Hi friends! My name is Petra, and if you’ve been longing for those bulky biceps you see on TV and online, you may think that you need to lift weights for hours, but that isn’t necessarily true.
One look at the Olympic or national rowing teams will show you what rowing can do for your upper body!
I know that some ladies want toned arms, not necessarily bulky arms, and guess what? A rowing machine can give you that as well!
Are you into Crossfit? You might wonder why they included rowing, but that’s another story.
Give me a few minutes, and I will explain how rowing works the arms and why it’s your best choice when it comes to building muscle.
If You’re Short on Time
Here’s a quick rundown for those who may not have time to read the article in depth:
- Rowing is a terrific workout for the upper body and arm muscles.
- You can build new muscle simply by rowing.
- Using a rowing machine will both tone the muscles you have and give you larger muscles than you ever thought possible.
- It’s similar to weight lifting, and it does have its limits, but for most, a rowing machine gives you terrific biceps.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Does Rowing Grow Your Biceps?
In a word, yes! Rowing grows your biceps.
To be honest, rowing or using a rowing machine will build muscle all over your body, not just your biceps, but for today’s article, I will be focusing on those “guns”.
Watch someone row or use a rowing machine and you will quickly see how rowing uses all the major muscle groups, including the arm and shoulder muscles, not just lower body muscles like running or stair climbing does.
You might think that rowing works just the arms, but it’s actually 60 percent leg work. Don’t let that number fool you, just a few minutes of rowing and your arm muscles will get a super workout.
Rowing works all the major muscle groups of the body, both upper and lower body, which makes it one of the best pieces of exercise equipment ever, but for muscular arms, you really can’t beat rowing.
Can You Get Big Biceps from Rowing?
Let me spell it out:
Does rowing build biceps? Yes!
Does rowing give you huge, Arnold Schwarzenegger biceps? No.
I suppose it would depend on your definition of “big biceps”. How big is big?
You can get some pure-muscle biceps when you use a rowing machine on a regular basis. However, if you want BIG, BIG biceps, you will probably want to add some weight lifting to your workouts.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get some awesome arm muscles using rowing machines, but if a bodybuilder physique is what you have in mind, add a good weight-lifting routine to your exercise program.
Can You Use a Rowing Machine for Bicep Curls?
You bet you can!
A rowing machine gives you a full-body workout, even working those important core muscles and calf muscles. Yet, I know many people who use their rowing machine for other types of exercise, including using only the handlebar to do bicep curls.
To do bicep curls, sit or stand and hold the handle underhand. Pull the handle towards your chest slowly. Hold for a second, then slowly let the handle return to the start position.
You can also pull the handle under your chin if you think you are really ready to rumble!
You can also kneel on the seat, facing the rear of your rowing machine, and do pushups or planks if you want some added arm workouts.
There seems to be no limit to what rowing machines can do if you want to gain muscle!
My Top 5 Tips for Building Biceps
If your plan is to have bigger arms or bigger arm and shoulder muscles from working out on your indoor rower, follow these 5 tips for fast results:
- Increase the resistance level every week – If your rowing machine has resistance settings, be sure to apply weekly increments. You don’t have to double the resistance, but those small increases will help you reach your goal faster.
- Spend at least 5 minutes doing curls as you row – This takes a bit of practice to get the hang of, but once you do, you’ll be shocked at how easy it is to get in some bicep workouts without the need to get off the rowing machine.
- Add bicep curls to your workouts – If you are also doing strength training, you can still use the rowing machine on your “off” days. Adding some rowing bicep curls as you row will push fresh blood into the muscles, giving them the nutrients and oxygen those arm muscles need to grow bigger.
- Add 2-3 days of rowing to help with your flabby arms – Ladies, if you’ve started seeing those dreaded “bat wings” on your underarms, rowing is the perfect way to lose the extra fat that may be in that area, as well as increase both bicep and tricep muscles. You need cardio to burn the fat and resistance training for muscle growth so be sure to add at least two or three days of rowing machine workouts to your exercise routine.
- Do HIIT workouts – I recommend doing HIIT workout programs for a minimum of 30 minutes and at least three days per week to get the fastest results and have an upper body you can be proud of.
Depending on the intensity, frequency, and duration of your workouts, you should start seeing results in 3-6 weeks.
Measure your biceps before you start your exercise program and then again every 4 weeks. Get ready to be shocked!
Top Tips for Beginners
Beginners often look at those rowing machine videos online and think, “That’s impossible for someone like me.”
Trust me when I tell you that it isn’t impossible! Want to know why I am so certain? Because everyone was a beginner at one time.
I’ve seen very overweight, middle-aged housewives who had not done real exercise in decades completely transform their bodies in a matter of months.
If you’ve got the will to put in the effort, I guarantee that you can and will get results!
My best tips for beginners are:
- Be patient and give yourself time. Don’t give up after 3 weeks because you’re tired or you just don’t see the benefits. You didn’t get in poor shape in 3 weeks so give yourself time. Be gentle with your self-talk. ANY progress is better than NO progress.
- Start off slowly. Don’t try to do 45 minutes your second time on the rowing machine! You probably won’t be able to finish and you’ll want to quit. I often recommend that beginners start off with 5 minutes. Trust me, you’ll be exhausted, but that’s OK. Add one minute per week until you hit that 10-minute mark. By now, you will be ready to jump to 15 minutes. Now add 5 minutes per week.
- Remember form over speed. You’ll only end up with a sore back if you don’t get the rowing stroke down correctly. Speed will come with time.
- Do pick drills! This is the best way to not only learn how to do the strokes correctly but also build muscle with very little effort. Check out our own pick drills in this video below, or you can read Laura’s article on indoor rowing drills and workouts for beginners here. I love pick drills for warm-ups since it works all the muscles of the body, and nothing can beat it when it comes to teaching you the proper way to row.
Watch Certified Rowing Trainer Laura Tanely Demonstrate the Rowing Pick Drill:
Fat burning comes from cardiovascular fitness, doing a high-intensity workout on a regular basis, and muscular arms will come from the rowing motion.
Does Rowing Get You Jacked?
Well, I may not use that word, but yes, you can get really buff using indoor rowing machines.
We all know that cardiovascular exercise or aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to burn fat. Rowing is a full-body workout that you can’t find on just about any other type of exercise machine.
Yes, there are ellipticals, but ellipticals are weight-bearing, which can be hard on the joints. Rowing machines not only give you that total body workout, but they are virtually zero impact!
A rowing machine works not only your upper body muscles, but those important core muscles, skeletal muscles, and the lower body as well. Every time you sit on the machine to exercise, you are working all the muscle groups you probably never knew you had!
By by working around 86 percent of the muscles in your body with indoor rowing, you are guaranteed to dissolve fat and gain muscle that is pretty impressive to look at.
Add a good weight-lifting routine if you want bigger muscles, and you are going to have ripped arms, a tight tush, lean legs, and impressive abdominal muscles.
The Bottom Line Rowing and Biceps
If you want an upper body to be proud of, if you want to remove your shirt with confidence, if you want a body that can tackle just about any job, then you want an indoor rowing machine.
Rowing strengthens the entire body, and if you add weight lifting to your normal workout routine, you’ll quickly discover what I’m talking about!
Eat a balanced diet, add HIIT rowing workouts, and if you like, a few strength training sessions each week, and you’ll have guns that you will look forward to showing off.
Stay fit, have fun, and have a good workout, everyone!
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.