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

Will A Rowing Machine Make Me Bulky?

Will A Home Rowing Machine Make Me Bulky

In one simple word, no!  Rowing machines are not designed to build bulk. Therefore, they will not make you bulky.  Indoor rowing is designed to be a cardio exercise that works nearly every muscle in the body, it shouldn’t be confused with weight training which does build muscle.

When I was young, I wanted to be a dancer. Those long, lithe legs, graceful arms, and slender body seemed so perfect to me.

I soon realized that I was not cut out for dancing, but rowing took a center stage in my life. At the time, it never occurred to me that rowing might bulk up my body and make me look like some comic book character.

I’m often surprised when I hear younger people (especially women) say that they don’t want to look like a body-builder, and that rowing will give a woman a muscular appearance.

The truth is that it won’t, but if that’s the case, why do you see such muscular bodies in professional rowing competitions?

In today’s article, I want to tell you the truth about rowing and muscles. Sit for a moment, this won’t take very long.

Will Indoor Rowing Bulk Up My Shoulders?

will rowing make me bulky?

A typical rowing exercise is mainly leg work. Rowing is also a major calorie burner, which means that when you row, you increase your heart rate and burn as much as 900 calories an hour, which again is not how you build bigger, bulkier muscles.

will a rower bulk you up?

To get those bodybuilder’s shoulder muscles, you will need to lift weights on a regular (and continually increasing) basis. Conversely, rowing doesn’t involve ever-increasing loads to push; you’re simply pulling on the handle. This will give you beautifully sculpted, lean-looking shoulder muscles, and not Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles.

Will this Full-Body Workout Bulk Up My Thigh Muscles?

Lady working out on rowing machine in orange exercise leggings

This is another simple one to answer, no.

Like your shoulders, to get those big, muscular thighs, you need to lift heavy weights frequently. Now, this isn’t to say that working your legs on an indoor rowing machine will not give you muscle, it definitely will. The difference here is that working out on an indoor rower will give you real muscle definition.

See Max Secunda Rowing Coach show how rowing helps your legs and shares his easy workout in this YouTube video:


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If you want those super-toned, lean, dancer-like thighs to show off, one way to get those is to row regularly. You will have tight, lifted glutes (that’s your butt, ladies), such beautiful back muscles that guys will go shirtless most of the year, and ladies, you will want to find lots of backless tops and dresses.

So Does Rowing Make You Bulky?

To be clear, no, it won’t.

An indoor rower will provide you a super calorie-burning, full-body exercise that pumps your heart, burns calories like crazy and builds your upper body, abdomen, leg and glute muscles. I bet you won’t get that by running or working out on a treadmill or stairstepper. What’s great is that you will get strong, well-defined muscles, but your body won’t grow much bigger because a rowing machine does not offer the type of increasing resistance that weightlifters use.

Man increasing muscle strength on a indoor rower

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Why Do So Many Rowers Have Such Muscle Mass in Their Legs and Shoulders?

Most professional rowers also include strength training (weightlifting) into their workout. Their workouts can last a few hours nearly every day. They need to increase endurance and some even compete in body building or other types of sporting events. You will not have the same results unless you also incorporate weight lifting into your fitness routine.


Rowing is a full-body workout that will build some muscles, but it also burns calories and fat like crazy, especially around the belly. To bulk up, you will need to add weightlifting to your fitness program.

In short, rowing alone will not turn you into a Hulk. What rowing does is help you develop and tone your muscle mass all over your body so you don’t look out of proportion. And don’t forget, you’ll enjoy countless health benefits from indoor rowers, including burn calories and fats, strengthen the cardiovascular system, maintain a healthy weight, improve your flexibility, and many more. All these, while having a low impact on your joints. Click Here to see more low impact machines!

No treadmill can give you all that, folks, and that’s the truth.

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