Rowing Crazy


“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing
We Actually Row!”

“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing – We Actually Row!”

Does Rowing Build Chest Muscles?

man rowing building up chest muscles

I could almost hear you.

  • I have a flabby chest that I would like to firm up. Will rowing help me do that?
  • Why is my chest undefined (or uneven), will rowing help me shape it up?
  • Does rowing tone your chest?
  • Can rowing help me develop well-defined chest muscles?

Now my short answer to all those questions is ‘YES!

My not-so-short answer is ‘Yes if you do it right and with the right equipment.’

As for my long answer, you will find it below.

But before you get excited, you need to understand what a rowing machine does to your chest and how it helps attain those goals. Also, building your chest shouldn’t be an isolated regimen. It should only be a part of the bigger picture – the whole YOU! Sounds like a plan?

Perfect! So let’s see how a rowing machine fits in your grander scheme of things!

Is Rowing a Full Body Workout?

To that, again I say ‘YES!’

Rowing is regarded as one of the top workouts because it involves the whole body and is safe for people of various fitness levels.

Which brings us to what rowing does to you in general. Let me tell you about all the amazing things that this low impact and non weight bearing workout can do to your upper and lower body. With an effective indoor rower, you can:

  • gain muscle mass
  • elevate your heart rate
  • do endurance and strength training
  • burn 400-800 calories per hour
  • work out all the major muscles in your body
  • strengthen your core muscles
  • use it for cardio and aerobic exercise
  • lose weight when you use it with the correct routines and right diet

That’s a lot, right? And it only gets better!

How Does It Compare to Running or Treadmill Exercises?

Treadmill or other exercises like running essentially accomplishes only two things – work out your legs and cardiovascular system.

In comparison, you could choose to row and attain all your health goals with one equipment. Initially, you may only want to do aerobic and cardio workouts.

With continued use of your indoor rower and combining it with high-intensity routines and a proper diet, you should not only lose weight and become healthier but also tone your muscle over time.

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Is Exercising with a Rowing Machine Good for the Upper Body?

While rowing seems to emphasize working out your leg and arm muscles, it also engages the upper part of your body. It results not only in cardiovascular and aerobic benefits to your heart and lungs but also improves back posture, burns fat, and tones the upper part of your body.

How Does Rowing Use Chest Muscles?

The rowing motion has you bend your knees (the CATCH), then pull up (the DRIVE) until you are fully extended (the FINISH), and then move back to your first position (RECOVERY). It’s a no-brainer how this repetitive push and pull motion exercises your entire body, strengthens your core, and even supports endurance training.

Take note that the correct rowing stroke benefits the major body muscles, including your arms, shoulder, back, and chest in the drive phase (sub-phase 3) of a stroke.

Our article on ‘What Muscles Does a Rowing Machine Work‘ will give you a better understanding of the muscles that are engaged in each movement or phase in a stroke.

How Does Rowing Affect Your Chest?

If you row at least a couple of times every week, this fat burning exercise will be perfect for shedding off that flab on your chest without any risk to you. And that’s only for starters.

The pull-and-push movement you do when rowing strengthens your shoulder and tones your chest, contributing to a more defined shape.

Is Rowing Good for Building Muscle?

If you row regularly and build up the intensity as you improve, you will burn calories, improve strength, and tone your muscle mass, among the many benefits you will gain.

The resistance levels of the machine is really what sets the tone for how successful your fitness program will be. You’d want to set the rowing machine based on your current fitness level. Too hard of a workout and you might get discouraged from doing it again. Too easy of a workout and you won’t reap all the rewards.

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What Muscles Does Rowing Not Work?

Your overall fitness will be much improved by regularly doing cardio rowing workouts. While you will generally build muscles throughout your body, a few groups will be worked less than others.

You can consider doing extra exercises for your triceps and pecs since those are not worked out real hard with a rowing machine. 

Is Rowing the Best Exercise?

This time, I’ll let you answer this question. But before you do that, here are some points to think about.

  • Only one machine – Imagine getting the same cardiovascular and strength workouts from that one fixture in your home gym versus all the machines at your local gym to separately work out your legs, arms, shoulders, back, and chest.
  • Full body workout -It has a clear advantage over other workouts, thanks to the fact that it involves moving the entire body.
  • Low impact – By doing the strokes and engaging muscles correctly, you actually use more of these muscle groups while taking on less impact than you would with running or using treadmills. In other words, your joints should not ache and creak over time.

You may use an indoor rower once a week or every day, but I recommend that you get into a routine and stick with it, making sure you build rest and recovery days into your schedule.

Now, your turn! Is rowing the best exercise?