What Are the Benefits of a Rowing Machine Vs. Jumping Rope?

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A rowing machine may appear a little intimidating when compared to a simple jump rope, but the benefits are a bit more complex. Both offer a solid cardio workout, but at different intensities. Jumping rope gets you up and moving around while rowing allows you to target a number of key muscle groups while seated. Rowing and jumping rope each have their benefits, but deciding which piece of equipment is best for you comes down to what type of workout you're looking for.

Less Coordination, More Sitting

  • Jumping rope takes coordination and dexterity, so if you have trouble with either, a rowing machine could be an easier piece of equipment to use. Rope jumping or skipping involves swinging the rope over your head and under your feet, timing the movement of your limbs with the motion of the rope. To use a rower, you simply sit on the seat and secure your feet on the platform. Adjust the tension and grasp the handle with an overhand grip. Push away from the platform with your legs while pulling the handle with both hands toward your midsection.

Equal Workout, But Easier On Your Joints

  • Both rowing machines and rope jumping offer an aerobic workout that improves the health of your cardiovascular system and lungs. You’ll also be burning calories, speeding up your metabolism, and building lean muscle. Rowers can be used to stress your muscles anaerobically, meaning that muscles are robbed of oxygen, building strength. Jumping rope engages your whole body, is inexpensive, and a rope can be used anywhere that has enough space. You can also vary your rope jump workouts greatly with double unders, twists, and one-legged hops for variety and increased intensity. When it comes to wear and tear on your joints, rowing machines are better for you, with knees and ankles particularly at risk of potential damage when jumping rope.

Muscling In On the Action

  • Rowers cause you to work your leg muscles, targeting your quadriceps, hamstrings and hips. Your glutes and calf muscles will also be engaged. Upper body muscles that benefit include the lats, traps and pecs in your back and chest, and the triceps and biceps of your upper arm. These muscle groups are used when you pull back on the handle. Jumping rope mainly targets the muscles of your lower body, engaging your calf muscles, the hamstrings and quads in your thighs, the gluteus maximus muscle in your butt and your hip flexors. However, rope work also engages your wrists, arms and shoulders, especially when using a weighted rope for added resistance.

Getting It Right

  • To avoid potential back strain when using a rower, keep your arms horizontal and lean back slightly when your legs are fully extended. Keep your elbows close to your body, back straight and breathe out as you pull back. Aim to spend 10 to 20 minutes on the machine, two or three times per week. When jumping rope, always use supportive footwear and make sure you have enough clearance so the rope doesn’t get tangled or caught up in anything. A rope jumping workout session can last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, depending on your level of fitness.

Things to Note

  • Always consult your doctor or health-care provider before engaging in any moderate or strenuous physical activity. Remember that if you’re using a rowing machine or jumping rope to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis. You also need to change your eating habits, swapping unhealthy, fatty foods for healthy fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.

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