The rower is a fantastic cardio machine because you can crush calories on it and sculpt muscles in your back, arms, abs and legs. But strapping in without a strategy won’t do your body any favours. Annie Mulgrew, the programme director at City row, an indoor rowing and strength training interval studio in New York City, helps to decode its dashboard. Learn what the numbers mean, then pick a time or distance goal, hit the appropriate button to lock it in, and row.
1 STROKES PER MINUTE (SPM)
Your speedometer, which shows the number of strokes you perform in one minute. Higher is not better. Always aim to keep your spm below 30 – pull hard and recover on the way in – and you’ll log more metres (think distance covered on water) and work more muscles in less time.
2 SPLIT TIME
The amount of time it takes you to row 500m. It is affected by speed (spm) and power (the push of your legs out to extension). Try this: Row 500m at 26 to 28spm, and aim to keep a consistent split time for two minutes. Then drop your rate to 22 to 24spm, and see if you can push hard enough to maintain the same split time.
3 TIMER BUTTON
Press this and then the up or down arrow to set a timer by 30-second intervals. Press the centre button and see how many metres you can row in that given amount of time. Try to complete more metres in each interval while keeping the same spm rate.
4 DISTANCE BUTTON
Press this and then the up or down arrow to set a distance goal by 50m increments. Then press the centre button and see how long it takes you to cover that distance at 26spm. Recover, then do the same distance in less time.5 TIME This shows either how long you have been rowing or – if you selected the timer button – how long you have left to row.
Similarly, this is either how far you have been rowing or how much farther you have to row (if you selected the distance button).
7 TOTAL METRES
Your distance sum over a given session.
8 TOTAL TIME
How long you’ve been on the rower.
9 TOTAL CALORIES
Think of this as the force you are exerting on the machine (not the amount of calories you’re burning). For example, try to row at a rate of 26spm until you hit 10 calories. Rest, then row at 26spm again, but lower your split time so you can get to 10 calories in less time.