The Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine


Check out the equipment at any fitness center, health club or home gymnasium. Chances are you will find treadmills, stationary bikes, step machines and cross trainers. Less likely are you to see rowing machines. Oh, there might be one or two sitting in a corner, unused.

It seems strange that these machines are not front and center with the rows of treadmills, spinning machines and steppers. Rowers, also called ergometers, are not the exercise or toning machines of choice. Nevertheless these machines can provide an amazing workout.

Rowing machines are an efficient single fitness machine. They provide many health benefits including: aerobic workouts, calorie burning, increased muscle strength, elongated muscles toning, and weight loss.

Why Use a Rowing Machine?

There are several reasons to consider rowing as part of a workout.

  1. Aerobic workout:

A stationary rowing machine uses a large number of major muscle groups. Thus, it raises your heart rate and increases your oxygen uptake. Besides the energy required for simply rowing  the machine also can adjust resistance thereby increasing the energy required.

Rowing machines with all the bells and whistles monitor heart rate via a chest strap.

  1. Calorie burning:

Frederick Hagerman, director of the Work Physiology Lab at Ohio University, states that the rowing machine is the supreme calorie burning machine. Research shows that rowing burns 10 to 15 percent more calories than cycling—the next best calorie burner—at the same level of exertion

At a normal rowing speed, the stationary rowing-machine will burn up an average of 600 calories per hour. To get the same results on a stationary bike you’d have to ride eighteen minutes longer.

Rowing machines get such good results because you must expend equal effort on both lower and your upper body. To get maximum calorie burning, on the back stroke, your knees should be almost completely straight before you squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the handle up to your chest. Your back should remain naturally arched.  Set the rowing machine at a resistance of four. Set the timer for twenty minutes. Complete sets of 10, 15, and 20 power strokes. Make sure to pull the handle to your body as fast and as hard as you can. Intersperse the power strokes with one minute of easy rowing. Repeat this cycle until the timer dings.

  1. Upper body conditioning:

Rowing machines work the rhomboids in the shoulder, trapezius in the upper back and lats in the lower back as well as the biceps, pecs. The strong grip required on the oars produces stronger hands and wrists.

The rowing machine is one of the best exercises for building muscles in your back, arms, and chest.

  1. Lower body conditioning:

In rowing the abdominals are engaged throughout the entire motion. Where running, jogging, and skipping jar the joints, rowing machine workouts are low-impact exercise. Rowing is especially good as a lower body workout. It involves the quads in the upper front of the thighs, as well as the calves and glutes in your buttocks.

Which Rowing Machine?

For home fitness rowing machines provide one of most efficient single machines for optimum full-body workouts. For the best lower-body workout, choose a rower with a sliding seat.

Rowing machines work your upper body, lower body and abdominal muscles with just one motion. There are many different styles and brands of rowers. Before purchasing a rowing machine, do the research. Consider resistance method, size, accessories, and price.

Low risk of injury:

Rowing is a natural, low impact motion. It puts minimal stress on the joints. Regardless of age most people can use a rowing machine for exercise. Even those with mobility issues can make use of this efficient machine. Low to the ground, the rowing machine presents even less risk of falling or losing your balance than a stationary bike.


With rowing, the potential for back strain is a concern. However, if you are careful to use the correct rowing posture, the risk of back strain is lessened. Proper rowing posture lets your legs do the work, taking the pressure off your back. As well, you control the speed and tension so you can stop at any time and adjust tension.


Spread the love