5 Reasons to Love the Indoor Rower (erg)

We have no idea why you are not rowing. Indoor rowing is on of the top low-impact, calorie-burning exercises of all time. Here's five reasons to ditch the cardio trinity (treadmill, elliptical and spin bike) and up your fitness with the ergometer (erg). 

  1. Whole-Body Workout: Rowing works 84% of your muscle mass...and that's without shadow-boxing with 2-lb weights. Rowing works 9 major muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulders, triceps, back and biceps. Most people believe that rowing is an upper body dominant exercise, but the majority of the workload comes from your legs and core. So if you're looking to strengthen and tone your back, legs, butt, arms and abs you only need one machine, the erg.
  2. Joint Friendly: Rowing is one of the top 5 calorie burning exercises while minimizing impact on the joints. A single 60-minute session can easily burn 400-800 calories. For those who are overweight, the sliding seat displaces ones weight so the load on their body is less and they can make a smooth transition to other activities as the weight comes off. The erg is also a great tool for cross-training or maintaining fitness when injuries surface for runners and cyclists.
  3. Heart Health: Aerobic training has certainly proved to be one of the best ways to improve cardiovascular performance (think heart rate, stroke volume and heart contractility). As little as 30 minutes of steady state work on the erg can help strengthen your heart, keep your arteries clear and reduce cholesterol and blood sugar. You're never too old to start either. Studies have shown that improved cardiovascular fitness can increase life span.
  4. Posture Improvement: Our current work environments, reliance on our smartphones and time spent vegging out in front of the television are all wreaking havoc on our posture. Bad posture can affect a number of health related issues such as upper back/neck pain, lung function, depression and circulation. Not only is rowing an effective calorie-burning cardiovascular workout, it also improves posture by developing the upper back, increasing midline stability and engaging the glute/hamstring complex. With proper form and a good coach, rowing can also increase your mobility.
  5. Stress Relief: The rhythmic nature of rowing with the inclusion of controlled breathing can actually help reduce mental stress. Not only will the repetitive nature of rowing help take your mind off the worries of daily life, but it will also stimulate the production of endorphins (your body's mood booster and natural painkiller). It doesn't take a lot either, just 20-minutes of rowing at an easy pace can help clear the mind and control stress. 

If you're not strapping into an erg right now you're waisting time. Whether you're looking to shed some pounds or a way to cross-train in the Texas heat, the erg deserves to be in your fitness program. Don't you think it's time to discover the power of the erg?

Looking to learn more about the erg? We're hosting an Indoor Rowing Clinic on August 1st that will include lecture, individualized coaching on your rowing technique, workouts and skills drills you can utilize to help you reach your goals. Sign up here

Interested in adding rowing to your fitness program? We have certified coaches ready to help you incorporate rowing to help you reach your goals. 

Strength Training For Runners

Running alone is not enough to reach your full potential as a runner. Successful endurance-training programs must include key elements to achieve optimal performance. One of the essential elements that is often neglected by runners is strength. Whether it is time requirements, facility access, intimidation or fear of unwanted bulk, runners try to justify not adding strength training to their program. We know, through studies and experience, that intelligent strength training provides the following benefits to the endurance athlete:

  • Improved running economy (1)
  • Improved muscle endurance
  • Reduction of fatigue in postural muscles (2)
  • Improved muscle capillarization (aids in oxygen transportation)
  • Improved neuromuscular coordination (3)
  • Reduced risk of injury (4)
  • Stronger bones
  • Stronger connective tissue

When you look at optimizing endurance you need to look at what variables need to be improved. Endurance is based on cardiovascular performance (heart rate, stroke volume and heart contractility), the strength of your skeletal muscles and how efficient your muscles are extracting and utilizing oxygen. While we know that aerobic training has certainly proved to be one of the best ways to improve cardiovascular performance, there are other ways to achieve the latter two variables and strength plays a large role.  

Efficient movement is one that allows you to activate your muscles as fast as possible. After all, strength is nothing without the ability for your body to control it. As runners we have to strive for efficient movement as our foot contact times are between .08 and .3 seconds during the stance phase. The better our neuromuscular control (brain-to-muscle communication) the better our efficiency. To get more from our nervous system we must utilize methods to recruit more muscle fibers to contract. One of the most effective methods for this is heavy (maximal) weight lifting. Not only do we get a huge increase in muscle fiber recruitment, but we do so without a  big cardiovascular or connective tissue training stress. 

Running economy (RE) is defined as the energy demand for a given speed of submaximal running (think marathon pace). So a runner with a good RE will use less energy (and less oxygen) than a runners with poor RE at the same speed. If we want to run faster, we inherently reduce our ground contact time and need to increase our force production. High end strength and power allows us to accomplish this. 

Intelligent programming focused on correct movement, muscle balance and coordination is important for injury prevention. Heavy strength training not only results in muscular strength, but mechanical strength of connective tissue structures surrounding joints and bone density. Think about this on your next run; each time their foot contacts the ground an "efficient" runner sees a vertical load of 2.6x bodyweight, a braking load of 0.5x bodyweight and a lateral load of 0.2x bodyweight. Now considering that this loading happens anywhere from 150-185 times a minute, you can see the importance of effective strength training. 

It is important to go ahead and define what type of resistance training is most effective for endurance athletes. Most training programs consider hill sprints, core work or circuit training to be sufficient for strength training but we do not. Maximal or explosive strength training was more effective in improving strength and neuromuscular performance and enhancing run economy in recreational runners than concurrent circuit and endurance training (1). Your strength program should be focused on neuromuscular performance and avoid hypertrophy. Strength training does not mean muscle mass. The thought of increased mass is one of the biggest deterrents for endurance athletes. Without a doubt, there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to a runner building muscle. Proper training and nutrition will lead to strength, not unwanted bulk.

Your time in the gym should primarily be spent getting strong and developing clean and functional movement patterns that enhance balance, symmetry and stability - not pushing though several repetitions of an exercise with poor form competing for time. Most endurance athletes that are new to strength training will need to focus first on volume (lighter loads, high reps) and form to prepare the body for more intensive work. When sufficient work tolerance is achieved, the athlete can begin on neuromuscular recruitment and rate of force development (using heavier loads and more explosive movements). Most endurance athletes should strength train 2-3x/week. As an athlete progresses in their sport, the number of strength training days may be reduced to 1-2x/week.  

Looking to add strength training to your program? Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

  1. Taipale RS et al, 2010
  2. Dudley and Fleck, 1987
  3. Zatsiorsky, 1995
  4. Bompa, 1996

Infographic: Should You Exercise When Sick?

With flu and cold season here in full effect, we thought it was a good time to share this great infographic from the guys at Precision Nutrition. We currently have a couple of coaches working through their Level 1 Certification and have found them to be a great resource. 

*Note on this infographic: Make sure you read the entire infographic...especially the Textbook Guidelines for Exercising While Sick. If you think you might be sick you do not want to expose others. Instead, choose low to moderate activity that you can complete by yourself and indoors.

Seven Women Who Make Time to Work Out

Many will make excuses to miss a workout. The number one excuse will be time. There aren’t enough hours in the day and we all know that’s the truth. You must make time for what is important and your health should certainly be #1. I recently read that we will all die, how will you live?

Here are examples of how 7 busy women make time to workout at enduraLAB and why it is so important to them.  

Jessie Dearien - Account Director at iProspect

“Starting in 2014, I made exercise a priority in my life - no matter how busy I get, I know how much better I will feel physically, mentally, and emotionally if I hit the gym.

I try to work out first thing in the morning. This eliminates the possibility of excuses for not exercising later in the day. Plus, I start my work day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

I also travel a lot for work. Being on the road can be a major temptation to give up the workout regimen. Before I leave for a few days, I'll plan out the days/times I am going to exercise and work with one of the trainers at the Lab to craft a workout that's easy to do in a hotel room or even outside. Then, I stick to it!”

Priscila Dilley- School Leadership Director for FWISD and mother of 2

“As a working mom and wife, there are many responsibilities in the day that you need to keep up with.  It is important that I take time to invest in myself and in my health.  Taking an hour out of my day to work out allows me to be more productive at my job and a better mommy.  Time is always a factor, but if you plan your schedule ahead and commit to a better YOU, everyone benefits, most importantly yourself. “

Jo Anna Leuck- Vice Chair of Academics in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Mother of 2

"I work out to stay sane.  I have chosen a high stress career that is well known to quickly cause burnout. I find that a trip to the Lab after a busy shift allows me to sweat out any stress and to return home to really be present with my family.  I love being around other people who thrive on healthy choices.  This inspires me to model healthy eating and staying active for the kids.  The how is harder than the why, but the key is being flexible and not accepting any excuses about fitting it into the day. Whether I need to get up early or stay up late (or both!) it is worth it to feel healthy to be the best mom that I can be."

Sonya Bailey- Stay At Home Mom of 2

“With the goal of putting God first, family second and myself third, I have found that working out must take priority. My mood is much more positive and energy level is raised to new heights when I am consistent with my workouts and healthy eating choices. I have found that working out before the kids are up and my day has gotten started make the most sense as the excuses to put it off can be overwhelming.”

Cami Fausset- Nurse

"I make time for the gym because I have become addicted to enduraLAB workouts. I love the high intensity programming and have been going for almost two years now. With a busy nurses schedule (13 hour shifts) I hardly have the option to workout on the three days a week that work. However, a lot of the times I will go to the 5am classes on workdays, although exhausting. If I don’t end up doing the 5am classes before my shift, I double up on the days I’m off work. I like to get 5 or 6 workouts a week at the gym so I like to go to the 9:30am class and then I will go to the 4pm open gym later that afternoon." 

Lisa Gardner- Private practice Gynecologist/ Surgeon

"I make time to workout everyday bc I lived with chronic back pain since I was 17. I was involved in a swimming accident that left me with thoracic spinal fusion. This year has been the first year since then that I've been pain free,  thanks to lifting weights and strength and stability training at Enduralab.

I get up early before I see my patients, Monday through Friday to go to the Lab. I run 2-3 days a week also. I workout Saturday by myself and sometimes on Sunday.

I can't miss a day anymore bc it's a habit I have adopted since starting my training with Lee. Working with Enduralab has changed my life and has propelled me forward into seeing fitness as a lifestyle."

Kathleen McNaughton- Elementary Literacy Network Specialist for FWISD

“I choose to make time to work out for a couple of reasons. First of all I feel so much better physically and mentally when I work out, but probably the most important reason I work out is because the time I take to go to the gym is almost the only time I take just for myself. It is the time I work on being the person I want to be, stronger, more confident, and ultimately happier. When I meet a goal at the gym, I feel like I do just about anything.“

So you see, everyone can be too busy. It’s up to you to fit it in your schedule. No matter how high the wall, if you want what’s on the other side you will find a way to get it.