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

Is a Rowing Machine a Good Workout?

is rowing a good home workout

In a word, yes. People everywhere are ditching their spin classes or deserting their treadmills and lining up to buy a rowing machine for their home or to use the one at the gym. The rowing machine, so often overlooked in the past by those working out at the gym, actually offers one of the best workouts available out of all the fancy machines offered at the gym.

In fact, a rower may actually give you the best workout there is. The following article goes over the reasons why a rowing machine gives you such a good workout and why you might want to invest in one for your home (or stop ignoring it when you go to the gym—or in the corner of your room at home). Read on to find out more.

The efficiency of the Workout

The Catch by Laura Tanley

Laura Tanley Concept 2 ERG Catch Position

A rowing machine provides what may be one of the most efficient exercises in existence. In fact, with every stroke on a rowing machine, you use every single part of your body. The only other exercise we can think of that uses every muscle group in your body is swimming, but you don’t do that with a machine, and it’s a little difficult to put a swimming pool in your living room or den.

Is Rowing a Good Core Workout?

So, in terms of exercise machines, a rowing machine tops the list in terms of the efficiency of the workout you are getting. Contrary to popular belief, rowing is not all about the arms. Of course, your arms get a workout, but every other major muscle group in your body gets a workout as well. Actually, rowing is an excellent workout for your legs as well as your core, and it will improve your core strength drastically and potentially allow you to give up doing sit-ups. A rowing machine allows you to target your core, your back, your stomach, your glutes, your legs, and your arms all at once. What could be better than that?

Watch Max Secunda (Expert Rowing Coach) Show A Simple Trick To Tone Your Glutes While Rowing:


Is a Rowing Machine Good for You?

This makes a rowing machine a much better and more well-rounded choice of an exercise machine than, say, an exercise bike (in which approximately 95 percent of the workout focuses on your legs and only 5 percent on your upper body) or a treadmill (which, let’s face it, is sometimes pretty boring and can make you feel like a hamster running on a wheel). Rowing, on the other hand, should be about 40 percent upper body and 60 percent legs. So your legs will look fantastic and toned—as will the rest of your body. Like we mentioned earlier: rowing is not all about the arms.

Click to Read: Which Burns Fat Faster – Rowing Machine or Treadmill?

Is Rowing the Best Full Body Workout?

Exercise physiologists agree that a rowing machine is a full-body workout that elevates your heart rate and serves to maintain that elevation over the of your exercise session. This gives rowing all the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. But using a rowing machine also entails strength training, since you are doing what is essentially one leg press after another and one row after another.

Watch Our Video Below by Max Secunda Demonstrating Muscles Used While Rowing:


Also, a rowing machine can be used for a steady cardio workout or a high-intensity interval training workout. These varied workouts and intensities are extremely beneficial in promoting your calorie burn rate. You can try rowing several miles at a somewhat lower intensity to build up your cardiovascular system, endurance, and aerobic capacity, and then you can continue with bursts of high-intensity interval training.

Is it Safe to Row When Pregnant? Find Out Here!

Resistance in Two Opposing Directions


TEETER POWER10 – Elliptical Rower

According to exercise physiologists, rowing serves to burn two or three times the number of calories that spinning does, because spinning offers resistance to your body in only one direction, while rowing offers resistance to your body in two opposing directions, backward and forward. This strengthens the rower significantly and serves to increase the calorie-burning rate of the rower. In fact, one particular rowing workout burns up to eight hundred calories every hour!

Rowing Improves Your Posture

Many of us sit at a desk all day hunched over a computer. As a result, we may have chronically bad posture, which can cause all sorts of problems, like back pain, neck pain, and neck strain. Using a rowing machine serves to utilize all the muscles in the back and awaken them, producing a better posture and a stronger back and neck. Rowing can help you reverse the years of damage to your spine, your back muscles, and your neck muscles that you may have suffered as a result of being a desk worker.

Rowing Offers Intensity Free from Injury

If you ramp up the intensity on, say, a treadmill, you may end up doing a lot of damage to your knees and ankles. But for a rowing machine, you can safely work out at as high of intensity as you want without the severe impact on your body. Rowing is an exceedingly low impact exercise that also offers a great deal of intensity and resistance (in both directions—let’s not forget that). So yes, spinning might also be a low impact exercise in the sense that your knees and ankles aren’t pounding the pavement (or the treadmill), but spinning lacks the two-directional resistance that is offered by a rowing machine.

Basically, it is pretty difficult to hurt yourself while you are sitting down on a rowing machine, no matter how intense of a workout you choose to perform. And the fact that you can target so many muscle groups in your body with a high-intensity workout with resistance in multiple directions while experiencing the lowest amount of impact possible is clearly a win for rowing machines.

Higher Frequency of Training

Max Secunda Finish Phase Hydrow Rowing Machine

Max Secunda on the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Because rowing is such a low impact exercise, you can perform it several times a week without any issues. You will, therefore, be able to elevate your heart rate and burn a significant number of calories more times every week without feeling so sore. Essentially, you can use a rowing machine several times a week (four or maybe even five) without ever getting the horrible jelly leg sensation you get after doing, for instance, squats.

Discover How to Use a Rowing Machine Properly from our Expert Rower Rachael Taylor:


The Customizability of Your Workout

The settings of the rowing machine can be adjusted to suit your ability and your needs. If you are a beginner, you can start with a lower intensity and build up your strength. Soon, you will be able to handle higher intensity workouts at a higher resistance. And if you are a more seasoned athlete, you can start right away with the highest resistance level to perform your high-intensity interval training. Honestly, you can do whatever you want and need to do for your body to look and feel at its best.

Are You A Beginner? See My Top Machines for Less Than $400!

Track Your Improvement and Progress


The Ergatta Water Rower

If you are one who is motivated by numbers, a rowing machine will provide you with tracking in real time of various exercise metrics. You may think you look better (and you may feel better) but sometimes, we need some hard data to confirm our subjective feelings. A rowing machine with its distance tracking (check out our rowing machine distance calculator )and other measurements can allow you to see how much you have improved over time and quantify how you are getting fitter and fitter.

Slacking off Is Impossible

If you are spinning on an exercise bike and you are feeling a bit lazy, you might subtly turn the resistance down slightly (or all the way down) and keep pedaling with no resistance (without your spin instructor ever noticing). No such luck with a rowing machine. If you stop rowing, your instructor will notice pretty quickly, because the machine will just stop. It only moves when you move. The rowing machine does not work on momentum; you have to be working out for the entire time (not like on an exercise bike).

It Doesn’t Take That Long

man using Ergatta Wooden Water Rower

Believe it or not, if you don’t have very much time, you can get an excellent rowing workout in just 15 minutes. But you will have to use at least 80 percent of your usual maximum intensity to get results in terms of fat burning. But the point is, you can still get in a good workout even if you have only a quarter of an hour.

Is Rowing a Good Workout to Lose Weight?

muscles used in workout

The result of a more efficient, more thorough, more well-rounded, more challenging workout with greater resistance in multiple directions is, as you might have already guessed, a better-looking body.

If you are looking to lose weight, using a rowing machine will get you there that much faster. You can spin your life away without getting the incredible weight loss results that a rowing machine will get you.

If you are looking to get toned and shredded, a rowing machine will supply the thorough, well-rounded workout you need to get the perfect body.

Practical for Your Home


Several models of rowing machines take up barely any space at all, making them an excellent addition to your fitness regimen if you happen to live in a small apartment with limited floor space. So you have no excuse, essentially. What are you waiting for? Pick up a rowing machine today! Or stop ignoring the one at the gym! A better, stronger body is yours for the taking.


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  1. Pingback: Does a Rowing Machine Build Muscle Fast? | Rowing Crazy

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