When it comes to hitting the gym, we're all about getting the best workout possible in the shortest amount of time—we have minutes, not hours, to spend sculpting our bodies. If your workout schedule falls somewhere along those lines, Cameron Nichol, MD, would encourage you to try the rowing machine at your gym. "It's the most time-efficient total-body workout," Nichol, a former Olympic rower, two-time world silver medalist, and doctor, told Business Insider. "It's a really valuable movement, but the problem is we don't grow up with it, whereas we do running and cycling."
Nichol is a passionate rower himself as well as the founder of Rowing Wod, so it's safe to say he may be biased. But he insists that rowing uses "virtually every muscle in the body," and sought to prove that assertion in a Channel 4 News segment of How to Get Fit Fast. Nichol recruited athletes of a similar fitness level from the University of Roehampton to compare the impact of running on a treadmill to rowing on a machine, measuring calorie burn and muscle activation. The athletes completed 20 minutes of each exercise, and the output measurements were taken using electrodes.
In the end, the treadmill subjects burned 350 calories in 20 minutes, while the rowers only burned 300 calories in the same amount of time. But when it came to muscle activation, which is determined by the number of electrodes going through each muscle group during the workout and is a measurement of "how hard and fast those muscles are working," rowing activated nine muscle groups and 85% of the body, far surpassing running on the treadmill. "It will work your upper and lower body, tone your arms, and strengthen your back," he concluded. In other words, you'll get more "bang for your buck" on the rowing machine than on the treadmill.
Head over to Business Insider for more.