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13 Unexpected Benefits of a Rowing Machine

Benefits of Rowing

Oof! Was that a rowing machine you just tripped over in your garage? Then consider yourself lucky. Despite any perception you may have of a rowing machine as old school, it actually provides an exceptional full-body workout—letting you build strength and get a great cardio burn at the same time.

Here’s why.

Benefits of a Rowing Machine 

A rowing machine (aka ergometer) is an often overlooked, yet exceptional tool for strengthening muscle, burning fat, and boosting aerobic capacity. It can help tone your legs and arms, tighten your core, and boost your buns. And although at first glance a rowing machine is all about the arms, it recruits your lower body more than you might think. In fact, a rowing workout typically utilizes 60 percent legs, 30 percent core muscles, and 10 percent arms. There are numerous benefits of rowing machines—certainly enough to convince to you give rowing a try.


Full-body burn. Want a full-body workout that incorporates the arms, shoulders, chest, legs, back, glutes, and all-important core? You’ll have a hard time finding another piece of cardio equipment that works as many muscles as a rowing machine.


High intensity, low impact. A rare and winning combination, rowing provides an opportunity to work out at high intensity with very little impact to the body. As such, not only is rowing great for developing strength and fitness, it’s also an ideal exercise for active recovery.

Rowing Machine Benefits


Fast results. Because rowing is such a good, all-over workout—and probably a refreshing change from your regular routine—you’re likely to see results fast when using a rowing machine.


Two-for-one workout. A rowing machine workout ticks two key fitness boxes at once: it lets you build muscle while burning fat, through a combination of strength and cardio training. Wondering how many calories you’ll burn? Roughly 400-500 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of your workout and your body weight.


Perfect posture. Rowing alone won’t give you perfect posture, but, done properly, it will sure help you develop the habit of sitting upright by strengthening your posterior chain muscles and core.


Custom versatility. A rowing machine is appropriate for all fitness levels and all types of workouts, from high intensity intervals to steady-state endurance. You can adapt the resistance to your ability and desired training to truly customize a rowing session that’s right for you.


Balanced body. The pulling motion of a rowing workout is a good way to counterbalance more popular push-focused bodyweight exercises like pushups.


Instant accountability. On a rowing machine, if you stop, the machine stops. There’s no way to fake the effort or cruise through your session like you can on a Spin bike, for example.


Efficient effort. Even 15 minutes on the rowing machine is enough time for a great workout, especially if you incorporate high-intensity intervals. Stick with rowing longer for more varied workouts and even better results.


Quick recovery. Rowing is an easy exercise to repeat often. It’s a concentric muscle movement, causing tension as your muscle fibers shorten (unlike eccentric exercises like squats that cause your muscles to lengthen under load). Typically you won’t get as sore from concentric movements, meaning you’ll recover faster and be ready to row again.


PT approved. If you’re working with a physical therapist to rehab an injury, they may recommend rowing. That’s because there’s no impact in rowing, so it’s typically safe to use as a therapy or cross-training tool while building back fitness for other sports.


Mindful & meditative. Sure, that’s a nice way to say monotonous. But if you’re training for an endurance event like a century ride, a half marathon or marathon, or a long-course triathlon, learning to embrace monotony is key in developing your mental edge.


Home-gym convenience. A rowing machine it lighter weight than a treadmill and folds up for easy storage, making it an ideal piece of home-workout equipment, especially for anyone living in a small space.


Now are you ready to start rowing? Clean the cobwebs off that dusty rowing machine and discover the fitness routine that’s sure to become a favorite, fast.


Have you already tried a rowing machine? Tell us about your experience and your results.


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