how to row. Without the correct technique, you will be wasting valuable work energy and efficiency.

Give the rower a try it's an excellent overall piece of equipment.

A few of my favorite rowing programs:

Short distances

Three sets of 1,000 meters at a perceived exertion rate of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10; one minute of very easy rowing between sets.

Five sets of four-minute rows at a perceived exertion rate of 8; one minute of very easy rowing between sets.

Ten sets of one-minute rows at a perceived exertion rate of 8; one minute of easy rowing between sets.

Medium distances

Three sets of 2,000 meters at a perceived exertion rate of 7; one minute of very easy rowing between sets.

Four sets of six-minute rows at a perceived exertion rate of 7; two minutes of very easy rowing between sets.

Fifteen sets of 1-minute rows at a perceived exertion rate of 7; 30-second rest period between each set.

Long distances

Row for one hour at a steady pace at a perceived exertion of 6.

Row 10,000 meters at a steady pace at a perceived exertion rate of 6.

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