CROSS TRAINING FOR CYCLISTS: WHY INDOOR ROWING IS A MUST
For cyclists seeking to optimize performance, prevent injuries, and maintain a well-rounded fitness level, cross training is vital. Incorporating indoor rowing into your training regimen provides a wealth of benefits supported by scientific evidence, including a full-body workout, low-impact exercise, improved cardiovascular endurance, enhanced core strength, and time efficiency. By embracing indoor rowing, cyclists will become stronger, more balanced athletes, leading to improved cycling performance and overall fitness.
FULL-BODY WORKOUT FOR CYCLISTS
While cycling primarily targets the lower body muscles, scientific studies have shown that rowing engages the legs, core, arms, and back. Incorporating indoor rowing will deliver comprehensive strength and endurance training for both the upper and lower body, creating well-rounded muscular strength and stability and reduce muscle imbalances (Millet et al., 2002).
Additionally, rowing targets different parts of the lower body. While cycling primarily focuses on the quads and can lead to overuse injuries, particularly in the knees due to repetitive stress on the knee joint (Silberman, 2013). By incorporating indoor rowing, a hip-dominant activity engaging the glutes and hamstrings, cyclists can address the imbalances caused by cycling's knee-dominant nature. Rowing helps strengthen the supporting muscles around the knees and provides a counterbalance to the quad-dominant nature of cycling.
JOINT-FRIENDLY AND LOW IMPACT TRAINING
Both cycling and indoor rowing are known for their low-impact nature, making them ideal for individuals with joint issues or recovering from injuries. The fluid mechanics of the rowing motion minimizes stress on the joints, promoting joint health and facilitating active recovery (Yamamoto et al., 2017). By alternating between cycling and rowing, you can alleviate strain on your joints caused by repetitive pedaling while still reaping the rewards of a high-effort, low-impact exercise.
BOOST CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE
Enhance your cardiovascular endurance by combining the benefits of cycling and rowing. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine compared the effects of cycling, rowing, and their combination on cardiovascular fitness. The findings indicated that the combined cycling and rowing group exhibited greater improvements in cardiovascular endurance measures, including VO2max and time to exhaustion, compared to the cycling-only group (Ziemann et al., 2011). The engagement of upper body muscles in rowing intensifies the cardiovascular challenge, leading to heightened overall endurance, increased stamina, enhanced oxygen uptake, and improved performance on the bike.
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE AND ENHANCE STABILITY
A strong core is crucial for optimal form and stability during cycling. A study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics analyzed muscle activation patterns during indoor rowing and found that rowing requires continuous activation of the core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back, throughout the entire stroke (Hickey et al., 2009). This constant activation fosters enhanced core strength and stability, providing cyclists with a solid foundation by supporting better posture and improving cycling efficiency, while minimizing the risk of back pain.
TIME EFFICIENCY AND WEATHER INDEPENDENCE
Harness the convenience of indoor rowing, which is an incredibly time-efficient workout, as well as unaffected by outdoor weather conditions. Rowing engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, resulting in high energy expenditure and maximizing calorie burn (Maddison et al., 2010). The ability to achieve a full-body workout in less time makes indoor rowing an efficient cross-training option, especially when outdoor cycling is impractical due to adverse weather conditions, allowing cyclists to maintain their training schedule without interruptions.
WHY CROSS-TRAIN WITH ERGATTA?
Ergatta offers a wide range of engaging game-based workouts and personalized training programs oriented around competition, steady progression, and real-time performance tracking. A few key reasons Cyclist will love the Ergatta Rower:
COMPETITIVE & GAME-BASED
Like Zwift? Well, every Ergatta game is a real workout designed around progress and results; with responsive controls, real-time feedback, true interactivity, motivating goals, and visual elegance. Staying motivated and engaged is easy when you are inches away from beating your rival in a live race or crushing your PR. Explore 9+ ways to workout.
CALIBRATED FOR PROGRESSION
Just like the 5 heart-rate zones, Ergatta offers personalized intensity zones that are set with an initial test and automatically adapt with you as you improve. They also make sure each target, competitor and challenge is intelligently adapted to you. Learn more about intensity zones.
Utilizing water resistance for indoor rowing has many benefits. It ensures a smooth and even stroke so it's easy on the back and joints, and it provides a nearly silent training experience and requires minimal maintenance, perfect for indoor training. Discover more benefits of water rowing.
Expand your community with a whole new group of individuals that are just as dedicated, competitive, challenging, and supportive as your current crew. Join the Ergatta community.
SYNCS WITH STRAVA, APPLE WATCH, AND MORE...
Ergatta has plenty of integrations available, enabling users to track their fitness progress, current health stats, listen to their favorite music, and more. See the full list of integrations.
HOW DO OUR MEMBERS USE ERGATTA TO ENHANCE THEIR CYCLING REGIMEN?
Meet one of our power users, Brian Payne (Ergatta user: houseofpayne); an avid cyclist and rower. He has rowed over 10 million meters on the Ergatta Rower and is a staunch advocate of using indoor rowing as cross-training for cycling.
WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY ADVANTAGES OF INCORPORATING INDOOR ROWING AS A CROSS TRAINING METHOD FOR CYCLISTS?
– Without a doubt, indoor rowing is the best “complementary” exercise a cyclist could dream of! We already have strong legs, which makes the transition to rowing very easy (60% of the stroke is using the legs!). But rowing also exposes how weak our arms, back, and core can be, relatively speaking. Starting a rowing regimen that focuses on proper technique will quickly teach cyclists, like myself, to capitalize on the strength of their legs, becoming technically efficient and building up the muscle groups that have been neglected/underused. Rowing with Ergatta has definitely helped me become a much stronger cyclist in addition to a more well-rounded athlete!
Fun Fact – In the last three UCI Esports World Championships, there is a guy who has won gold, silver and bronze. Guess what? He’s a former Olympic medalist in rowing, and now rides for a top UCI Professional team!
WHAT LED YOU TO CHOOSE INDOOR ROWING VS. INDOOR CYCLING?
–I really enjoy the efficiency of indoor rowing. I can have a productive rowing workout in just 20 minutes! The added bonus is that the setup time for rowing with Ergatta is minimal (under 5 minutes), especially when compared to using the rollers or a turbotrainer. For me, it’s as easy as grabbing a water bottle and towel, turning on a fan, picking a workout on the Ergatta, and go!
More importantly, it’s fun to do something different. You can spend thousands of dollars on an incredible indoor cycling setup, but it will never be the same as being out on the road. I really enjoy the variety that Ergatta offers, and rowing will do a lot more towards enhancing my overall fitness!
WHAT DOES YOUR STANDARD TRAINING ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
– In the six years I’ve been rowing, I went from a million meters a year to over three million. To put this in perspective, I still spend more time on the bike, but not by much. On average, I row for at least an hour at a time, three to five days a week. I choose my exercise programs based on either what I just did on the bike, or what I’m planning to do. Mondays are generally recovery-based, and the intensity builds throughout the week with a mix of endurance, intervals and races. The workout options on the Ergatta platform are virtually limitless. I have learned that if I have a 6+ hour ride planned for Saturday, I absolutely must myself dial back on my Friday row.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU DISCOVERED SINCE STARTING TO ROW WITH ERGATTA THAT YOU WEREN'T INITIALLY EXPECTING?
–I knew rowing would be great for overall fitness, but I didn’t realize how it would help develop insane amounts of sustained “Power”. You might not even notice it at first, but your cycling buddies certainly will after a few weeks of incorporating rowing to your regimen, as they give everything they have just to stay on your wheel.
The ability to do long and sustained intervals on a rowing machine is so much easier than on the road, and in my opinion much more fun than in Watopia! Take the standard 2000m race for instance; that is a solid 8 minute interval at a pretty substantial pace for most, with 15-20% in the anaerobic zone. When you can finish a 2K in under seven minutes, you are pushing 300+ watts the whole time. But why stop there? Try a 5K or 10K at sustained power. Rowing will enhance your power-to-weight-ratio!
I live in Houston, TX where the biggest hill around is a bridge with maybe 50 feet of climbing. This past summer I competed in SBT GRVL that had nearly 10,000 feet of climbing over 142 miles. How did I train for the mountains? Ergatta!
Brian competing in Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL),
one of the handful of pre-eminent gravel races in the world.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ERGATTA FEATURES?
–Ergatta is packed with features, so it’s hard to say what’s my favorite. The software learns your abilities through a calibration process and ranks you in a “Class”. Workout (intensity) zones are then customized for you personally, and you can only progress through the ranks with lots of sweat and hard work!
I also appreciate how responsive the system is to very minor changes in power. When you apply power while racing or completing an interval, there is no lag, as the output changes instantaneously. Why is this important for me? When I am racing my Rivals and the top five are all within a fraction of a second at the finish line, it absolutely makes a difference! (Just a reminder: There is no drafting or PowerUps” in Ergatta!)
One of the latest features Ergatta introduced is the ability to pair with smart watches that broadcast HRM data, so no more sweaty chest straps to deal with. And if you are a data junkie, your workout stats are saved in the app, but can also sync to Strava!
Read about Brian’s full cross-training journey, from discovery to results, on his blog RowStraps.
Hickey, G. L., Franks, I. M., & McDonald, W. A. (2009). Muscle activation during ergometer and on-water rowing. Journal of Human Kinetics, 22, 47-56.
Maddison, R., Mhurchu, C. N., Jiang, Y., Vander Hoorn, S., Rodgers, A., & Lawes, C. M. (2010). Energy expended playing video console games: an opportunity to increase children's physical activity? Pediatric Exercise Science, 22(4), 647-656.
Ziemann, E., Grzywacz, T., Luszczyk, M., & Laskowski, R. (2011). Affective and physiological responses to cycling and rowing exercises at varied intensities. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 10(2), 307-312.
This is the first time I have found a workout that I love and cannot do without. Down 11 pounds in one month with zero change in diet (other than being more conscience of calories). I’m 59 and this is my workout future.
Owned it for about three months and have loved every day that I use it. The rower feels very natural and really works your body when you get into it! Highly recommend to anyone with the means and looking for an excellent home workout!