Using a rowing machine is a great way to get some exercise in during the day, but does it engage all your muscles, specifically your legs?
Anyone who has used a rowing machine before know that you will definitely feel it in your shoulders and arms the next day, but what about your legs? Are they getting a fair and equivalent workout too?
To answer this question quickly, yes! Working out on a rowing machine does work your legs.
Rowing machines are widely accepted as one of the best full-body workout machines available today! A rower works around 90% of your body, making it a complete exercise machine.
Muscle Groups Targeted by Rowing
When you use a rower, the sliding seat forces your leg muscles to engage to push off of the footboards, which makes your legs work. Your arms, of course, are engaged by pulling on the handles, and your core and back muscles are engaged to pull the handles and maintain your balance and position.
The muscles that strengthen your joints all over your body are also worked, so your balance and joint health are improved.
If you are interested to know the muscles that are engaged during a rowing workout in the lower body, they are the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. In the upper body, your biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pectoral muscles are worked.
In the core and lower back the lats, traps, rhomboids, obliques, and abdominals are all strengthened.
Since rowing is a fully engaged workout, your body might experience some changes in weight. This could be weight loss, seen in the loss of fat, or weight gain in the form of muscle groups growing and creating more mass as they are exercised.
You can lose weight using home rowers, but you should also expect to see some growth of muscle in place of the fat that is lost. Make sure that you are exercising a healthy amount and not pushing your body too far. Talk to your health care provider to make sure that they agree that rowing is a good exercise for you!
Now you might be wondering if using a rower is the best option for a complete body or leg workout, so let’s discuss and compare the leg workout that you get from a home rower to other activities, and learn about the benefits of using a rowing machine to workout your legs!
Watch Our Youtube Video by Expert Rower Max Secunda on How Rowing Works Your Legs & His Simple Rowing Machine Workout:
Is Rowing Better Than Running?
This is a very common question when it comes to comparing the effects of rowing to other activities, such as running. Running is a great way to get your heart rate up and get your body fit, but it can feel boring and repetitive for lots of people who can seem to make it into that meditative state that die-hard runners love.
Running is a high impact activity, while rowing is a low impact exercise.
Now, what does that mean?
It means that rowers can put your body through less strain and intensity during the exercise. Running is high impact because it puts a strain on the joints, like the hips, knees, and ankles. This can be painful to some and can prevent you from exercising consistently if you are in pain when you run.
Rowing is lower impact activity, meaning that it does not stress out the joints as much as other activities and workouts do, like running. Lower impact activities usually help people prevent injuries in their joints, which makes it easier to consistently do the exercise.
The benefits of rowing on your joints is great for people who have joint problems because it is way more gentle than running or intense activities that can cause damage to joints and connective tissue that is already in a fragile state. Older people and folks who simply do not like running find rowing a fantastic alternative to the “classic” of running.
Many people who row agree that it is better than running simply because it works the whole body, is less forceful on the body, and quite honestly, less boring. (Side Note : check out our full article is rowing better than running) This is not to say that running is not a great exercise, it is, but running is not perfect for everyone. People who have breathing problems or want a complete workout in one activity prefer the ease and convenience of rowing overrunning.
Besides, running in colder climates or winter can be unhealthy because the cold air surrounding your body can hurt your immune system. This happens because the heat generated by your body and the cold air around you confuse and conflict your blood vessels. They do not know whether they should contract and store heat because it is cold out, or if they should dilate to allow heat to escape the body.
This can slow your body’s response to unwelcome invaders, like viruses and bad bacteria, causing you to get sick easier.
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Can You Get in Shape by Just Rowing?
This is another frequently asked question and the answer is yes.
With consistent and habitual use, home rowers can get your whole body into shape because it works and strengthens so many different muscle groups. Of course, many people supplement rowing with other exercises to keep things fresh, but if you find that rowing is your activity of choice, you will most likely feel the effects all over your body.
This is another reason why people find this exercise so attractive. It is one exercise that tackles all the different sections of the body in one shot. It is easy, convenient, and effective.
Unlike other activities, like running, your back is also worked, so if you suffered from back pain or poor posture, rowing can help to enforce the muscles around the spine and shoulder blades, which can bring more blood flow into your back, helping to reduce pain and inflammation. Over time, you may notice your posture getting better as well.
If you plan on using rowing as your way of getting in shape, you should also know that getting in shape and getting toned is not solely based on exercise. You need to make sure that you are eating well, getting enough sleep, drinking 8 cups (or more) of water each day, and setting aside time to check in with your body and mental health.
Is a Rowing Machine Good for Toning Legs?
Because of the complete body workout that rowing provides, you can expect your legs to get more toned over time. Your arms and core can also get more toned over time with consistent and habitual rowing.
You probably will not see the same muscle growth as weight lifting or power squatting, but if you are not trying to build massive muscle mass in your legs, you can expect the muscles to become more shapely and defined.
Most people who pick up rowing as an activity or as a way to tone their bodies find that they see more definition and clarity in the form and size of their leg muscles. This is, of course, seen over time and with patterned use of a rowing machine.
Just like any other form of exercise, you can’t do one session of rowing and see instant results, but if you are persistent and make it a part of your life, you will see toned muscles and definition.
People who are not into bodybuilding and huge muscles love rowing because it does not bulk up the muscles, it just makes them more noticeable and toned, which is the goal of exercise for most users.
Total Body Toning
Overall, people find rowing machines a fantastic way to see healthy muscle growth while toning and tightening the muscles all over the body. It is a great activity for older people, people who are not interested in doing 20 different kinds of workouts to get full-body results, and folks who just want to do something while they watch T.V.
We highly suggest that you take a look at rowing and what it can do for your body! However, as with any major lifestyle change, you should definitely talk to your doctor or personal trainer to make sure that rowing is right for you.
Just as I said earlier, what is great for others is not always great for your body and lifestyle. Instead of making a positive impact on your life and body, you could be causing harm and making your life harder, so it is critical to give your doctor a call and check to make sure they support your choice of getting on a rowing machine.
Make sure that you set aside time to stretch before and after your rowing workout and allow time for warm-up and cool-down during your exercise.
Enjoy your rowing experience and all the positive benefits that come with it!
Written by Petra Amara – RowingCrazy.com
CEO & Founder of RowingCrazy, National Rower, Coxswain Womens Eight Team, Rowing Coach & Writer
Petra is a Mother of two and owner of Rowingcrazy.com. Petra lives and breathes rowing, she also has a passion for writing which lead her to start RowingCrazy.com to share her rowing experience and expertise with others.