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The rower is a powerful piece of lower- and upper-body training equipment. Rowing machines are called ergometers, or ergs for short. An erg is a machine that measures work, and that’s perfect for functional fitness—to gauge your athletic improvement. See also: Row/Rowing (the movement/exercise).

Bang For Your Buck: When you row, you’re working on your cardiovascular endurance (cardio), and also recruiting almost all of the other muscle groups in your body! Your legs, arms, core (and lungs) are all being tested when you’re on the rower. You’ll feel different muscles firing when you’re at the four of the different positions: the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery.

Track Your Fitness: To know if you’re getting fitter, your workouts have to be measurable and repeatable; that’s one of the reasons rowing is important—it accurately tracks your performance. The Performance Monitor (the computer screen you look at when sitting on the machine) isn’t just there to taunt you. It tracks your effort and time—pace, distance, calories, speed, watts, etc. Track important benchmarks like how long it takes you to row 500 meters, how many calories you can row in one minute, or (if you’re feeling very ambitious) your “Marathon Row” time!