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Not sure how to work out on a rowing machine without looking like a total fish out of water? It's easy to make mistakes when using a rower, officially known as an "ergometer," the first couple of times. But you'd be crazy to avoid the machine altogether out of sheer embarrassment. Rowing can burn up to 800 calories an hour and is extremely effective in working your whole body from head to toe. Quads, hamstrings, back, abdominals, arms, shoulders and calves are all used in the rowing stroke. Depending on how you train, you can increase your aerobic fitness or focus on building muscle strength and explosive power.

RELATED: 3 Rowing Machine Cardio Workouts for Strength and Endurance

Rowing's efficiency and effectiveness, plus its reputation for being a low-impact workout for all ages and body types, has made it increasingly popular in gyms and fitness studios across the U.S. CrossFitters are getting on board with rowing, too; numerous boxes incorporate the rower into WODs (Workout of the Day) and there are several CrossFit Games rowing events.

Row Like A Pro: Technique 101

Read more: 6 Rowing Machine Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

The debate is over! Read on to find out what's right for you and how to get the most out of every session!

Workout routine: 20 minutes of cardio machines, lift, abs, repeat.

Sound familiar?

Does the scale read the same number every week?

You're not alone. The jury is in, adding cardio to your weight lifting workout schedule might not just be counter-productive, it could also be taking away from the progress you've already made.

The good news is, we're here to tell you when cardio is a good idea and even how to do it so as not to lose your gains.

Are you ready?

Here Is A Quick Biology Review

Ask any lifter what he or she takes before they train. Undoubtedly it's some kind of mix that contains caffeine and, more often than not, creatine.

Read more: Cardio After Lifting or Before?

The class starts in minutes. You're new at this type of thing. A crowd assembles at the door. Some of them seem to know each other. Wasn't this supposed to be a beginner's class? Why does everyone seem to be talking to each other like they already know what they're doing? Why does everyone have towels that match the color of their Lycra shorts? Why does anyone have a towel at all?

A young boy shows up and says hello to everyone. Oh Good God! It's the instructor. Like sacrificial lemmings, everyone follows him into the room. Shouldn't he still be in school? He looks too young to be in charge of his nighttime routine, let alone instructing a group of people he doesn't know.

You sidle shyly into the room. So that's what an indoor bike looks like! You hadn't been too sure right up to this point. You get on, surprised it doesn't fall over when you mount up.

Of course it doesn't, that's now how it works, it's got feet, you moron!

Read more: Top 34 Indoor Cycling Mistakes (What Are You Doing Wrong?)

If you live in a cold-weather state, you're all-too familiar with how winter can screw up your workouts. Unless you feel like pulling your best Rocky impersonation by working out in Arctic-like conditions, your workouts will be restricted to indoors.

For weight training, this doesn't present too much of a problem. And if you have access to turf, you can still do pretty much everything else indoors.

Otherwise, you're facing a conundrum when you want to do your conditioning work. Your choices are a treadmill, and, if you're lucky, an Airdyne bike.

We're not going to lie. Long treadmill runs suck. Some people love them, and that's fine. But if you're a competitive athlete accustomed to working at a high intensity, long runs on a treadmill will seem pretty boring. And they won't really help you get better at your sport.

Instead, we recommend the following treadmill workouts. They are intense. You will work at a high speed, and the result should be improved conditioning in less time. They are also a good option if you're trying to shed extra weight.

Read more: 7 Treadmill Workouts That Don't Suck

We're huge fans of running. It allows you to get a stress-reducing, endurance-boosting workout with just a pair of shoes and an open road.

It also burns calories, of course. At a 10-minute per mile pace—roughly the average guy's marathon pace—you'll fry about 10 calories a minute.

That's a solid number, and if you run faster, you can burn even more.

But if running isn't your favorite activity, there are plenty of other modes of exercise that can help you torch calories at a lightning fast rate.

Related: 3 Exercises You Should Do Every Day

"In general, you burn more calories by doing high-intensity weight training than you do running," says Harold Gibbons, a trainer at Mark Fisher Fitness in New York City, and the New York State Director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Read more: 10 Exercises That Burn More Calories Than Running

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