We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Benefits of Using Rowing Machines for Exercise

Rowing machines are actually very good fitness equipment. If you want to enhance your workouts, consider the benefits of using a rowing machine for your exercise.

Rowing Machine Health Benefits

If properly done, using a rowing machine can help with:

1. Weight loss

Rowing is among the most effective sports around when it comes to weight loss and muscle building. Water sports are excellently simulated with a rowing machine, and you can train at any time in your own four walls.

The advantage of rowing is that the entire body is trained very gently on the joints thanks to the even and smooth movements. Eighty percent of all main muscle groups are addressed and are involved when rowing.

Training on the rowing machine accelerates fat burning, and calories are burned with every move. Experts say that a person weighing 125 pounds burns 255 calories when rowing for 30 minutes.

Figuratively speaking, you can row away from the fat and get closer to your dream figure. For the best results, the resistance of the rowing machine must be adjustable so that you can choose from different training variants.

2. Improves heart health

It would be impossible to live without a heart. People should take good care of their hearts because many heart health issues have a fatal risk.

Rowing increases heart rate and improves oxygen consumption. In time, this cardio exercise can lead to better cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of cardiac illnesses and stroke.

Rowing exerts pressure on different parts of the body and can help you maintain a good healthy heart. Your cardiovascular and other health will be improved when you row, whether indoors or outdoors. Beyond matters of the heart, this type of exercise can greatly enhance your overall fitness.

3. Low-impact cardio

Low-impact cardio is an exercise that doesn’t put a lot of stress on the body. Generally, during rowing, the body weight is supported by water or a machine. In this way, the joints absorb less impact from the force.

Rowing comes highly recommended if you have joint problems or chronic weight problems. You may also find this helpful if you struggle with getting in shape through jogging or hiking. Besides burning calories, it works out both upper and lower body muscles, so it’s an excellent option for people that want low-impact training to get started.

But it would be a mistake to think that rowing is not very intense. It is possible to do low-impact cardio exercises as intense as high-impact running, increase the pace, reduce recovery time, or increase resistance.

4. Good for seniors

Indoor rowing isn’t limited to young, powerful athletes. Researchers have proven that low-impact rowing is good for aging bodies due to its low impact.

Researchers have also found that bone density improves when older people use rowing machines. Because you’re in a seated and safe position throughout the activity, rowing is an excellent exercise for seniors and populations with at-risk conditions.

Your immunity improves, and your digestive system improves when you row regularly. With every stroke, rowing targets a large portion of your body’s muscles, making it more effective than most other exercises minute-by-minute.

5. Corrects posture

Rowing offers multiple moves that relieve back pain and corrects posture. The back muscles are directly targeted, and the results are remarkable.

Having to sit for long periods is a common cause of back pain for people. It leads to many postural issues as well as restlessness. If you can maintain the correct posture while exercising and support your back, then you’ll be able to overcome the difficulty. Rowing strengthens back muscles and improves your posture.

For the best results, use the machine the right way. It is easier to control protective movements by following certain patterns, positively impacting your posture and back support. You need to find the right moves when you are using the rowing machine.

But before you start, prepare your muscles for training by stretching. A few minutes of stretching before rowing is good for improving posture. A cool posture can also be improved through light jogging before rowing.

6. Good for osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease symptomized by loss of bone density. It puts you at risk of fractures. While physical activity is one of the prevention tools, certain sports and exercises, such as rowing, are particularly recommended.

Aging is the main cause of osteoporosis. Without regular movement, bones weaken and become less strong, increasing the risk of fractures and falls. Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of this skeletal disease, which mainly affects women.

Rowing slows down this bone loss. Bones are living tissue. They are continually being built, deconstructed, and reconstructed. We must strengthen them through an active lifestyle and sports activities.

Rowing allows the bones to take in mechanical stress by creating microscopic lesions due to the impacts. As a result, the bones are rebuilt, solidified and consequently have a greater density”.

Stretching during the catch and the drive enhances the elasticity and flexibility of muscles. This improves muscle and joint mobility. Stretching limits the risk of injury and fracture, which indirectly helps protect bones. Overall, rowing can help seniors regain stronger bones, better flexibility, and a greater range of motion.

Which Muscles Benefit From Rowing Machines

Rowing machines benefit various muscle groups, the most prominent of which are the back, legs, shoulders, abdomen, and arms. Also, using a controlled and even motion while rowing strengthens your joints.

Strengthens back muscles

Many people spend most of their day using computers on their desks. In this position, they spend a lot of time hunched over. Many of these people ride in cars to get home to sit on sofas after work. When you are slumped in a chair, your posture isn’t the best.

It’s common for lower back pain to occur due to poor posture, stress, or sitting too much. In rowing, the hips swing gently forward and backward, targeting the lower back. Although it will not be an intensive lower back exercise, its further use will benefit you.

Rowing machines can help to strengthen the back by enhancing the muscles involved in posture and balance. You may notice your back pain disappearing if you row for a few weeks or months.

Strengthens core muscles

During every stroke, you engage your abdominal muscles as if you were doing a sit-up. As you push back out, you engage your lower back. Due to the movement of the seat, you’re forced to maintain equilibrium as you glide back and forth. All this effort adds up to a tough and rock hardcore.

Lean back (with extended legs) until your abs quiver to maximize core-toning power for better results.

You might try pretending that you’re holding a paddle to do exercises for your midsection. While alternating the rowing machine, pull toward each corner of the machine to target the oblique between regular strokes.

Although it could be possible to row for some time without engaging your core, your speed and endurance will eventually diminish. Rowing takes speed, sweat, and power, which means that the core must be engaged for you to work against resistance.

Rowing is also a great fat-burner, which makes it great for core definition as well. As rowing engages most of the muscles in your body, you’ll be burning more fat than usual while building lean muscle.

Abs muscles

Rowing burns fat around your midsection. As a result, it offers a full-body workout capable of burning more than 300 calories per hour. During rowing, the abs and core are engaged, but the real question is whether they’re the primary muscles used or secondary muscles that get little or no attention.

The rowing machine continually engages the core throughout every stroke and burns fat throughout the whole body. The best machine for building stronger abdominal muscles and burning the most fat builds the strongest muscles in the abdominals. The rower!

To major reasons why rowing machines are good for your abs

  • Each movement burns body fat
  • It is impossible to row properly without keeping the core engaged

Rowing machines are a great way to tone your abs, burn fat, and get your ideal stomach just because of these two things. This fitness equipment will allow you to accomplish your goal of gaining a ripped core, provided that you use it properly.

Rather than going fast, you need to concentrate on maintaining proper form during the rowing strokes. You will gradually build your muscle mass, improve your speed, and strengthen your core as your proper form becomes a habit.

Strengthens glutes

The rowing machine uses a pull system, so most people think that the only workout they will get is in their arms. The truth is, a rowing machine works your lower body 60% of the time, making them one of the best total-body exercises available today.

Your glutes are part of your lower half that gets highly engaged during a rowing machine workout. The glutes are a muscle that does not normally come to mind when we think about leg muscles. However, they are an essential part of the rowing exercise.

You engage your glutes and your core when you perform a push-pull movement with your arms and legs. While abs, back, and core are engaged to stabilize your upper torso, your glutes keep your lower torso upright and stable.

A rowing machine may not appear to enhance your glutes right away, but it can improve your glutes’ shape and tone with continued use. Results won’t happen in just a few days. Ideally, you should exercise more than four times a week or six times a week for optimum results. If you want to work seven days a week, make sure to give yourself some days off.

Strengthens arm muscles

By rowing, you can work out virtually every muscle, including your arms, not only from a cardiovascular perspective but from a muscle-toning perspective as well! Yes, people get wonderful-looking arms by using rowing machines.

When you row, you do both cardio and strength at once. These exercises work you’re the back and front side of your arms. There are many benefits to rowing, including calories, burned, fat burned, improved triceps and biceps definition and better arm strength,

During the Catch, your legs are bent, your shins are vertical, your arms are straight, and your body is slightly bent forward. The drive begins with a leg push through a vertical position, followed by an arm pull through the vertical position. In both cases, the muscles of the arm are successfully engaged.

Strengthens leg muscles

When a person uses their legs, back, and arms, the drive has begun. The person moves backward as they push forward with their legs, straightening their knees as they push. The oar exits the water at the end of each stroke, and the boat moves forward into the catch position after the oar has exited the water.

Water resistance is recreated artificially on rowing machines by simulating the movement of the oars through the water. In addition to toning the muscles of the back, arms, shoulders, and legs, rowing also stresses the muscles in the legs. Similar to leg presses, this exercise can lead to stronger, bigger, and better-toned legs.

Strengthens shoulder muscles

Exercises that increase shoulder blade strength, such as rowing, are typical good shoulder exercises. Performing rows with your elbows close to your side can prevent pinching of the rotator cuff.

In contrast to popular belief, rowing machines do not harm the shoulder. Remember to focus on correct rowing techniques to ensure that the machine does not inflict pain or damage on your shoulders.

Place the rowing machine in a place with free space and a flat surface. Focus on creating a continuous motion while sitting on the machine. Your knees, shins, and arms should start from a bent position with your shins vertical. Keep your arms and shoulders stationary while extending your knees. While bringing your elbows to your stomach, extend your back, and extend your shoulders once you have the oar fully extended.

If your shoulders hurt, stop rowing. Injuries and incorrect use of machines may result in pain. For guidance on proper technique, seek the help of an expert trainer. Take medical care if you have continuing pain.

Strengthens chest muscles

Water rowing and rowing on a machine both target the chest, making them highly effective exercises. Whenever possible, do rowing exercises at least two or three days per week while allowing your muscles a day to rest between sessions.

During the drive, pectoral muscles are engaged. On the rowing machine, you do this by pulling the bar toward your chest when you enter the water, and the oar is pulled back.

The brain sends messages to the motor neurons surrounding the pectoral muscles when the pectoral muscles contract and release with each stroke. Your brain, motor neurons, and pectoral muscles become more and more intertwined the more you perform a physical task.

Maintain a straight spine on the rowing machine to truly target your chest muscles. Take your shoulders off your ears by rolling them back and down. Pull the belly button in to engage your core muscles.

You should pull the horizontal bar toward you on the rowing machine after pushing back to the point where your knees are slightly bent. As you touch the bar to your chest, keep your elbows tucked close to your body as you shift them behind you.

When rowing, remember to keep the motion fluid. After a one-second drive, recover for two to three seconds. With 20 high-quality strokes per minute, your chest can be engaged more efficiently than with forty sloppy ones. A strong core and spine are essential to good posture.

Strengthens hip muscles

Sedentary lifestyles decrease hip mobility. Building strength and reducing pain can be achieved through a variety of hip exercises. Exercises for the hips can benefit everyone, regardless of age, gender, occupation, or lifestyle.

Exercises like rowing, which are low-impact and strengthen hip muscles, are excellent to prevent injury. A healthy hip joint works when the hip muscles, such as the quadriceps and glutes, are strong.

Osteoarthritis typically occurs in the hip joint. As well as protecting your hips from wear and tear, strengthening your hips through rowing can help you recover from knee pain.

Since your hips are involved in how your knees are positioned, working on strengthening your hips will help you get past knee pain. Rowing for the hip joints is immensely beneficial in the long run, even if rigorous movement is not a big part of your daily life. One benefit of rowing is that you will no longer have pain or weakness in your joints. This can save you from overreliance on over-the-counter pain medications.

The improved leg strength, the core muscle strength, and the gluteal and hamstring strength rowing provide help avoid hip flexor pain.

Strengthens muscles around knees

Rowing helps to strengthen the muscles around the knees. The quadriceps above the knee extend during the rowing stroke. Also, as part of the rowing motion, the hamstring and gastrocnemius muscles contract.

The stronger these muscles become, the better they can support your knee joint. People who have stronger leg muscles may be able to reduce their chronic knee pain.

Typically, each stroke is made up of four separate movements. There are four movements in a catch, a drive, a finish, and a recovery. Please note that a common place for injury during Catch is the knee because it is flexed. The rower may experience patellofemoral stress syndrome or iliotibial band syndrome if the knee is bent too much during the catch phase.

A patellofemoral stress injury occurs when there is pain on the back of the kneecap, while an iliotibial band injury occurs outside the knee. It is critical to adhere to proper form.

Additional Benefits of Rowing Machines

  • More interesting than using a treadmill
  • It is easy on the body and mind
  • It is not expensive
  • It combines both cardio and strength
  • It is good for a change of gym routines


  • High risk of injuries if rowing machines are done with improper form
  • Some rowing machines are super loud
  • It can be tedious on the back

Different Resistance Types of Rowing Machines

Air / Flywheel Resistance

There are various types of air rowers. They are widely considered to be the best sort of rower, having existed since the 1980s. The air resistance machine is the standard indoor rowing machine, which is sometimes called an ergometer.

A flywheel inside an air rowing machine produces resistance by forcing air through it. By pulling the rowing handle, the flywheel is spun by the wheel connected to the handle. Rowing faster causes the flywheel to spin faster, causing more resistance.

Advantages of air rowers

  • Wide variety of resistances mimicking water rowing
  • Resistance adjusts automatically based on your stroke rate
  • Effortless movement
  • Very little wear to the mechanism

Magnetic Resistance

Magnetic rowing machines are very popular at home, especially for people who do not own a gym. As a result of their resistance mechanism, they are the quietest rowing machines available, and they are also more compact compared to air rowers and water rowers.

Magnetic rowers are known for their smooth rowing action and quiet operation. A spinning flywheel is attached to a handle by a chain, and magnets along the flywheel vary in distance from one another. Either mechanical sliders or console controls can be used to adjust resistance levels.

Magnetic rowing machines have several advantages.

  • Operate quietly
  • Several resistance levels to choose from
  • More compact than a water or air rower
  • Maintaining the unit is not difficult

Water Resistance

Using water and paddles, water rowers are among the newest innovations indoor rowing technology. Many individuals prefer the smooth action of water rowing machines to air rowing machines.

In water rowing, a flywheel (paddles) is attached to a chain and handles in a water tank. In the water, the paddles revolve when you pull the handle back. Masses of moving water create a drag that resists the paddles. Air rowing machines provide greater resistance as you grow faster. Its users claim the action is similar to rowing on the water and far much smoother, as the resistance remains the same during the whole stroke.

The resistance of water rowers does not change during the stroke cycle as it does with air rowers.

Water rowers have many advantages.

  • They operate quietly
  • Consistent, smooth resistance throughout the stroke
  • Water whooshed in the tank is preferred by many
  • A water change is all that is occasionally required – the rest is minimal maintenance

Hydraulic Resistance

Compared to flywheel rowers, hydraulic rowing machines are cheaper and also smaller and quieter. Unless they are significantly improved, they may be extinct in the rowing machine world.

The handles are attached to pistons that create resistance. The resistance is adjusted by clamps that adjust the air or fluid pressure level within the cylinder.

Hydraulic rowers have several advantages.

  • They are less expensive than most rowers
  • They tend to be smaller and foldable
  • These are quiet rowing machines with flywheels

What to consider when buying a rowing machine

Space: Rowers are generally big exercise machines. Unless you have a home gym, the first thing you should check is the space available in your home. Compare your room’s dimension to the rowing machine dimensions to determine if it will fit your workout space.

If you have a large room and expect to use the rowing machine regularly, you can get a water or flywheel machine. Otherwise, if you have limited space in your home, a hydraulic or fold-away rowing machine will suit you.

Resistance System: Rowing machines can have four resistance systems; air, hydraulic piston, water, and magnetic. Each setting has benefits depending on your workout goals and individual requirements. Magnetic rowers are smooth-running and noise-free, and air resistance rowers give a natural workout experience.

On the other hand, hydraulic rowers are affordable and compact, whereas air resistance rowers have more life-like rowing features.

Noise Level: The noise level is an important factor if you will place the rower in a public area. You would not want to disturb other family members or your neighbors. The type of resistance greatly affects the noise produced.

Water rowers have less noise compared to fan-based rowers and air rowers. However, if you want a silent machine, magnetic resistance indoor rowers are the ultimate go-to.

Storage and Maintenance: When buying large workout equipment, maintenance and storage become key aspects to consider. Rowing machines typically occupy a lot of space, so you should ensure you get one easily store. Some machines can be stored vertically, while others are foldable. Your home gym or room layout will determine how to store the equipment.

Additionally, maintenance has to be relatively straightforward. If you have a busy working schedule, a water resistance machine is not for you. The reason being, you will need to change the water constantly. Next, if you want to avoid maintenance costs, buy a rower that has detachable parts. When it needs repair, you will only replace the damaged part.

Machines that are more compact and have added features are usually repaired by professionals. Avoid these types if you can’t work your way around a toolbox.

Fitness Goals: Thoroughly go through your fitness goals before purchasing a rowing machine. Some machines are equipped with features and technology to help with specific workout goals.

For instance, a hydraulic piston rower is best for toning and building your muscles because of different resistance settings. However, if your objective is to only lose weight and burn calories, any rower will work. Some machines have programs that allow you to set and attain new targets.

You should also regard the number of people who will use the rowing machine and their weight range. If your machine is for a fitness center, get heavy-duty rowers with different manufacturers’ weight ranges. This way, your machines will stay in good condition, and you won’t lose your warranty.

For a home gym, ensure family members who use the machine a not heavier than the recommended range. For those with heights above average, a rower with longer set rails is the best option.

Features and Controls: Monitor controls and key features makes a rowing machine comfortable or uncomfortable, depending on your liking. You can choose between high-performance or basic rowers. Upgraded models have a heart rate monitor, preset settings, and a calorie counter. Only buy a high-performance machine if you are a hundred percent sure you will use the additional features. On the flip side, basic rowers have distance, speed, and time displays.

Your Budget: Last but not least, always check your budget to avoid buying a machine that is too pricy for you. In most scenarios, the higher the selling price, the more upgrades the rowing machine has. You can get a rower from as low as a hundred bucks to as much as three thousand dollars.

If you cannot afford the hottest machine in the market, purchase a mid-range or low-range rower. You’d be surprised how many quality rowers fall in these two categories.

In summary, a rowing machine is a great investment, so it has to be worth it. Before purchasing a rower, familiarize yourself with the dimensions, features, controls, and resistance types. With this buying guide, you will have an easy approach to buying a rowing machine.