Rowing machines, also known as ergometers or ergs, are currently on an upswing thanks to their muscle-strengthening, aerobic-boosting, fat-burning, meditative-healing and low-impact qualities.
Mobilizing up to 86% of body muscles, the rowing machine can give you a unique opportunity to work out your total body, activating the abs, back, shoulders, chest, triceps, wrists, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
As a complete exercise helping you to reap rewards on both your physical and mental well-being, it is the one-of-a-kind workout that separates the rowing machine from the rest exercisers, putting it at the pinnacle of in-home fitness.
Why choose rowing over other forms of fitness?
The answer is simple:
Unlike other workout exercisers, a rowing machine gives your entire body a thorough workout in and out while having low impact.
Rowing vs. Other Workouts
LEVEL OF EFFECTIVENESS
Still need convincing that ROWING MACHINE is a terrific exerciser for you?
Scroll down to find out how rowing machine workouts can benefit you in a holistic way and tips to reap results faster while avoiding unnecessary injuries.
15 Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts
1. full-body workout in less time
2. weight loss and fat burning
3. cardiovascular and strength conditioning all at once
4. build stamina and endurance
5. improve posture
6. relieve anxiety and stress
7. create mental toughness
8. cultivate virtual tranquillity
9. improve self-confidence
10. prevent cognitive decline
11. low impact and joint-friendly
12. good for people of all ages and fitness levels to try
13. good for people with disabilities
14. ideal training for all sorts of sports
15. lots of fun
· Physical Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts
On the physical side, some of the top benefits of rowing machine workouts include weight loss and maintenance, muscle toning, better sleep and a decrease in the risk of certain conditions, such as stroke, heart disease and type II diabetes.
1. Full-body workout in less time
Tight scheduled and want to accelerate progress towards your fitness goals? Give the rowing machine a go!
Rowing exercises all the major muscle groups: legs, arms, back, abdominals and buttocks.
Legs provide most of the power of the rowing stroke and your upper body adds the rest. Besides, rowing is one of the few aerobic activities that can actually strengthen your back.
The rowing ratio is typically around 65-75% legs and 25-35% upper body, which keeps your heart rate elevated while building core strength.
Doing each group separately can take three times as long and in some cases burn fewer calories. This tripling up effect is one of the great benefits of rowing machine.
As your body is really being challenged, you’ll see a difference faster. This makes a rowing machine perfect for people who want to do a total body conditioning while valuing time and efficiency with their workouts!
2. Weight loss & fat burning
One of the main reasons why we spend our precious time on workouts is to get rid of fat. If this is your goal, you should put your hope into a safer and merrier fat-burner – a rowing machine.
Regular workouts on a rower can help you burn calories, tone muscles, and give you increased energy. It is an incredible fat burner and it really does engage almost every single muscle in your body.
British Rowing says rowing helps burn calories – between 400 to 1000 calories an hour (depending on your pace and weight).
The Harvard Health Publications also made a research on the calories burned by activity and weight. A glimpse of the rowing activity is provided below.
The mathematics of fat burning and weight loss is simple, you need to burn more calories than you take in.
Since rowing gets almost all body muscles into business, the energy consumption during this exercise is high.
Combined with eating a healthy, balanced diet, using a rowing machine consistently is a great way to help you lose weight.
3. Cardiovascular & strength conditioning all at once
Is it a day for cardio or strength training? OR is it a day for aerobic or anaerobic training?
We sometimes fall into the workout dilemma when factors like time, energy levels and motivation are in play.
If you want to improve both your cardio fitness levels and your overall strength, the rowing machine can find its place in your training program.
Aerobic benefits of rowing machine workouts
You work your body out aerobically when you do any type of exercise that requires your body to use oxygen to help your muscles function.
Rowing is helpful aerobically because your body is forced to make repetitive rowing motions. Over time, your body is able to perform more rowing strokes as you get into better shape.
When you do it, you are using your arms to row, moving your legs up and down to keep your momentum, and in general, you are active for a long period of time.
This increases your heart rate and forces you to breathe more often. The oxygen that you take in is then rushed to your muscles to keep them functioning.
As a cardiovascular exercise, it helps you to reap the aerobic benefits of rowing machine by increasing your lungs’ ability to provide oxygen to the heart, blood as well as the rest of your body. Besides, it’s helpful to lower your blood pressure while keeping your arteries cleaner.
The scientists from the University of Alberta, Canada are on board with us, too, with their research on endurance values in rowers.
They examined the vital signs of rowers on a 2K-meter distance to see how the heart responds to aerobic loads. The results showed that the part of the heart called the left ventricular responded with an increment of area and mass – meaning that the heart grew stronger.
Who doesn’t want a healthy heart and lungs?
Regular rowing exercise will improve your aerobic capacity by being able to stay active for longer periods of time.
Anaerobic benefits of rowing machine workouts
While the aerobic benefits of rowing deal with how much oxygen your muscles get, the anaerobic benefits deal with how much resistance they are forced to deal with.
Indoor rowing machines are designed to simulate the resistance you face. This resistance forces you to work your muscles harder.
As a result, oxygen is actually robbed from your muscles and they are pushed harder than during aerobic conditions. This is what helps them to get stronger over time.
The harder you work out, the more you are pushing yourself to achieve anaerobic benefits. But you can’t push yourself to the limit all the time, so you’ll also see some aerobic benefits of rowing machine workouts, too.
Rowing is kind of a two-for-one workout, combining the benefits of lifting and running. You’ll test your muscular and cardiovascular endurance and strength, making you stronger and more efficient over time.
4. Stamina & endurance building
The rowing machine is great for working on your cardio to build endurance.
You may feel exhausted at first. But if you keep at it, you will gain the benefits of rowing machine workouts in terms of increased stamina and huge boost in your metabolism, which will give you more energy in the long-term.
To be more specific, long training on a rowing machine affects your body fluid and mass levels in a positive way, while your blood parameters remain pretty much the same. Over time, you will get fitter and have more drive to do the things you love!
There are special breathing techniques for professional rowers designed for achieving the highest performance.
If you are a fan of running or other active sports, you really should stop neglecting the rowing machine. It will directly boost your endurance needed for various activities, including competitive sports, marathon running, and sex.
5. Posture improving
How many of us can say that we have excellent posture, ballet dancers excluded?
Like most people, you are probably living a sedentary lifestyle, which often causes your back muscles (and others all over your body) to be unused and cause you to slouch and have a bad posture.
A 2017 paper by the Sedentary Behavior Research Network (SBRN) defined sedentary behavior as any activity involving sitting, reclining, or lying down that has a very low energy expenditure.
Are you among one of the running or cycling enthusiasts who are suffering from bad postures over time? Rowing would be your cross-training fix.
The classic upper-back hump cycling posture of cyclists tend to develop certain postural abnormalities like slumped shoulders and head dropped forward on the neck which often become painful if they are not dealt with.
While the problem with runners is that you always revert back to poor postures or forms as you start to fatigue, which will cause some common running posture problems like rounded shoulders and lordotic spine.
“It’s no secret that runners typically suffer from injuries associated with weak cores, poor posture, and restricted flexibility …… Rowing with proper technique will help improve posture while developing functional flexibility, making you an overall stronger athlete.” says Hollis Tuttle, accredited run trainer and manager of teachers at CityRow at New York City.
Rowing with proper technique – without slouching or over-compressing – requires you to be upright as you pull.
Instead of hunching your back, a rowing machine primarily uses your legs, core, and wakes up literally every single muscle in your back. As you Extending and flexing your back during a rowing exercise, you’re stretching out the tired and unused muscles in your back.
As long as you nail the technique, rowing is brilliant for improving your posture.
Keeping your back straight and engaging the posterior chain [backside] is super important for balancing your muscle strength. It also helps to reduce injury risk and correct the bad posture resulted unfortunately from the sedentary behaviors in daily life while developing functional flexibility.
· Mental Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts
Rowing is a great physical exercise, but it’s far more than that.
The great boat builder George Pocock put it well in a 1973 documentary film:
“It’s a great art, is rowing.
It’s the finest art there is.
It’s a symphony of motion.
And when you’re rowing well,
why it’s nearing perfection.
And when you near perfection,
you’re touching the Divine.
It touches the you of yous,
which is your soul.”
— George Pocock
The physical benefits make rowing exercise such a powerful tool in the quest to stay healthy. The pros on the mental and emotional side should also inspire you.
The experts at Harvard Health Publishing say that regular physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress, boost confidence levels and help manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Just as we go to the gym and lift weights in order to build our physical muscles, we may also develop our mental health through the use of mental tools and techniques.
Much like seeing physical gains from working out and eating healthier, we must develop healthy mental habits, like practicing concentration, if we want to experience mental health gains.
We are all able to become mentally stronger, the key is to keep practicing and exercising your mental muscles — just as you would if you were trying to build physical strength.
Besides a healthier body, there’s a mind-body connection with rowing. The positives of rowing for your mind should not be underestimated.
As a full-body aerobic exercise, the smooth, gliding motion you create on a rowing machine and the rhythm of repetitive movements allow your mind to go on autopilot and doing it regularly will help with your mental strength.
The endorphins are mood-enhancing hormones released in response to rowing exercise. They act on the brain, triggering a cascade of benefits of rowing machine workouts such as improved mood state, enhanced immune response, altered pain perception, and a diminished stress effect.
Therefore, rowing can also have a positive effect on your psychological well-being and not only physical fitness.
6. Relieve anxiety and stress
A short rowing session will release and increase the level of β-endorphins in your blood, which are those feel-good hormones that make you a happy, serene person once again.
Modern medicine widely uses aerobic exercises as an addition or an alternative method to boost happy chemicals, overcome daily stress and ease anxiety or depression. This research shows the relation between oxygen uptake and the effects of coping with these disorders.
No need to wait when your mood will start going down to join the rowing. Whether it’s work, where the always grumpy coworkers and unsatisfied boss rubs you the wrong way, or a random driver on your commute who mixed up gas and brakes in front of you, rowing will help you become cool as a cucumber by the end of the day.
Due to responses in the hippocampus, our brain is more likely to build fresh neuron connections. A strong connection of neurons grants you a higher stress resistance.
Regular sessions on your rowing machine will lift your mood, decrease tension and even improve your self-esteem.
If you mount on a water rowing machine where each stroke you take is accompanied by the soothing sound of moving water, the effect is even more apparent. It is also excellent for relaxation and meditation, to clear your mind and to help you sleep, thus cultivating a virtuous cycle of your mental health.
7. Create mental toughness
Rowing creates mental toughness because as a workout it can be hard but there is a great sense of achievement at the end of a session.
Rowing is not easy. It requires real effort and dedication if you really want to make it work. It also demands a certain level of mental toughness that is higher than in other fitness regimes.
Some of the most mentally strongest athletes out there – from MMA fighters to the Ironman competitors – swear by rowing and these guys know how mentally challenging serious exercise can be.
Rowing can certainly help you with building mental strength because it requires you to be steadfast, persistent and dedicated. We know exercising releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones, which help relieve stress but rowing does even more. Because it requires a rhythmic movement rowing is relaxing, almost like dancing, and if you pop your headphones on you’ll find yourself in “the zone”.
8. Cultivate virtual tranquillity
Indoor rowing could be your meditation practice. It’s your chance to breathe and to move, to concentrate on staying upright, to conduct the next stroke, to feel the sensation of your indoor rower as if it skates across the lake.
You leave all your worries on shore; there’s no room for them when you’re rowing.
The rowing motion feels extremely smooth and quiet, and the splashing sound of a water rowing machine is relaxing. Its noiselessness makes rowing machines perfect for home use.
Some individuals and dedicated rowing gyms add to the mindfulness factor by including water rowing machines (like WaterRowers, Topiom Rowing Machines), where each stroke you take is accompanied by the soothing sound of moving water.
9. Improve self-confidence
As icing on the cake, regular rowing will tone your shape and improve your posture, which further boosts your image of yourself.
As you achieve new results in this type of exercise and your body changes for the better you will feel a boost of self-esteem.
Setting your personal record at the rowing machine in your local gym will do wonders for your ego and will give you a fresh boost of self-esteem which will rub off on other areas of your life.
10. Prevent cognitive decline
Performing a single rowing stroke includes four phases. Acquiring a proper rowing technique will take some time for beginners. The complexity of this exercise may seem like a struggle, but it turns out to be another benefit of a rowing machine.
The input of exercises to cognitive abilities was proven by researchers from Brain Injury Research Center, Los Angeles, California. Cognitive abilities include perception, attention, memory, language, and more.
Scientists found that those who participate in aerobic exercises, such as rowing, had an increased ability to process information due to a positive impact on the central nervous system.
Thanks to the fact that rowing puzzles your mind with understanding and learning a new movement pattern in a proper way gives you an additional cognitive boost.
Not only is an exercise known to improve your general mood thanks to the release of endorphins we all experience during and after exercise, but it is known to have longer-term benefits too. These include all the mental health benefits of rowing machine workouts that you’re likely to experience thanks to the improved sleep you’re likely to be getting as a result of exercising.
· Other Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts
11. It’s low impact & joint friendly
Stronger body with low impact? Yes, please.
One of the rowing machine’s claims to fame is it’s low impact and non-weight bearing while giving you muscle strengthening and gentle cardio work.
“Rowing is a low-impact form of training that utilizes all major muscle groups, including your legs, core, back, and arms,” says Hollis Tuttle, certified run coach and director of instructors at CityRow in New York City.
Rowing burns serious calories without putting added stress on your joints. It allows you to control the movement and pace, making it a great exercise to turn to for active recovery.
It’s sometimes recommended as an exercise option for people with early stages of osteoarthritis or arthritis to stay in shape. It’s also good for you if you’re recovering from an injury or battling with other aches and pains.
This exercise is also recommended for rehabilitation after joint surgeries like endoprosthesis of the hip as the safest and most efficient.
A rowing machine will help you strengthen your joints, and increase mobility without causing more damage.
In contrast to other popular workout routines such as running or cycling, rowing is a smooth, rhythmic motion that puts minimal load on your joints and much safer for your body whilst giving you a good workout.
This is all thanks to the position of the body: when you row properly and maintain a relaxed body posture, you are at the lowest risk of feeling a negative impact, unlike the resistance integral to running.
Meanwhile, by engaging the back muscles, the rowing machine can help prevent or even relieve back pain. A godsend for the most fragile at the knees, hips, ankles or shoulders. If you are looking for a low impact all-round sport, the rowing machine is for you!
The same goes for the back! By engaging the back muscles, the rowing machine can help prevent or even relieve back pain.
A 2014 study of 24 people over 8 weeks found that joint torques, or rotations, in the elbow, shoulder, lumbar, and knee improved by 30 percent.
Having back pain or knee problems like sprains, strains, torn cartilage, arthritis and osteoarthritis doesn’t mean you can’t be active and find a sport you love.
Choosing low impact sports like indoor rowing that engage your back muscles and are easy on your joints is the best way to avoid re-injury and increased back pain and knee pain while shaping and toning your total body.
12. It’s good for people of all ages and fitness levels to try
Rowing is one of the few exercises that doesn’t discriminate. No matter how old you are, what you weigh, what your fitness level is, whether you’re recovering from an injury, a calibrated challenge will be provided to you no matter what rowing machine you’re going to hop on, anyone and everyone can row.
A rowing machine’s resistance can be adjusted to fit your needs, which means it’s suitable for all fitness levels, from a complete novice, a regularly active people to a seasoned Olympic athlete.
Thanks to its variable resistance and low-impact feature, a rowing machine has no age limit! It doesn’t strain joints and bones, rowing is an ideal workout for young and old. If you are looking for a cardio machine for the whole family to use, consider a rowing machine for your home gym.
Rowing is a lifelong sport, able to be enjoyed by all ages, from kids to grandparents.
Older people can exercise quite comfortably on a rower, improving and maintaining their overall health. Young kids can also benefit from the smooth and rhythmic motion of rowing machine exercise.
Besides, it is quite versatile – you can row indoors or outdoors, competitively or easily. It’s up to you. The only requirement is that you enjoy yourself.
As you row, the machine adapts to your skill level and capability. You can recalibrate the level of resistance of each stroke and scale the difficulty of workouts by your demand.
As you improve, you can adjust the resistance levels and your rowing speed much more challenging and the goals of each workout much harder to accomplish.
As long as you have access to a rowing machine, you can add rowing to your exercise routine. Rowing is an easy activity for people who wish to embark on a fitness routine.
Good for people of all ages and fitness levels to try, indoor water rowers are the choice for sharing your rowing experience with your family.
13. It’s good for people with disabilities
Did you know that rowing machines have been used for the rehabilitation of patients in hospitals?
According to The Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing by Jim Flood and Charles Simpson, this was happening as far back as 1938. The sport of indoor rowing is also opening up to people with spinal cord injuries and paralyzed limbs.
Rowing made its Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008. Para rowing (or adaptive rowing) is a category of rowing race for those with physical, visual or intellectual disabilities.
As per the British Rowing, anyone can get involved in rowing, regardless of physical disability, sensory or learning impairment.
One of the first paraplegic rowers was Robin Gibbons, rowing for the Queen of England. Gibbons’ muscular legs inspired Dave Estrada to dedicate himself to the sport. “The physical benefits [of rowing] are immense, but I don’t believe they’re as big as the psychological benefits,” says Gibbons. “After a spinal cord injury, everybody has to go through the process of trying to find self-worth again.”
It’s fascinating to observe but more importantly, it has been shown to be effective in helping paraplegic athletes increase bone density, muscle tissue, and reverse osteoporosis from atrophied legs.
As per Dianna Carroll, Epidemiologist at the CDC “We know that regular aerobic physical activity increases heart and lung function, improves daily living activities and independence, decreases the chance of developing chronic diseases, and also improves mental health.”
Being used as a versatile, safe, and effective tool for people living with disabilities ranging from paraplegics to the blind, rowing is now almost accessible for EVERY…ONE!
14. It’s ideal training for all sorts of sports
Regardless of the sport you do, you’ll benefit from rowing as part of your training.
Because it works so many muscle groups, it strengthens and tones arms, shoulders, legs and your back. From swimming and weightlifting to running and tennis, rowing will help your training.
It’s hard to convince runners to switch up their cardio routines. However, just as doing yoga or resistance training can make you a better runner, different types of cardiovascular activity, such as rowing, swimming or cycling, can also make you stronger and more efficient on the run.
By changing the kind of stress your body has to handle during a workout (i.e. not pounding your feet into the ground every single day), you can actually reduce your chances of injury.
“It’s no secret that runners typically suffer from injuries associated with weak cores, poor posture, and restricted flexibility,” says Tuttle. “Rowing with proper technique will help improve posture while developing functional flexibility, making you an overall stronger athlete.”
15. It’s lots of fun
Rowing is lots of fun. Depending on the mood you’re in or how much energy you’ve got, you can make it an easy session or a hard one.
If exercising is something you dread, it is a lot harder to motivate yourself to do it.
One of the easiest ways to stay motivated when it comes to exercising is by finding an activity you enjoy. Rowing can be done while you’re watching TV, listening to your favorite tunes or holding a conversation.
In addition, there are plenty of rowing or fitness apps making indoor rowing fun! You may connect your indoor rower and explore beautiful environments, get real-time feedback, see detailed training reports, compete against other players, level up and much more!
Nowadays, virtual reality rowing is introduced to give you an immersive rowing experience. Creating magic wonder for your indoor rowing, it turns your workouts into pleasant vacations.
How to Use a Rowing Machine
Can’t wait to reap the benefits of rowing machine? Can’t wait to become a stronger, healthier and happier one?
Master the correct technique is always important to help you get started and achieve results without risking injury.
The key to rowing is to understand the motion and the different positions you’re in when rowing. A full “stroke” of rowing can be broken down into four distinct phases from beginning to end – the catch, drive, finish and recover.
Here is the correct rowing technique for beginners.
This is the beginning of the movement. Sit tall on the rowing machine with your arms straight, back upright, and knees and ankles flexed so that your shins are roughly vertical. From this position, relax the spine to increase flexibility in the core and use your lats to pull your shoulders down and brace your core. This engagement will help protect your lower back. Then lean forward slightly, keeping your back tall.
Begin by pushing with your legs, while still bracing and contracting your core. When your legs are straight, hinge at the hips and lean back to about 45 degrees. The last movement is from your arms as you pull the handle towards your torso, a few inches above your belly button. Note the specific order of body movements: legs, core, hips and shoulders, arms.
This is the resting position opposite the Catch position—although you won’t rest here for long. Legs are long, shoulders and back are leaning away from the legs, hands (and handle) are pulled in toward the body, and elbows are tucked in toward the torso.
Now do the Drive movements in reverse order to return to the Catch position. Extend the arms, hinge the hips forward to bring the torso over the legs, then bend the knees.
If you find it’s hard to remember…
Here’s a handy way to remember how to row: legs, core, arms (on the way out) and arms, core, legs (on the way in).
Meaning, when you start from the bottom of a stroke (in the catch position), you should extend your legs, hinge your core, then use your arms to row the handle toward your chest. Then you reverse it to go back to the beginning: Extend your arms, let your core hinge forward, then bend your legs.
You can repeat it in your head as a sort of mantra while you’re rowing: Legs, core, arms, arms, core, legs. A lot of the power actually comes from the legs, but you need to keep your core tight while you push back and eventually pull the handles with your hands/arms.
The motion you use in a rowing exercise is not always intuitive, but it’s actually pretty simple once you dial it in.
A detailed guide for rowing technique is published here.
Training Resources to Help You Reap Results Faster
Here are some practical tips and free online training resources we collected and selected to help you reap the benefits of rowing machine workouts faster.
Whether you’re a complete novice or a rowing pro, there is something for you.
If you prefer watching videos, Dark Horse Rowing and Training Tall have numerous instructional yet interesting videos to help you get started or advanced with indoor rowing machines on their YouTube channel, providing great workout ideas and rowing content in general. British Rowing hosts an indoor rowing exercise class called “Go Row Indoor”, providing you technique videos and workout videos that are available anytime on YouTube, helping you to master indoor rowing and get fit in the process!
If you’re a reading person, there are many blogs and articles online listing various rowing workout plans and tips to improve your rowing technique.
Before hopping on a rowing machine and row your way to a longer and quality life, always keep in mind that every workout routine and every machine requires following the safety precautions, proper techniques, and common sense.
Consult your physician or doctor before you embarking on or ramping up any indoor rowing exercise and workout. Since only your doctor or physician can determine whether you are medically able to participate and how much exercise is safe for you, thus prevent you from injury.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.
Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for can result in injury and serious medical problems.
To help make rowing a habit, be sure to stop exercising when you’re too tired to maintain proper form.
Diversify your workouts
Exercise is key to good health. But do not limit yourselves to one or two types of workouts.
In reality, you should diversify your workouts to reach your specific goal more effectively, and all be doing aerobics, stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises.
No matter what type of exercise machine or routine you follow, in order to lose weight and get the kind of results you really want, you will need to also watch your diet. There’s no way around that!
Many experts say that a general rule of thumb is that weight loss is around 75% diet and 25% exercise. Cutting calories by making smart diet choices is far easier than burning them on the rower.
A combination of a smart diet and consistent workout is the best solution for reaping the desired results faster.
There are many different models that can perform a rowing motion and help you to reap the benefits of rowing machine workouts.
Indoor rowing machines have some other advantages like easy storage, assembly and transportation, making them the best workout exerciser for home use.
It’s highly advised to incorporate a rowing workout into your routine, especially during the lockdown. Just 10 minutes of indoor rowing a day can start changing your brain chemistry, improving your figure, boosting your immune system, helping you and your family to stay healthy at home!
Happy (and healthy) rowing!
If you wanna add a rowing machine to your home gym and look for some advice during this special quarantine period, check out the Rowing Machine Buyer’s Guide and the most updated all-in-one Best Rowing Machine Reviews.