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Written by Natalie Mendoza

What is Rowing?

One of the sports many people enjoyed watching in the Olympics this year was rowing. Rowing is a sport that can be done as a team or individually and strengthens rowers’ leg muscles. Squats are a good example of an exercise that builds the same muscles used while rowing. Rowers use boats that are designed differently than boats used in other sports. One difference is that rowers have seats that slide along a short track in the boat. Rowing is also different from paddling because oars are rowed backward due to how the boats are designed. Boats also can carry a different number of passengers.

The Basics

Boats are categorized by how many rowers are needed to row them. The smallest boat size is called a single; only one person rows a single. It takes more power to row a single because there is only one person rowing; however, the rower in a single does not have to synchronize their rowing with everybody else. Two people row a double, which is the next smallest boat size. People in a double synchronize their rowing with each other and have more power than a boat with a single rower. A quad is rowed by four people, which will have even more power than a single or a double, but all four rowers will have to synchronize their strokes with each other. The largest boat can hold up to eight people. Boats with the most people will produce the most power with each stroke and travel the fastest. While larger boats take longer to accelerate than smaller boats, once the larger boat accelerates it will surpass a smaller boat. For this reason, boats only race against other boats with the same number of people. 

Muscle Groups at Work

Whether rowers are rowing in a group or individually, rowing is mainly a leg workout. Whilerowers use their arms, abdominal, and leg muscles, most of a stroke’s power comes from the legs. Approximately seventy percent of a stroke is powered by the legs. The legs provide the most power because they are the largest muscles. The abdominal muscles account for around twenty percent of a stroke’s power because they are the second strongest muscle used compared to legs. The arms only amount to a small fraction of the power used in each stroke.

The Boat

The boats that rowers use are designed differently than other boats. One major difference about a rowboat is the direction it faces. A rower faces the opposite direction that they are moving. Because a rower is traveling backward, the stroke is done opposite compared to a stroke taken with a paddle in a kayak or a canoe. Another difference is the presence of an oarlock. An oarlock is a small place that prevents the oars from falling out of the boat. This means that oars can only row on one side of the boat. In small boats, rowers row with two oars. In larger boats, the rowers alternate which direction their oar is facing, so that half of the boat always rows on the left side and the other half of the boat always grows on the right side. 
Rowing is an exciting way to exercise while building muscles, strengthening teamwork, and having fun. Depending on an individual’s preferences, rowing involves winning competitions or just having fun on the water. Rowing may involve socializing with your teammates or providing some quiet time to think based on however you want to row. Rowing is a unique water sport that can satisfy anyone looking for a good way to exercise.