Are Rowing Machines Good for Your Workout?

A rowing machine is a great addition to any workout routine. They are low impact, so they are good for people with joint problems. Rowing machines also give a full body workout.


Rowing machines offer a full-body workout that can have major benefits for your physical health. In addition to being a low-impact exercise, utilizing a rowing machine helps strengthen and tone both the upper and lower body, increases cardiovascular endurance and provides an outlet for relieving tension or stress. Rowers are also beneficial for improving flexibility and coordination as well as lowering blood pressure. However, there are some risks associated with rowing machine use that should be taken into consideration before you take to the water. Therefore, it is important to weigh the pros and cons in order to determine if this type of workout is right for you.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines can be a great addition to any fitness routine. Using a rowing machine can help you build up strength, endurance and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Rowing can also be a low-impact exercise, which is beneficial for people with joint pain. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of using a rowing machine for your workout.

Low Impact Exercise

Rowing machines are great for people who are looking for low- to no-impact cardio. If you struggle with impact-related pain or injury, this type of exercise can be an excellent way to get your workout in while helping to prevent further damage to your joints. On a rowing machine, all the movements are powered by your muscles so that you avoid placing stress on the bones and ligaments that can cause problems with joint aches and pains.

In addition to being low impact, rowing machines offer users a full body workout with both upper and lower body exercises. Every stroke requires coordination between your arms, legs, core and back which helps provide balance throughout the muscles in each area. Various levels of resistance will challenge different muscle groups at varying levels for proper toning of the arm, shoulder, back and leg muscles. The use of pulleys also provides a smooth action that won’t jar or jolt joints like traditional cardio equipment can do.

Lastly, rowing machines provide an aerobic workout without feeling overworked or tired afterwards due to using more diverse muscle groups than other types of cardio equipment might entail. Therefore it makes for a great way to burn calories quickly while still providing a demanding muscle strength training session at the same time.

Full Body Workout

Rowing machines are unique because they offer an incredibly effective full-body workout. Rowing machines engage major muscle groups including the latissimus dorsi (the large muscles responsible for power in the back, shoulders and arms), your abdominals and leg muscles. The leg muscles involved in using a rowing machine are your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. If you also incorporate upper body strength movements during your rowing session, such as bicep curls or shoulder presses, then you can focus on even more muscles for a comprehensive workout. Due to its versatility and its target of major muscle groups, it’s often considered a low-impact form of cardiovascular exercise.

Using a rowing machine will also build core strength. An engaged core helps to create resistance when propelling the handle of the machine away from the body and powerfully retracting it back towards the body in one smooth motion. This process engages your abs and stabilizer muscles located along your spine in order to maintain control over balance and generate added speed and power throughout each stroke. All of this action requires use of both upper body strength training exercises as well as lower body aerobic exercises, allowing for both physical endurance building and muscle toning while using one piece of equipment.

Improved Calorie Burn

Rowing machines provide a full body workout and can easily increase caloric expenditure. Rowing utilizes both the large muscle groups of the upper and lower body, resulting in a higher calorie burn than is typical with other forms of cardio equipment. A combination of the pushing that comes from pushing off the footpads, as well as pulling from your arms, makes rowing machines extremely efficient at burning calories in less time than other cardio exercises.

The intensity of your workout can be increased or decreased depending on your level of conditioning. Beginners may find that even a moderate pace ensures calorie burn, while more experienced rowers may look to more intense levels to increase calorie expenditure further. Studies have shown that a 30-minute session on the rowing machine will torch around 300-400 calories per session, depending on intensity and weight. Additionally, working out on a rowing machine can trigger “afterburn”; this is when the body continues to expend energy post workout over an extended period of time due to an elevated metabolism rate caused by high intensity workouts.

Types of Rowing Machines

There are several different types of rowing machines available on the market today. Each type will provide a slightly different workout than the next. Understanding the difference between the types of rowing machines and how they interact with your body will help you decide which one is right for your workout. Let’s take a look at the most popular types of rowing machines and what they can do for you.

Air Resistance

Air resistance machines are one of the most common types of rowing machines, and as their name implies, they provide resistance using a large metal fan instead of water, mimicking the feeling of actually rowing in a boat. Air resistance rowing machines are powered by your own efforts, meaning that the harder you pull on the handle with each stroke, the more air is released into the metal fan and generates even more resistance. As such, these machines tend to be among the most challenging types to use and can provide you with an intense workout.

Water Resistance

Water resistance rowing machines provide a realistic rowing experience and typically feature an adjustable-resistance mechanism. Resistance in a water rower is generated by filling the tank to create drag with water, and then oaring through it. The beneficial aspects of this design are that if you row hard, there’s plenty of resistance to challenge you; if you row more softly, the level of resistance easily decreases. Water resistance rowing machines tend to be on the larger side and may require more storage space than some other types of rowing machines. However, strong steel frames make them one of the most durable options available.

Some features included on these machines might include: variable intensity settings, adjustable straps to make sure hands stay in place during your workout, adjustable footrests to create a custom fit for different foot sizes and an LCD monitor that displays data such as stroke rate, duration, distance traveled, calories burned and other details related to your progress while you exercise. Water resistance rowing machines can be an excellent choice for those who enjoy a realistic rowing experience at home or in the gym.

Magnetic Resistance

When looking to invest in a rowing machine, you may come across devices that use electromagnetic or “magnetic” resistance. The resistance is generated by an adjustable knob which controls the speed of the flywheel, the part of the rower that creates momentum. Magnetic rowers typically have a braking system composed of two magnets and offer a smooth, quiet operation. These magnetically braked machines are very popular because they simulate real rowing.

The advantages of magnetic resistance machines include:
-Low noise levels
-Ability to provide more challenging levels of resistance for stronger users
-They offer greater control over how much resistance you want
-Ability to increase gradient and decrease gradient with ease
-No slipping on drive stroke when working at high intensity levels
–Moderate price point compared to the higher end water and air rowing machines

Tips for Using a Rowing Machine

Working out on a rowing machine can be a great way to get in shape, build strength, and improve your cardiovascular health. When using the machine correctly, you can get a full-body workout and challenge yourself in a variety of ways. However, it can be easy to make some mistakes while using the machine if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this article, we’ll go over some tips that can help you get the most out of your rowing machine workout.

Set the Right Resistance

Before beginning your exercise session, you must set the rowing machine to the appropriate resistance level. This is important because it will help you get the most benefit from your workout. The main way to control resistance on a rowing machine is by changing the damper setting. This setting alters the amount of airflow in the flywheel. The higher the number, the greater the resistance will be when you pull on the handle, while a lower number means less resistance and faster speeds.

It is recommended to start with a low damper setting and increase it as your muscles gain strength and endurance; however, any good rowing program should include “bursts” or intervals of high-intensity efforts that require more power than lower-intensity sessions. Experienced rowers may find that higher damper settings are manageable if their form is correct and they focus on pushing mainly with their legs rather than their arms. It’s also important to remember that rowing always involves tension from multiple muscles groups at once, so whatever level of resistance you choose should challenge all muscle groups evenly.

Start with a Warm Up

Starting your rowing machine workout with a warm-up is an important first step. A good warm up should get your heart rate up gradually over the course of 5 – 10 minutes. As you begin your warm-up, it’s also important to do some dynamic stretching and loosening exercises to prepare your body for physical activity. Some great stretches to do before a rowing machine workout are knee hugs, ankle circles and arm circles. This type of stretching allows the joints and muscles to become pliable, ready for the specific motion of rowing.

Once you’ve completed your warm-up and dynamic stretching, you’re ready to start using the rowing machine for exercise. It is generally recommended that when starting out with a new exercise program you should take it slow and session can be adjusted as needed as fitness levels increase. Most people don’t need excessive intensity when first starting out—we strongly recommend taking it easy at first and then increasing resistance as necessary over time. Starting too hard could cause burnout or possible injury from overexertion.

Keep Your Back Straight

One of the most important tips to remember when using a rowing machine is to keep your back straight at all times. Your lower back should remain in its neutral position, and you should never round your spine for any reason. Improper form can cause damage to your lumbar spine, so use proper posture and work those core muscles to help stabilize your body during exercises. Additionally, ensure that the rowing handle is at shoulder height when initiating each stroke so you don’t have to lean too far forward or backward as you row. When beginning a workout on a rowing machine, it’s important to also take into account factors such as seat height, length of the foot strap and handle height in order to get the right fit for your body type. This will help you maximize performance and efficiency while minimizing risk of injury. Lastly, take care not to grip the handle too tightly while completing your strokes – this will minimize fatigue in the arms while enabling uninterrupted movement through each stroke.


In conclusion, rowing machines are good tools for strengthening and toning upper body and lower body muscles while providing aerobic exercise. They offer a full-body workout but also target specific muscles more than others. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants to target multiple muscle groups to increase strength, build endurance, lose weight or increase performance. The low impact nature of rowing machines makes them a good choice for those with joint problems. If you’re looking for an efficient solution to improve your overall fitness level and mental wellbeing, consider adding a rowing machine to your home gym or health club.

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