Rowing Machines

Anyone use a Concept 2( rowing machine or something similar? Pros and Cons? How often and how long have you been using it?

Thanks, Jim

– Last Updated: Dec-01-07 7:14 PM EST –

73 replies

I still love it/

Don’t own one
But use one at the gym, and have been lobbying the wife for one for a long time. I don’t think there’s any better value in a single piece of exercise equipment, for many of the reasons cooldoctor said. $850 will get you a treadmill that is noisy and not too reliable, will breakdown and be expensive to repair. It will get you a low end weight machine that is barely adequate. It will get you a subpar elliptical machine. Or a decent but not top of the line mag-resistance bike. That same $850 will get you the industry standard rowing machine, rugged and reliable enough to be used in gyms and by crews everywhere.

And the cardio/aerobic workout on the rower is almost as good as a run, without the impact on bones and joints.

Added bonus: you can crank up the tunes and close your eyes during a rowing workout. I wouldn’t recommend closing your eyes on a treadmill.

just ordered one
When I was a member of the local gym, I’d use one every day. Super workout, always had trouble walking down the stairs after I finished on it.

Only thing I’ve ever done that even compares to the head-throbbing, sick stomach feeling you can obtain with the rower is to run 400m track event at 110%.

No longer at the gym, and with winter setting in, I ordered a Concept 2 last week. Should be in mid-week!

I use at gym
I do 25 minutes as hard as I can go 3 times a week as part of 50 min aerobic work out. Seems to be a good low impact workout for kayaking muscles and the machines are well made. I’m still fat so not sure my workout is burning that many calories.

re: concept2
I bought one in '94 or '95; and use it 4 - 5 days a week on average. With proper form it does work lower, upper and core muscles.

It is quiet enough to use in front of the tv, I think that the current model(2 generations?) is even quieter and also come with better displays - which do help keep you motivated.

Since it’s health club grade they do hold up very well. I’ve replaced the rollers under the seat and one other piece that I can’t recall.

They do hold their value pretty well, so if you look around you can probably buy a used one for $400 - $500. You can also get a discount on one if you buy one used in their indoor rowing meets (CRASH-B).

I had one a while back and loved it, won’t go into why not anymore.

Left and right are independent and you can work the torso rather than the arms.

Work quite well
Both of my sons got into competitive rowing so picked up a demo one. They offer an excellent upper. lower body aerobic workout and are reasonably quiet. Very well made.

Paddle Simulator
ANyone tinkered with a way to build a home made machine. My Mirage cost me 800 bucks and I can’t see spending 2k to buy a machine

Literally millions
of meters on the C2.

Be sure to get some good coaching/instruction. Poor form will just f*** up your back.

One of the best workouts you can get for your whole body. A few complimentary exercises to strengthen the hamstring and pectoral groups would be a good idea.

Search “concept rower” on

– Last Updated: Dec-01-07 11:50 PM EST –

Dozens of videos.

Rowing workouts with Olympic Gold Medalist Xeno Muller

On Ebay, I have Xeno Muller's DVD set. Programs for the CII. Search it on ebay.

Two thoughts for those rowers out there:
1) check out the front mirror on here.
Might be helpful for form; I don't know but I'm going to try it.

2) Try rowing with and without music in perfect darkness. That is a technique used by cyclists--they put the training bike in the closet, and grind out a workout. Makes one in total synch with the body; heart, muscles, sinew and guts. Total darkness. Pitch dark.

I agree with those above, this is the best made, and most wonderful, workout equipment I have ever seen for the money.

So just started back on the Marquis de Sade exercise machine. I don’t own one either, but my local rec center has one. They just upgraded to the latest D (?) model-very smooth and quiet with all sorts of gimmicky games on the monitor. The Concept II mailings have a selection of different workouts to stave off staleness. Did a 12K pyramid one the other night that durn near did me in. Goal is Crash Bs in February.

I’d echo the proper form recommendation-you can really jack your lower back. It’s also hard on the elbow flexors when you first start out. Watch the type of shorts you wear also-no seams. (We’ll not go into detail here…)

A favorite form of amusement is to watch some guy who can bang along on a treadmill all night get onto the erg and go out too hard, too fast. Few make it past ten minutes, so even if someone’s on it when I go to do a workout, it’s a pretty safe bet they won’t be on there long. :wink:

My son’s high school club have some in which the wheel for resistance is a bicycle rear wheel with a sprocket They have a chain that has been cut. One end of the chain is attached to the handle then it goes over the sprocket and heads back towards the bottom of the rail that the seat slides on. That end is attached to a bungie which in turn is attached to the underside of the rail that the seat slides on. The bungie pulls the chain & handle back towards the sprocket when the rower slides in the direction of the wheel. Flat pieces of anything can be attached to the spokes of the wheel to increase resistance. Platform for the feet to sit in was just plywood with velcro straps to hold the feet in. Can’t quite remember how they did the sliding seat part.

Paddle simulator
Search the archives where a paddler made one from a Nordic Trac™ ski machine. He included great photos and it’s not that complicated to transform. Truly a simple, unique idea. It was at least a year ago. Photos were attached to an e-mail he sent me when I inquired.

I still have the photos. Haven’t gotten mine quite finished yet, but it’ll work well now that the river’s frozen and keep those muscles in tune.

If I can do it, anyone should be able to.

My main cost was the long, 1" dowell and my time.

Best of luck in finding it, as I’ve not yet figured out how to do a search on this site.

Need to do that soon.

It’s a fantastic workout
I’ve had mine for 1.5 years, and try to use it 3-4 times a week. As stated you can mess up your back with improper form. But it does build muscle, and will kick your @$$ in a hurry! I think overworking it is worse than a nice long moderately paced workout. Just as walking burns nearly the same number of calories as running, with a lot less stress on the body. I really enjoy mine.

something along the line of two flywheels, I’d like to get a hold of an old nordic track and come up with something. The stand is nothing to build and NT sells those flywheels for 50 bucks each and…

One P-net Paddler
did modify a Nordic Trak a fw years back to use as a speedstroke-style paddling machine. I picked up an old one at a church rummage sale for 20 bucks but have yet to try the conversion. I have the photos he sent me, but when my HD crashed some time ago, his instructions on the conversion (along with this kind samaritan’s name) were lost. Looks like he inverted the padded chest rest and spliced on cables through some form of hollow bar to replicate a paddle shaft.

Two flywheels…I take it you’re after more resistance then, more anaerobic than purely aerobic focus for your workouts? When I cycling competitively eons ago, I had a four fan windtrainer, versus the usual two in the days before mag and fluid trainers. Man oh man was that thing difficult, plus when you were cranking, or attempting to, it sounded like a small Cessna taxiing.

as above
it’s an excellent machine. just watch out for your back. i have decent form on the c2 and still managed to herniate a disc. too many long workouts. the current advice from the real rowers is to limit erg workouts to 30 minutes- as you get tired you tend to overstress your back. i’m back to using it now, probably 3/week, either 5K or 30 mins, always after doing 30 mins or so on the speedstroke or elliptical to warm up.


“Rowing” and the Concept II
I learned to row (single seat sculling) on the Potomac in the 90s after using earlier versions of the Concept machines for about 10 years prior to that. Once you know how to row, it is easy to spot other rowers in a line up of Concept II users (such as at one of those brutal but fun “erg-offs.”) Those who row appear to be taking much more time with each “stroke” (in other words, they look slower) but also build distance (and ergs) much faster than those who are simply gym rats. That is because the rowers know and use the correct form. Rowers understand that 50-60% of the power in each stroke comes from your legs (that’s called “the drive”), 30 or so from your back and the rest from your arms. It is primarily a leg sport (though certainly a total body workout.) When you walk in a gym and see people on the Concept II going very fast, hunching over and firing backwards, chain flying, then you know that you are probably watching someone who is going to hurt their back! I strongly recommend Joe Paduda’s book, “The Art of Sculling” before you make your investment in that Concept rowing machine (which IS a terrific machine.) Great luck! It is a wonderful sport.

Thanks Cooldoc!
I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel here.

Yes, I still really like my C2 Ergometer after 15 years of usage (I have owned all models except the latest Model-E).

I am currently working the 2007 C2 Holiday Challenge (log 200,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas-ever). Only 90,000 meters to go.