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Rower for building upper body muscle?

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Rower for building upper body muscle?

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Old 02-13-18, 09:44 AM
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Rower for building upper body muscle?

I'm contemplating a rower and impressed with the amount of muscles (+/- 83%) that it involves.
I stopped my gym membership a couple of years ago and have lost muscle mass and strength in my upper body.
Not really complaining as I've lost weight in the process, and my leg strength is much stronger because of biking.
My arms are toned, but I wouldn't mind re-gaining some muscle mass above my belt line.
I know rowing is considered cardio.
Anybody use a rower notice muscle gain in their upper body?
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Old 02-13-18, 10:58 AM
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If your goal is to build muscle, obviously heavy lifting is going to be the fastest way to get there. Rowing will probably be a lot better toward that goal than just sitting on the couch when you aren't riding. It's sub-optimal though, obviously.
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Old 02-13-18, 11:33 AM
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For the money difference, I would get/install a pull-up bar. I've heard that recommended as the first exercise equipment one should get. Other things can be done with no equipment, but that will work your arms, back, abs...even if you can't yet do a pullup, or very many, working on negatives will get you there.
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Old 02-13-18, 11:45 AM
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I have a Concept II "erg" in the basement. That machine will strengthen you up, tone you up, but not bulk you up. Much like cycling or swimming. And start S-L-O-W. recommended first 3 sessions are 12 minutes or less. a lot of small muscles and tendons get engaged that are not typical for most people and an aggressive start almost guarantees an injury. over time, you get good form and the right mindset, and then that simple looking machine can give you as much workout as you can take. lots of useful edu material here: Best-selling Rowing Machine -SkiErg -Exercise Bike | United States
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Old 02-13-18, 12:06 PM
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An interesting thing is that female rowers are attracted to the sport and do well at it because females tend to be stronger in their lower body than upper. Rowing power is in the legs. So while it's better for upper body musculature than the bike, not so very much better. Hence the admonition to not let the legs heavily stress the upper body connective tissues until they've become stronger. Wonderful cardio and really good for the back and other muscles that allow one to ride long distances pain-free.
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Old 02-13-18, 03:54 PM
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As others have said a row machine is not going to build any muscle. Great for other things though. Get back in the gym.
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Old 02-13-18, 04:27 PM
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The Concept 2 is a great machine. I own one myself and use to train on the Pete Plan for getting to sub-7 as a lightweight; not an easy thing, I might add. It is a cardio machine. It will help you develop your leg, back, and arm muscles for endurance but will do little for gaining muscle mass. You wouldn't use cycling as your primary workout for gaining muscle mass on your legs, would you?

If you want to develop upper body musculature and mass you have to do resistance training.
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Old 02-13-18, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Pic View Post
I'm contemplating a rower and impressed with the amount of muscles (+/- 83%) that it involves.
I stopped my gym membership a couple of years ago and have lost muscle mass and strength in my upper body.
Not really complaining as I've lost weight in the process, and my leg strength is much stronger because of biking.
My arms are toned, but I wouldn't mind re-gaining some muscle mass above my belt line.
I know rowing is considered cardio.
Anybody use a rower notice muscle gain in their upper body?
Rowing machines will not build any appreciable muscle mass. They will do other, wonderful things, but I would be very surprised if you gained any real muscle from it. Even at an elite olypic level, rowers are not particularly muscular, and machine rowers involve less strength than actual rowing anyway.

As someone above said, a pullup bar would be a much wiser investment. It would build much more muscle for a fraction of the price. Between pullups and hand stand pushups you can build muscle across your entire upper body. Add in front and back levers and hollow body holds and you can build a strong core too. Of course, working up to hand stand pushups isn't easy, but you can start with pushups and hand stands (against a wall) and see where you end up

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Old 02-14-18, 04:17 PM
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Rowing and Cycling

While I agree with previous posters that rowing is primarily an aerobic activity, my experience has been that it does build some muscle and develops strength. Rowing on an indoor ergometer can be useful cross training for cycling.

I rowed in college and have used a Concept II machine for the last thirty years. I am definitely more muscular and stronger when rowing is part of my program. Resistance training such as weight lifting is more effective at pure muscle building, but rowing also improves strength and muscular endurance. Like weight lifting, rowing can also help prevent osteoporosis, a concern for cyclists. Proper technique is critical, however, for rowing to be safe and effective. There are some excellent technique videos on the Concept II website.
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Old 02-14-18, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by josh23 View Post
Even at an elite olypic level, rowers are not particularly muscular, )
Nope --- they're not muscular at all






I've spent significant time at he Rowing, Canoe and Kayak OTC (Olympic Training Center) in Oklahoma City . ( The general public can work out there if they know the secret handshake -- i'm 5'9 46 yo and chubby myself )

I can attest that the athletes there rowing in the heavyweight categories are big dudes --- guys' that look like they would be right at home on an NBA court. (6'3 to 6'5ish, 220 pounders) The lightweights are also carrying around scary low bodyfat %'s that make them appear more imposing than their weight would dictate too.

That said , with the big guys, - the Concept 2 didn't make 'em that way, Mother Nature did, ---- and the guys' there all do extensive weight training as well ---- the lower level of the facility looks like a hardcore powerlifting gym, only not dirty or smelly . Olympic lifts are a big part of the program, as well as powerlifting moves like squats and deadlifts.

I got tired of the long drive to the place from my house, so I made my own gym over the winter

Concept 2 is a front and center part of my cardio operation ! --- As soon as I recover financially from the new gym operation, I hope to add one of their new Bike Erg's as well -- its a stationary bike based on the C2 fan system that supposedly syncs up and works well with Zwift!


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Old 02-15-18, 10:31 AM
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When you get to higher levels, sports don't give people a specific body type, people with a specific body type find their way into a sport they're suited for.
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Old 02-15-18, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
When you get to higher levels, sports don't give people a specific body type, people with a specific body type find their way into a sport they're suited for.

Bingo. (But is drinking beer and telling stories a sport?)
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Old 02-15-18, 10:46 AM
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lol
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Old 02-15-18, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Nope --- they're not muscular at all


I can attest that the athletes there rowing in the heavyweight categories are big dudes --- guys' that look like they would be right at home on an NBA court. (6'3 to 6'5ish, 220 pounders) The lightweights are also carrying around scary low bodyfat %'s that make them appear more imposing than their weight would dictate too.
It's interesting how "muscular" really depends on perspective. Coming from powerlifting, 6'3" and 220 would be considered skinny (as would pretty much every NBA player). Then, you read "Born to Run" and hear about 140 lb runners being described as muscular or Tyler Hamilton's book where he describes a 150 lb Lance Armstrong as physically intimidating.

I don't really have a point other than to point out how interesting it is that one's perspective can really shape their opinions. I thought your post was pretty much bang on.

IMO Rowing will likely build some muscle (like long distance cycling will build some muscle in the legs) but it isn't going to be as much as dedicated weight training would build.
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Old 02-15-18, 08:56 PM
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I had big legs before I started lifting. I'm 40 and have been riding a bike for about 35 years. The last 20 of them in very hilly places. My legs aren't huge and would be considered skinny in powerlifting circles, but are big in average joe circles. Again, that's from decades of riding a bike. Rowing will produce some muscle on a typical roadie. It won't be much and it will come on slowly, but it will be more than if you sat on the couch eating dorritos. But it's important to have realistic expectations and it's really not going to build much muscle.

Also, I think a lot of what people think of as muscular really comes down to having low enough body fat for the muscle to show. That might not apply in this crowd but it's a rule of them among the people you're gonna run into at the grocery store.
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Old 02-15-18, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post

Also, I think a lot of what people think of as muscular really comes down to having low enough body fat for the muscle to show. That might not apply in this crowd but it's a rule of them among the people you're gonna run into at the grocery store.
Yes, -- i dabbled in competitive bodybuilding in my late teens and early 20's . Being a late bloomer as a kid and not particularly good at stick and ball sports, this gave me an outlet

Bodybuilding, like powerlifting - has weight classes. When in contest shape up to a light heavyweight size, (used to be just under 200 lbs) , most guys look pretty normal, albeit fit, - in clothes. But the effect is much different when the clothes come off, even for lightweights.
To use a pop culture reference, think of the Scott Glenn character in Urban Cowboy, -- skinny and wiry, but with a low enough bodyfat % that he looked like someone not to be messed with

Heavyweights in any of these disciplines stand out though, even in clothes, you cant hide being 250 pounds-- if you have a lean face and a 36" waist, people generally can tell you spend a lot of time in the gym, unless your just born that way

I'd categorize these big rowers as similar to a middleweight or light heavy bodybuilder, - at 6'3 or 4 and 220 or so, the proportions will not be that cartoonish in street clothes, (rowing favors tall men and women, thats why a lot of them at an elite facility are over 6'2 with women being over 5'10)
In training attire though, they all look like big track sprinters
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Old 02-16-18, 10:31 AM
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Fishnet shirt Wes already looked like someone not to be messed with.
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Old 02-16-18, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by northtexasbiker View Post
Fishnet shirt Wes already looked like someone not to be messed with.


Found the pic ! -- this must be right after Bud Davis accidentally hit him with the cheeseburger !




(sorry for dragging this off topic
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