Rowing, weights, or steroids???

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karenf333
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Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by karenf333 » April 5th, 2011, 9:35 am

Hi, I’ll try to be as brief as possible. I am 55. In the last two years I’ve put on 10 lbs, all around my middle. I have back fat around my bra, and a big fat crease where my lats used to be … pretty flabby arms too.

I have an impeccable diet, and have walked/jogged four miles per day for years … my lifestyle has not changed significantly since the weight gain. The general consensus is that due to aging, I have finally reached the point of losing enough of my muscle mass to cause a weight gain. (This would be because I have only done aerobic exercise, and have not done any weight training.) Sure enough, upon attempting some fairly basic callisthenic types of exercise I found I was frighteningly weak in the upper body.

Then I bought a rower. I want to keep things very simple and low tech (that’s what I’ve always loved about walking). Rowing seemed to be the solution to that, as it is a compound exercise that can be done at home. Kill all those birds with one stone, right? :) But now I find there is a raging debate, mostly on the internet, to which I can find no conclusive answer. The only solution is to come to you, the women who actually row!

Does rowing REALLY build muscle too, or does it only burn fat? I already walk! I’m not really interested in any more aerobic exercise. What I DO want to do, is build muscle in every area of my back (and arms too if possible) in a simple, inexpensive way, as I cannot afford to join a gym. I don’t need to look like a bodybuilder (yea, I was kidding about the steroids) but I do want to look like I did ten years ago. Firm! Some definition somewhere! I want to get rid of the fat crease on my lats! Will I be able to achieve this with rowing or am I wasting my time? If I can do this with rowing; any suggestions on frequency, time, and resistance level?

I am currently rowing for 30 minutes per day at a #4 resistance level. Not trying to break any speed records. Just trying to increase resistance and concentrate on form. I would greatly appreciate any and all advice.

Karen

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gregsmith01748
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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by gregsmith01748 » April 5th, 2011, 11:47 am

First, I'm not a woman, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Second, I think you made a great choice by picking the rowing machine.

Third, a damper setting around 4 should be fine for just about anything you want to do.

Fourth, fat burning vs muscle tone. This all depends on how hard you row. What I've read says that most fat burning takes place when your heart rate is between 60% and 75% of your maximum heart rate. When you row faster than that, then you start to put stress on anaerobic systems in your body and put more stress on your muscles and connective tissues. Recovery from this stress is what builds muscle tone. In the spirit of keeping things simple, I have a suggestion for you. As you are doing your thirty minute rows, try to a set of 10 really hard strokes every 2 minutes. See how much faster you make these 10 strokes than your steady pace.

Eventually, you might want to make your workouts on the rower more structured, but I think this might make your sessions a bit more toning.
Greg
Age: 55 H: 182cm W: 90Kg
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karenf333
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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by karenf333 » April 6th, 2011, 7:37 am

Hi Greg,

Female or not, thanks for stepping up to the plate! I can see that the women's forum is not nearly as active as the rest of this site.

I see where you're coming from re the short, more intense spurts. What about what I've always heard about low weight, high reps though? Would that be the difference between toning and 'building'? Or am I just into semantics here?

ACK!! Since I haven't heard from any other mid-life females in this forum about what works for them, I'm assuming that it's NOT working for them! Maybe for the first time in my life I'll just have to give in to Mother Nature. Hmmm, what a novel concept ... fat but fit? Is that an oxymoron?

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hjs
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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by hjs » April 6th, 2011, 10:19 am

If you want to build some muscle and power you should row short and hard pieces. Just doing long endurance work won't do the trick. That is fine if you want to burm some extra cal next to a wise dieet, but for building muscle it won't do much. Building muscle is working hard in short bursts.
For my training see twitter @Hjsrowing

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gregsmith01748
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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by gregsmith01748 » April 6th, 2011, 12:24 pm

A quick suggestion. There are a good number of women who are very active on the Concept2 UK website. You might want to post your question over there. A number of them also have training blogs that are entertaining and instructive.

Here is the link: http://concept2.co.uk/forum/

With regard to building vs toning. Typically, when I have heard of people building muscle mass, they are talking about very low reps at high weights (like 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps, or even less). Doing 10 sets of 10 hard strokes is a lot different, it will just put an emphasis on different metabolic pathways and more stress on your bones and muscles, promoting faster improvement in your fitness.

I hope you don't get too discouraged! I think you'll get a lot of the concept2.
Greg
Age: 55 H: 182cm W: 90Kg
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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by jamesg » April 7th, 2011, 12:36 am

K, rowing will get you fit and have some effect on you, if and only if you row well and long. To do this, set the damper to zero and pull full length strokes, with a straight back. Use arms, swing and legs all to their full extent. You won't develop any more muscle than is actually needed to do this. Try this for at least a year, pulling 30 minutes a day at an average of >1 Watt per kg fit body weight (BMI=23). Then ADD any other work you like, without reducing this basic training. Muscle without fitness and endurance is just as much a dead weight as fat.

Don't expect that by rowing you can do impossible things (illusions >>> delusions); but what it can do (fitness, cv capability, reduced loss of bone mass, flexibility, general health and well-being), you only see if you actually row.

This is what rowing looks like:
http://www.britishrowing.org/rowing-stroke

Note the blade is in the water in two pics of 8; doesn't mean the boat's not going fast. Which is what we're here for.
77y, 188cm, 85kg, MHR 160. Last 2k (May 1018) 8.37@23

Paladian97
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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by Paladian97 » July 12th, 2011, 7:35 am

Hello Karen,
Better late than never, I guess. I've just got back into rowing after a lay off of more than 3 years. I had to quit because of a debilitating arthritic condition. I gained a massive amount of weight, not just because of age and menopause,but also it's now very hard for me to actually hold the weights, and/or do most kinds of aerobic exercise. For quite a while there I couldn't walk very far either. But after a bit of fiddling around and experimentation, I can row again. For the first couple of weeks I certainly experienced muscle soreness in my quads, back, arms and calves. Therefore I reckon I am certainly using all those muscles. Now I can row more, I am finding that lactic acid build up is also occurring, which also means muscle use. So yeah, I reckon the rowing is an allover exercise, which will help you firm up muscle, gain strength, and lose weight into the bargain.

The thing is as we get older, we need a lower calorie intake, so we either eat less or train harder. And I love my food :)

For the record, i'm rowing about 10,000 metres 5 to 6 days a week, and I try to row as hard as I can. I'm 64 years old. I row at damper level 8, which is no doubt way too high, but it works for me.
TinaG.

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Re: Rowing, weights, or steroids???

Post by ncauchon » September 16th, 2011, 11:04 pm

Hi Karen,
I am wondering how you are doing now with the rowing since 1 year 1/2 has passed.
I have had the same thing happening to me, I weight 10 pounds more than I did. I am now 56 and weigh 145 lbs to 147.
I used to be 130 in my thirties, then 140 in my forties and now........ more....and more.
I work out at the gym on a regular basis. I am told I look good but I know I have a roll around my waist and I'd love to
get rid of it so bad.
I started rowing Aug. 15th and I have done so far. 59,000 metres.
I find rowing warms me up and I sweat more than eliptical machine......
I plan to continue rowing to challenge my muscles......from getting used to the same exercices.
On thing my trainer told me is that muscles are smart and like to stay in a confort zone..... so it is a good thing
to change the exercices you do to shake up the muscles.
Let me know how you are doing, I'd like to know maybe you can help me to find a solution.
By the way, Steroids will make you hungrier and will retain water and makes people look bigger.
Nicole
Vancouver British Columbia

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