Does anyone else get a bit intimidated at the gym when it comes to trying out new machines, especially in front of the after-work crowd? The fear of making a mistake (in public, no less) often makes me just stick to the treadmill or the elliptical, which isn't necessarily the most efficient way to maximize calorie burn. If you need a little push to try out a new workout, then it may be worth your while to try the rowing machine—it actually uses a whopping 86% of the muscles in your body, according to PopSugar.
Rowing machines, or ergs, as they're also known, are so effective that NASA astronauts rely on them as a key part of their training, said Dino Adelfino, instructor at Row Club rowing studio in San Francisco. Although you may be no Frank Underwood right off the bat, the moves are pretty straightforward: Simply grab the lever with both hands and pull back simultaneously with legs and arms. If you need a little guidance, download the LiveRowing app, which gives users step-by-step rowing workouts.
If you're a dedicated Spin fan, rowing machines might prove to be a more efficient use of your time. In fact, rowing for 30 minutes works your body as much as a 90-minute cycling session—not bad, right? Kevin O'Connell, coach at Reebok CrossFit ONE, says it's also a great way to get back in shape if you're returning to the gym post-injury. "There is minimal impact loading, so it is safe for individuals that may have had ankle, knee or hip injuries," he says. Just remember to adjust the damper setting before you start—it should never be any higher than the "5" setting.
Looking for more ways to maximize your workout? This is how a Nike master trainer spends 15 minutes at the gym.