Do Rowing Machines Give You a Full Body Workout?

Get the full scoop on whether rowing machines give you a full body workout or not. We’ll break down the science so you can make the best decision for your fitness goals.


Rowing is an incredible full-body workout. A good rowing machine offers a low-impact way to engage your arms, legs, back and core muscles in one comprehensive exercise session. As opposed to traditional gym machines, rowing machines require the use of multiple muscle groups simultaneously – making them one of the best ways to get in shape quickly. They also offer considerable cardiovascular benefits that can help you build a strong heart and increased endurance. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the benefits that rowers offer and how they can improve your overall physical fitness level.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines can be a great addition to your workout routine and provide a great full-body workout. This type of exercise uses all the major muscle groups, including the arms, back, legs, and core, allowing you to gain strength and aerobic benefits at the same time. Aside from that, rowing machines also offer low-impact exercise, which can be ideal for those who have joint or muscle pain. Let’s look at all the benefits of using a rowing machine.

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health is one of the primary benefits of using a rowing machine. As a low-impact aerobic exercise, it is much gentler on joints than most other forms of exercise, yet still provides an effective workout to burn calories and fat quickly. By targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time and allowing body weight to be used as resistance, rowing machines are an efficient way to help improve cardiovascular health. Regular use of a rowing machine can help to reduce blood pressure, strengthen the heart and lungs, increase overall cardiovascular endurance and boost metabolism. Additionally, rowing machines are good for boosting your red blood cell count due to the increased amount of oxygen that is inhaled.

Strengthens Muscles

In addition to targeting your cardiovascular system and cardio-respiratory training, the use of a rowing machine can help improve your muscular strength. When using the rowing machine correctly, you work several large muscle groups including your quads, triceps, biceps, lats (latissimus dorsi), abdominals and core muscles. As with any type of muscular workout you reduce body fat and increase muscle mass. Doing this also increases metabolic rate for weight management.

Rowing machines are designed to be self-regulating to increased intensity as you row harder; therefore the harder you row, the more assistance the machine will give through its electronic control systems. This helps to ensure that muscles are worked evenly on both sides of your body resulting in better overall strength conditioning results by utilizing varying degrees of resistance throughout a workout session. Additionally, it allows for anaerobic benefit resulting in smoother blood flow while improving muscle function overall.

Improves Posture

Rowing machines are a great way to improve posture, as the rhythmic nature of rowing causes the body to learn how to balance itself more effectively. Engaging both arms and legs in unison helps strengthen the central core when done correctly. In addition, engaging in rowing will work muscles contained within the upper back, scapula and shoulder complex that help maintain a natural upright posture. A strong stance when sitting or standing is also known to have several health benefits involving proper breathing, improved digestion, reduced stress levels and improved overall happiness. Furthermore, due to its low-impact nature, less stress is placed on weight-bearing joints like the hip, knee and ankle; which can help reduce chronic pain caused by inflammation or old age.

Types of Rowing Machines

There are many different types of rowing machines available on the market, all of which provide a great full-body workout. Some machines are more basic while others can be more technical and require more effort. Rowing machines can provide a low-impact exercise to help you build strength and muscle, while also providing cardiovascular health benefits. This section will look at the various types of rowing machines available and their differences.

Water Rowing Machines

Water Rowing Machines, like their name suggests, use a water tank to simulate the feeling of rowing on open water. Many consider this type of machine to be the most realistic you can get when it comes to rowing. Water resistance creates a smooth and consistent feedback that allows you to use your whole body while exercising. The heavier the load of water in the tank, the more challenging the row will be.

These machines are quieter than other types but can take up more space due to their larger size. If you’re looking for something with a heavy duty feel – a water rowing machine may be perfect for you! They usually provide sleek and stable designs as well as built in LCD tracking systems that measure wattage, tempo, distance, time and calories burned. Additionally many will have adjustable settings designed for different weights and levels of experience making them great for people looking for a full body workout at home.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowing machines, also sometimes referred to as a flywheel rowing machine, uses a combination of a magnetic resistance system and a fan-based flywheel. This type of rower allows for a smooth and consistent glide while you exercise. Magnetic rowing machines tend to have fewer moving parts than some other types of rowing machines and are often quieter, making them the ideal option for people who live in apartments or condos where sound is an issue.

The tension on these rowers is adjustable so that you can customize your workout for different levels of resistance, allowing you to target specific muscle groups or optimize your cardio routine. Some models also feature advanced technology such as screens or apps that allow you to track performance over time and store data related to how much time has been spent on the machine. With this technology, you can access real-time performance feedback during your workout, helping to maximize results from each session.

Air Rowing Machines

Air rowing machines are among some of the most popular rowing machines used in both commercial and home gyms. The air resistance mechanism is an effective way to get an intense cardiovascular workout, as the tougher you pull, the more resistance you will encounter for an optimal full body workout.

This type of machine works by providing adjustable resistance via a large fan at one end or enclosed inside the machine. A flywheel is attached to a series of pulleys and connected to a set of handles. As you move the handles back and forth, in a motion similar to real-life rowing, your effort will cause the flywheel to spin faster and faster; air resistance within the fan will continually adjust depending on how hard you exert yourself.

More expensive models come with digital monitors and programs that have been created in order to track progress via digital metrics like power output, stroke rate, pace, total meters rowed, calories burned etc., which can prove helpful for those wanting to measure their progress over time. The main disadvantage associated with these types of rowers is that wind resistance can be noisy as well as accompanying vibration present during workouts; however this is generally only affected when using at higher tensions and speeds.

How to Use a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines provide an effective, low-impact aerobic workout that can give your entire body a great workout. Whether you’re looking for something to add to your existing exercise routine, or you’re just getting started with your fitness journey, a rowing machine is a great choice. In this article, we’ll talk about how to use a rowing machine to give you an effective full-body workout.

Adjust the Foot Straps

Before you begin your rowing session on a rowing machine, it’s important to ensure that you have adjusted the foot straps correctly. The foot straps should fit comfortably around your feet, firmly but not too tight, and must be securely fastened so that the strap’s buckle is flat against the side of the machine’s frame. This will enable you to transfer your power and energy up through the chain drive system of the rowing machine by arching at your ankles as you row. Slipping feet can distract from performance and injury your feet, so always double check with each start of a session that the straps are properly secured.

Set the Resistance

When setting the resistance on a rowing machine, it is important to strike a balance that allows you to get the most out of your effort. Typically, the resistance will be adjusted on one of two levels: by electronic controls or with manual adjustments on the handle or footrest.

For manual models, increase or decrease tension by rotating levers located near the handle. For electronic control models, adjust the tension with a knob that may range from 1 to 10. Generally speaking, adjust the tension to a level that gives you enough resistance when moving back and forth—you don’t want it to be too easy for you to move but not so difficult that your muscles tire quickly.

Start slow and work your way up; listen carefully to how your body feels as you exercise. As different types of workouts require different levels of intensity and challenge from your body, adjust accordingly so that you get an effective workout without strain or fatigue. Once you’re comfortable with an appropriate level of resistance for rowing, aim for longer durations at moderate speeds for better results.

Start Rowing

Starting to row on the rowing machine is one of the best full body workouts that you can do. You’ll engage your entire body, strengthening both your upper and lower body and improving your cardiovascular health at the same time. To get started with rowing, here are some tips to get you going.

• Start off slow by familiarizing yourself with the basics. Familiarize yourself with all the components of a rowing machine, including footstretchers and straps as well as handles and monitors, if included.
• Adjust the damper setting on the rower’s wheel or handle until you find a comfortable level — typically between 2 to 5 for beginners — to help regulate how much resistance you’re battling during each stroke.
• Keep your back straight and straighten your legs while pushing away from the wheel or handle during each stroke. This will help ensure that you are maximizing efficiency and power to move through the water without straining any muscles unnecessarily.
• Smoothly slide back and forth in a straight line using synchronized motion for more power with each stroke that should then be released simultaneously towards completion of each stroke cycle for maximum results. By following these pointers, you’ll be able to confidently start using a rowing machine for an effective full-body workout!

Safety Tips

Rowing machines provide a great way for you to get a full body workout. However, as with any exercise equipment, there are safety considerations that need to be taken into account. This section will outline key safety tips to keep in mind when using a rowing machine. From proper form to warm-up and cool-down techniques, these tips will help you have a safe and effective workout.

Warm Up

It’s always important to properly warm up before engaging in any strenuous physical activity. Low-intensity aerobic exercise is a great way to get your muscles and joints limber and ready for exercise. For example, walking or jogging on the spot, slowly stretching your limbs and torso or engaging in light strength training exercises can help you warm up optimally. After a few minutes of warming up, try rowing at a low intensity for two to three minutes so you’re ready to transition into your full-body workout on the rowing machine.

Monitor Your Heart Rate

Monitoring your heart rate is an important part of any physical activity, including rowing. Adjust the intensity of your workout and rest periods according to your maximum heart rate and exercise goals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends exercising at a level that produces a target heart rate between 50%-85% of maximum when performing aerobic activities. To determine your maximum heart rate, you can use an online calculator or simply subtract your age from 220.

You should take your pulse before, during and after each session on the rowing machine to ensure that you are staying within the recommended ranges for proper conditioning and health benefits. If feeling too fatigued or if you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing, immediately stop exercising and consult with a healthcare professional.

Listen to Your Body

It’s important to remember that when exercising on a rowing machine, you should always listen to your body, and back off if you start to feel any pain or extra strain. Although rowing is an excellent low-impact exercise option and typically does not cause injury, it is possible to put too much strain on your joints if you do not use proper form or do not warm up properly before starting.

When using a rowing machine, it is essential that every stroke AND recovery be done slowly and controlled. Take notice of how each power phase feels. Engage all of the muscles supporting the movement simultaneously, which will help keep you balanced as well as using all the correct muscles while rowing. Ensure correct posture throughout the row stroke; maintain a straight back with chest open and slumped shoulders avoided; this will help reduce tension on your lower lumbar spine. During the recovery portion of each row stroke cycle ensure hips are pushed back keeping some hidden tension in your hamstrings and glutes also helping maintain posture. Core is also engaged throughout each cycle of the row stroke including stabilizing both upper body during drive or inverse abdominals during recovery for maintaining tight core positioning – which translates into better posture, which helps reduce chances for overuse injuries from improper form/posture.

Keep in mind that rowing strains both major muscle groups at the same time allowing for a full body workout that combines both stretching and strength training making it one of the most complete workouts available! When performing a rowing session, pay attention to feeling any tightness or tension in any part of your body – especially around joints – as this can be an indication that either incorrect form has been adopted or indeed exercise should stop immediately until further advice can be taken from qualified personnel like personal trainers or athletes who have more experience with using rowing machines safely and effectively.


Ultimately, yes, rowing machines provide a great full body workout. They work all the major muscle groups, build core strength, and increase overall conditioning. Additionally, they are low impact and help improve posture and balance.

Rowing machines also offer excellent cardio benefits that can help with weight loss or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When combined with strength training exercises on other equipment such as free weights or resistance bands, they can be effective as part of an overall fitness program.

For those looking to add a full-body workout to their home gym setup, investing in a rowing machine is highly recommended. It’s suitable for all fitness levels and provides numerous health benefits when used regularly.

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