Are Rowing Machines Good Exercise?

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are rowers good exercise

If you haven’t figured out by now, I’ve got a real passion for a good indoor rowing workout. I’ve owned a variety of indoor rowing machines, and I can’t recommend this type of exercise highly enough! That’s why I’m not surprised that more and more people are buying indoor rowing machines for their home gyms.

Yes, without a doubt, rowing machines provide good exercise. Some of the benefits of rowing include toned muscles, lower blood pressure, and improved aerobic capacity. In addition to the physical benefits of indoor rowing exercise, it is also a soothing one for the mind.

Everyone wants better mental health, right? I believe many people find, as I do, that the rhythmic rowing stroke combined with the sound of the water, is relaxing. That’s something you can’t say about too many forms of exercise.

Are you considering buying a new piece of gym equipment for your home? Are you wondering whether a rowing machine will give you the same or better type of workout than a treadmill, spin bike, or other types of machine will?

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In today’s article, I want to let you in on all the reasons why a rowing machine is at the top of my list when it comes to getting a great workout.

Want to know how you can blast away fat and calories, all in short workouts from home? Keep reading, because this article is full of surprises!

Are Rowing Machines Effective?

Rowing machine workouts are one of the absolute best, full-body workouts that you can do other than jumping rope.

are rowers good exercise

It’s so low-impact you can even row if you are pregnant! Well, that is until your baby bump gets in the way, but the idea here is that this exercise is so gentle to the joints and knees it’s perfect for everyone! ( Of course, you should speak to your doctor first if you’re new to rowing.)

You don’t have to take my word for it! See what the experts say about using a rowing machine:

These are just a few of the rowing machine benefits that you can expect. If you truly want to start a new fitness routine, work all the major muscle groups, lose weight, and adopt healthy habits, then you can start with an indoor rowing machine!

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Are Rowing Machines Good for Weight Loss?

lady working out at gym to see are rowers good exercise

You bet your paddle they are!

In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you are consuming. Most people try to do a bit of both:cut back on calories and burn extra calories through exercise.

Why choose a rowing machine? Because you will burn calories more than you will on other types of exercise machines that don’t engage even half as many muscles!

Since you will do a rowing workout sitting down, you don’t have to worry even if you’re overweight or suffering from back or joint pain.

Of course, the amount of calories you will burn depends on how much you weigh now, how hard you work out, and your age and gender. This table is for a woman who is 40 years old and weighs 140 lbs. Your results will vary, but this will give you an idea about how many calories rowing can burn:

Common Exercises Average Number of Calories
Burned in 30 Minutes
Rowing (Moderate Effort) 234
Stationary Bicycle
(Average 12MPH)
267
Walking (3.5 MPH) 144
Stair Climbing
(Average Pace)
267
Jogging
(Moderate Pace)
234
Recumbent Elliptical
(Moderate Effort)
200

While some people complain about back pain when doing a rowing workout, this is almost always due to poor form. Be sure that you know how to do the rowing strokes correctly.

If you’re new to rowing, you can learn proper form by taking a class or watch some instructional videos online. Interactive rowing machines often have a teaching program for beginners.

However, exercise isn’t everything, and you can’t out-exercise a poor diet. Be sure that you take care of your fitness needs by eating a balanced diet that is mostly plant-based for the best results.

Remember that you probably didn’t pack on those extra pounds in a couple of weeks, so be patient and give yourself time to drop that excess baggage.

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Are Rowing Machines Good Exercise for the Knees?

rowing machine for tall person

To be completely honest, rowing machines are not just good for the knees, they are terrific!

Of course, everyone is different and if your knees were injured, then you will be happy to know that a rowing machine is low-impact, which means that there is a minimal amount of stress placed on the knees and other joints.

However, if your knees suffer from other issues, you’ll find that in most cases a rowing workout is one of the best and easiest ways to help the knees feel less pain.

As with any joint, the knees are supported by the leg muscles. When the leg muscles are weak, the knees have very little support.

A rowing machine works your leg muscles. This means that a lower body workout will result in stronger leg muscles, which then offer more support for the knees.

If you have injured yourself running or playing a sport, you can still use a rowing machine. As always, check with your medical professional to be certain that rowing is safe for you and your injury.

Good for your knees, easy on the joints, and little to no discomfort for anyone with other types of injuries? Wow! No wonder everyone is turning to rowing for their exercise routine!

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Doesn’t a Rowing Machine Offer a Full-Body Workout?

Oh yes, it certainly does!

Don’t mistake my meaning with the previous paragraph. This type of cardio workout is both an upper body workout and a lower body workout.

The legs will do most of the work, but after just one session you will certainly feel the full-body burn compared to other workouts!

No one who has ever used a rowing machine would say that it’s only for the elderly or for those who can’t do much of a workout!

A spin bike, treadmill, or stair climbers give you zero when it comes to an upper-body workout, which is why so many people are turning away from high-impact exercises that don’t give them what they need.

Once you get on a rowing machine, you will sweat nonstop, and that’s a good thing!

Can You Get in Shape Just with Rowing Machine Workouts?

Yes, you certainly can, but! I do want to point out that most people, including professional rowers, try to mix up their routine and do some other types of aerobic workouts aside from rowing.

Why is that? Because our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for. Over time, your body will become accustomed to doing the same rowing workout week after week. This means that you won’t burn as many calories, and while your muscles will stay toned, they won’t get bigger.

You need to either mix up your aerobic exercise routine, perhaps doing a strength workout twice a week, then rowing the other days, or you can alternate rowing with some other type of aerobic workouts, such as swimming or playing sports. This is called cross-training, and it is extremely effective.

Another alternative is to do HIIT training. By alternating periods of exercise where you sweat like a demon, then alternate with a minute of rest (or simply slowing down), your body will respond with better aerobic capacity, toned legs, and calorie burning.

You can absolutely get everything you need in a rowing workout if you switch things up and do a high-intensity workout regularly.

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Do Rowing Machines Give a Good Workout?

Oh yes! One of the best!

Rowing is one of the top calorie-blasting machines that work nearly every part of your body. OK, maybe your eyelids don’t get a workout, but everything else sure does!

After just a few weeks of rowing, most people find that they have lost weight, and at the same time, the arms, legs, shoulders, and abs have taken on a tighter, more toned look.

People assume that rowing is only good for the legs or the arms, but the benefits of rowing mean that not only are you improving your endurance, but you’re also working your heart and the amount of calories burned, even during short programs, is nothing short of astounding!

No matter what your fitness level is, even if you haven’t exercised in years, you will feel comfortable on a rowing machine.

Beginners will find that, after they gain strength and build a bit of endurance, they have to work harder to increase their heart rate, but that’s what exercise is all about! You don’t want to sit back and do the same old thing day after day! Rowing will always challenge you if you want it to.

Compare treadmills, exercise bikes, stair climbers, or any other type of exercise machine to a rowing machine workout and you will see that the smooth motion of rowing beats nearly all other types of exercise.

Rowing can also work those core muscles. You want to be sure that you’re doing the rowing strokes properly, but once you have that down, you will find that you can control your form at the end of the stroke before recovery, and this control will really work those core muscles!! No more flabby belly for you, regardless of your age!

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What Types of Rowing Machine Workouts Are There?

While you can do lots of different rowing programs, I have found that nearly all rowing workouts fall into one of two categories.

First, there is high-intensity rowing. As the name implies, this type of workout is the most challenging. These programs last at least 20 minutes, and you will push yourself to your limit, rowing as fast as possible with the most resistance that you can muster.

The second is an endurance-building row. No matter your fitness level or training, you can do an endurance row. This rowing program uses a more sustained motion but over a much longer period of time, such as 45-60 minutes.

High-intensity workouts on an indoor rower really push the muscles to grow bigger and increase your heart rate so that you burn more calories.

Endurance workouts will keep the muscles in shape, no doubt, and this type of workout tends to burn more calories overall.

There is another type of program called High-Intensity Interval Training which tries to combine both of the above so that you get muscle growth, but you burn more calories than either program on its own.

HIIT involves working as hard as possible for a set period of time, say 2 minutes, followed by a “resting” period where you slow down considerably, for 1 minute. You continue to switch back and forth, working hard, then slowing down, over a period of 20-30 minutes.

Doing HIIT workouts reducess blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and overall body fat, not to mention that it improves overall heart health.

Hands down, if you want great exercise in a single machine, get on your indoor rower!

The Bottom Line

If you are interested in a great workout that will tone and build your muscles, improve your stamina and heart health, work your lungs, and literally change your body composition so that you have less body fat and more muscles, then you cannot beat a rowing workout.

If you are looking to buy a rowing machine and you aren’t sure where to start, you might be interested in this article.

Building muscle, burning fat, and shredding calories, isn’t that what everyone is looking for in a workout? You will get all those and more from your indoor rower.

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