So, one of these question thingies

While I like swimming as a form of exercise I’d like to vary matters a bit. Living in the centre of a town means that cycling isn’t quite what it used to be – skimming through the countryside.

So, alternatives. Weights, well, yes, but not really. So, thinking about a rowing machine.

Anyone got any tips? What to look for? What to avoid? Types to bypass?

Things that cost £500 and up aren’t going to get chosen, at least not in this first iteration of trying it out.

So, the collective intelligence, what sayeth it?

51 thoughts on “So, one of these question thingies”

  1. Tim

    You get what you pay for. Less than £500 for a new machine won’t, in my view, get anything worth buying.

    The premier rowing machine is by Concept. It’s the one used by serious rowers. But they come in at £1,200+ new. They are built like tanks though and designed for endless use in gyms. If you can pick up a second hand one that has been privately owned, they are likely to be good as new.

    I bought a model C on ebay over 15 years ago and it still looks like it’s ‘as new’ and I’ve done c1.5m meters on it. A 10 second look on the internet found a refurbished Model C for £539.

  2. I like weights, think everyone should do some. It has the huge advantage that you can start cheaply and build kit up gradually so no painful start-up costs, and you can stop spending when (a) you have everything you want or (b) you get bored and give up. The kit also seldom goes wrong – even machines – get an old fashioned one and you just replace the pulleys when they stretch too much or wear out.

    You need a cardio to go with it – mine is cycling, which is also good practice at avoiding being killed. I am too hopeless at ball games and contact sports to do much else.

  3. I much prefer a cross-trainer, so much easier to exercise and watch telly. Again, you get what you pay for, we bought a professional gym grade machine. I could tell you what it is if I could be arsed to go downstairs and look, let me know if you want me to.

  4. I suppose it depends on how serious you want to get, but I would happily recommend a TotalGym.
    They are fine for anyone wanting to increase general strength and fitness and are less likely to cause strains than free weights. You can start out at the lowest incline, which is easy enough for beginners of any age, and work up to the steepest as you get stronger. They are also very efficient as you don’t have to spend hours to get results.
    The last time I looked you could often pick one up second hand on Ebay for about £50 (especially if you look for pickup only in your area).

  5. Be careful. A GP I went to asked me about exercise. “I cycle everywhere and I garden.” “Get off your bike and walk everywhere” said he. Soon I suffered from Policeman’s Heel in both feet. I wish the twerp had said “Cycle thrice as far”.

    So if you are used to cycling consider one of those indoor stationary bikes. You know your muscles, sinews, and whatnot are used to coping with cycling.

  6. Tim, assuming you are in your 50s don’t go anywhere near intense cardio. Concentrate on strength to help ameliorate the advancing years – that will also give give your heart enough of a workout. Go for big slow multi-muscle movements with gradually increasing weight – deadlifts. shoulder press, push-us. chin ups, etc.
    Google Mark Rippetoe.

  7. No, cardio’s good for me. When cycling, used to be 30 to 50 km a ride. When swimming, mile a time (3 times a week). Only a few months since I was doing that regularly. Cardio’s exactly what I do want. Would run it it weren’t for dodgy knees.

  8. Boxing training–you are likely a bit old for actual matches.

    Weights for strength/power.

    Combatives–or martial arts provided you be careful with martial arts as they have lots of non-practical stuff in them unless you are a natural. Look for the most practical–ie nastiest and least flashy –fighting skills.

    HIIT for wind/heart/.cardio

    Do that lot Tim and—with your various “business” schemes–you could be Arthur Daley and Terry McCann all rolled into one.

    .

  9. If you enjoy cycling you can get a turbo trainer for under £100.

    I use one which I mix with coastal rowing, walking, outdoor cycling and running to keep things varied.

  10. Second hand Concept 2 if you can manage it. You will always be able to resell it for the same money with ease.

  11. If you’re already swimming and/or cycling, you ought to do strength-building exercise. if you can’t be bothered with weights/gym, the web is full of programmes using your own bodyweight.

    Rowing is good exercise but cheap machines are worse than useless. And don’t buy an expensive one unless you know you love it and will get your money’s worth.

  12. I started running this summer – the couch to 5k program. A gentle progression over several weeks. I’ve a had a dodgy knee for years and I fully expected to have to quit the program but the opposite is true – my knee is more or less cured now.

    I’m no medic and don’t have a clue what’s wrong with your knees, but I suggest that you don’t write off running just out of hand.

  13. So if you are used to cycling consider one of those indoor stationary bikes. You know your muscles, sinews, and whatnot are used to coping with cycling.

    Remember to buy one or two industrial strength fans at the same time.

    When you ride outdoors, even in warm weather, you are cooled by the air you pass through. Indoors, especially in winter with the windows shut, you will be a bath of sweat within ten minutes and it is deeply unpleasant.

    If you have a garage with no car in it, that’s a decent place to use an indoor bike in winter. Possibly still with a fan though.

  14. Indoor cycling also requires a lot of motivation, it is very, very boring. Maybe rig up some TV/laptop and watch something.

  15. I would also suggest getting set of weights and doing some strength training. Dumbells are cheap and easy to store.
    Plenty of videos on youtube and the likes for short, intense workouts.
    I know you’re looking to supplement cycling/swimming for cardio purposes, but even a modicum of strength training has a knock on beneficial effects on well-being.
    It has a well known effect of maintaining or increasing testosterone production in middle aged males which will deffo help with the cardio!

  16. Sorry Tim, another one for strength training here. I’ve just started doing it and I’m wishing I’d done it years ago. The effect on health has been huge in just weeks. That’s not to say you can’t do cardio, but if you do no strength, you’re missing out more than you know. Free weights with a bar, bench and power rack is all you need, compound exercises.

    Rowing is a good exercise, but it can get highly repetitive, even when compared against other cardio. Agree that the concept rowers are the gold standard. Don’t buy a cheap one; an annoying rattle or wiggle in a rowing machine can be like Chinese water torture. Also, try one out properly; some people just don’t get on with the position.

    Personally I would go for a cross trainer machine (similar to cross country skiing but with a better elliptical motion) over a rower. Low impact, much more intensive than a static bike, involves the full body, quieter and less soul-destroying than a rowing machine.

  17. How much do the ladies cost in rural Portugal? That’d be ALOT more fun than indoor cycling! Make you ‘strong like bull’. 😉

  18. I read somewhere that Martin Johnson was too smashed up towards the end of his career to take part in much fitness training and his only serious exercise was on a rowing machine.

    Quite a few rugby teams use it.

  19. Dennis, Man of Substance and Girth

    TRX suspension trainers. Inexpensive and can easily be used in the house. Storage issues are zero. My personal trainer (don’t laugh) swears by them and we have it incorporated into my workouts for strength, core, balance and flexibility. The older you get (I’m an old fart at 62), the more you’ll appreciate being able to use them for balance and flexibility training.

  20. Dennis, Pec Flexing Senior Citizen

    For cardio I’d suggest cardio ropes. Again, inexpensive and easy to use and store in the house. I dislike most forms of cardio, but the ropes I like.

  21. You can do quite a lot of circuit training exercises without a proper gym – any empty space around the house will do (ground floor only for jumps)

  22. “You can do quite a lot of circuit training exercises without a proper gym – any empty space around the house will do”

    Indeed true. But revealed preferences suggest that very very few people get fit that way!

  23. Is there any competitive sport you could consider? I myself have been playing squash for 50 years, and it still puts a smile on my face. Running, swimming, rowing, gym work: done them all. Good exercise, but fun? Not so much.

  24. Based on the premise that a heart only has so many beats in its lifetime before it packs in, all forms of strenuous exercise should be avoided at your age. Gentle aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling (no hills) gardening and lovemaking with a more mature lady are to be recommended. Pipe smoking is also a good move as pipe smokers have an above average life expectancy and it’ll help suppress appetite ( I recommend the blends by Gawith and Hoggarth). Throw in a litre of the local red wine per day and you’re well on the way to the discovery of the “new you”.

  25. Find something that causes to you to expend energy in order to get something else done.

    I lost weight when for six months I was living six miles from the nearest bus stop and was cycling twice a week to do my shopping.

  26. If you’re looking at getting a rowing machine & haven’t done it before look at some instruction videos. Its quiet common for beginners to hurt their back through poor technique.
    Also, lots of people find rowing machines very boring – slow cadence & nothing to look at. You need a certain stubbornness to fight through until you can get a certain zen mindset.
    I’m 51 and still compete in rowing. It’s a great sport.

  27. Bloke in North Dorset

    How about getting a bike rack and driving out in to the country? Its not just about the exercise but the fresh air and sunshine, but big pluses especially of you spend a lot of time indoors looking at a computer screen.

    Since I damaged some nerves in my back I’ve been struggling with the running and have just about admitted defeat. Like the Watt bike in the gym, some of the guys have apps even let them take part in races. I also like the elliptical cross trainer because I can use a running gait without the impact.

    As others have said, brisk walking can get the heart rate up, 5 miles at something like 4mph is a really good workout.

    If you do go for a rowing machine get some to teach you how to row properly. Most of the people I see in the gym are heading for serious back problems.

    And another +1 for some weights, as we get older we lose muscle mass quite quickly if we don’t use them. Its why hospital is so bad for old people, they can lose 25% in less than a week.

  28. Whatever you do, learn to breathe through your nose. Mouth breathing is a disaster and almost everyone does it.

    Check out Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown

  29. Ipod and headphones.

    I found any cardio longer than 20 minutes boring but listen to some music and the time soon passes.

    I’ve done a half-marathon on the rower.

  30. Join the local underwater hockey club. It’s like swimming but not boring and you get to go for a drink afterwards.

  31. Living in the centre of a town

    Stairs not lift/escalator with heavy backpack/bergen/shopping

    Heavy can be sand, rocks, water, lead, car flywheel…

  32. Weights are good for longevity. Also when you’re in the old age home and some matron tries to slap you around you can give as good as you get.

    Cardio, severely over-rated. Cycling and running mean more visits to the doctor with attendant radiology, and these days the physios are large ugly males. Walking is just as good. Swimming, very cool.

  33. “As others have said, brisk walking can get the heart rate up, 5 miles at something like 4mph is a really good workout.”

    On a bad day (weather-wise) 5 miles can take me up to 2hrs – that’s across the moor, wading through the mires, fording fast-running streams, up and down steep inclines… It’s not exactly Olympian stuff but it keeps the heart pumping and beats the gym, both physically and mentally.

  34. Like the Watt bike in the gym

    A good example because the wide double ‘tri bars’ allow me to rest my iPad on them so I can read while riding it.

    Cycling and running mean more visits to the doctor with attendant radiology

    Well, running has obvious impacts (no pun intended) on knees, ankles and hips, but unless you get hit by a car or crash cycling is about the least impact exercise you can get.

  35. The most rewarding exercise is pulling the cork out of a decent bottle of claret.

    Apart from that, cycling, the seven minute workout and brisk walks…

  36. Bloke in North Dorset

    Bernie G,

    On a bad day (weather-wise) 5 miles can take me up to 2hrs – that’s across the moor, wading through the mires, fording fast-running streams, up and down steep inclines… It’s not exactly Olympian stuff but it keeps the heart pumping and beats the gym, both physically and mentally.

    Fair point, I should have said across flat(ish) firm terrain. When I’m out hiking in the the likes of the Brecon Beacons, Lake District or SW Coast Path it gets down to 3 miles in the hour.

  37. If the putative election goes ahead, that’s my excercise sorted, complete waste to walk 26 miles without a bag of leaflets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *