The rowing machine has been the best-kept secret in fitness for over 30 years.
To be blunt, if you haven’t looked into rowing, you must.
Walk into a gym during busy hours, and you’ll likely see every cardio machine occupied except for the lonely rowing machine in the corner.
What a shame!
What Is a Rowing Machine?
Rowing machines are often called ergometers. These machines mimic the motion of rowing on water.
The rowing machine is jam-packed with benefits, from burning a significant number of calories to knocking out cardio and strength with minimal time investment, sparing the joints from excess impact stress, and being approachable for all fitness levels.
Rowing machines might be the perfect piece of home gym equipment.
Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine
1) Assist with Weight Loss
If you’re looking to burn calories and lose weight, the rowing machine should be top on the list of activities.
Research consistently ranks rowing high on the list of exercises that burn the most calories.
You don't have to grind away for hours to reap the calorie-burning rewards of rowing.
A mere 30 minutes on the rowing machine can burn up to 300 calories, sparing your joints and conditioning nearly the entire body.
Think thirty minutes isn’t enough to improve fitness? This research argues otherwise.
Why Does Rowing Burning So Many Calories?Muscle engagement.
Rowing is a total body effort, activating nine different muscle groups and almost the entire body.
2) Better Alternative to Elliptical or Treadmill
The rowing machine has distinct advantages over common cardio machines like the elliptical and treadmill.
Rowing burns significantly more calories and works far more muscles compared to the elliptical. Compared to the elliptical, rowing machines offer more workout options such as high-intensity interval training and power training.
It’s really difficult to perform high-intensity efforts on an elliptical.
The biggest advantage rowing machines have over treadmills is the massive training effect without impact. Rowing is easy on the joints but challenging for the entire body. Running is primarily a lower-body activity, with little stimulus for the upper body.
Rowing works 85% of the muscles in the body.
Rowing machines will save you money, as they are a more cost-effective option compared to ellipticals and treadmills.
3) Time-Efficient and Effective Workouts
People often overlook the time investment involved in working out at a big box gym.
At best, you’re looking at 30-45 minutes of drive time plus whatever speed bumps you run into once at the gym.
Travel time to and from the gym, set-up time once you’re at the gym, and unexpected delays from the equipment you need not being available, all add up.
You’ve just invested two hours into a workout that should have taken 45 minutes at most.
A rowing machine can be a centerpiece of any home gym space and deliver a whopping training effect in the comfort of your own home.
One of the significant barriers to exercise adherence is time. Whether it's a reality or mismanagement, time is a problem for many people when sticking to exercise.
The easy in/easy out concept is a HUGE advantage of owning a rowing machine.
What do I mean?
If you owned a rowing machine, all you have to do is throw on workout clothes, pop in the headphones, strap in and get to work. Folks who have invested in home gym equipment know how convenient having access to quality equipment is.
Easy in, easy out.
In 30 minutes or less, you can get a full-body workout, all without leaving home. An entire row-focused session can include a total body warm-up, along with 20-25 minutes of rowing.
Whether you prefer exercising first thing in the morning or after the day is done, rowing at home saves a crazy amount of time.
Interval training or more prolonged steady-state efforts, it doesn't matter. Thirty minutes is all you need to get an excellent workout for the day.
4) Workout for the Entire Body
Rowing is a total body workout best-known for being a great cardio exercise, but it also builds strength.
The rowing stroke resembles a combination of a deadlift and an upper body row.
Each rowing stroke involves roughly 65 to 75% lower body and 25 to 35% upper body.
While rowing might not burn the most calories of any exercise, it’s not just about calories. The muscle activation during rowing is off the charts. Rowing activates over 85% of the muscles in the body.
More muscle working is an excellent benefit of rowing. The most effective modes of exercise often work the most muscles.
Rowing develops functional and practical strength of the shoulders, legs, core, upper back, and chess.
If your primary goal is to build muscle, rowing might not be the best choice.
Remember, rowing is an endurance activity, and endurance activities naturally are not the best for building muscle.
Lifting weights is best for achieving muscular goals.
In saying that, a rower's physique leaves clues, and I can promise you, dedicated rowers are not skinny wimps.
Looking for proof of how hard rowing can be?
Row 2000m as fast as possible.
After you return to earth, follow up with us in the comments section.
5) Great for Cardiovascular and Lungs
Aerobic fitness is critical for building a healthy heart and lungs.
Rowing is a premier method for improving cardiovascular fitness, both aerobic and anaerobic.
Just a few minutes exercising on a rower will have you huffing and puffing!
The heart and lung benefits of rowing play an essential role in fitness and establishing good health.
Regular engagement in cardiovascular boosting rowing delivers a host of benefits, including:
- Lowering the risk of disease
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Increasing blood flow and circulation
- Reducing the incidence of falls
- Improving weight management
- Cognitive benefits
- Improving workout efficiency
- Strengthening the immune system
- Boosting mood and lower depression
The benefits of adding more cardio activity to your workout routine are undeniable, and the rowing machine is the best choice.
6) Low-Impact Exercise
Impact forces are associated with the development of musculoskeletal injuries.
Long-term adherence to exercise is all about staying healthy to enjoy the activities you love. If your joints are taking a beating, it's time to find ways to keep active without the stress.
Runners, I’m talking to you.
In general, people who run, love it. The problem is, around 50% of runners get hurt each year doing what they love.
If you're reading this and you're a person that loves running, consider adding rowing to your weekly training regimen for a new challenge and relief from pounding the pavement.
Cross-training can be a critical piece of a workout routine to avoid overuse injuries.
A rowing machine can offer cardio and strength benefits without impact.
Remember, rowing is strenuous! You'll quickly realize why so many are gravitating toward these machines.
It could be the change of pace that your workout routine needs.
7) Simple Learning Curve
Learning how to row is simple.
Yes, establishing expert-level rowing efficiency is a bit more involved than turning the pedals on a bike, but it's easier than most people think.
Anyone can learn to reap the reward of rowing within 10-15 minutes with simple coaching cues. It might take you a lifetime to refine your technique, but the barrier to entry is similar to biking or running.
The technical aspect of rowing is a great benefit.
Physical activities that require high-level focus and ongoing refinement of timing, body position, and mechanics are worth your time to learn.
You'll increase kinesthetic awareness and add movement skills to your athletic toolbox.
Pro Athletes Leverage the Benefits of Rowing
Professional athletes use rowing machines for the same reason everyone else does. It's an incredible workout and a great way to deviate from more traditional exercise.
More muscles are working, different motion and easy on the joints.
It’s remarkable knowing that world-class Olympic rowers use the same machine to prepare themselves for world championships.
Boasting about how Olympic athletes leverage rowing may seem like a strange benefit, and maybe it’s more of a selling point, but if rowing is good enough for them, it's good enough for the weekend warrior.
As they say, train like an athlete.
Universal to All People with Different Fitness Levels
For anyone looking to get back into shape, here are some words to live by: Be fit to run, don’t run to be fit.
Instead of reaching for high-impact running to get back into shape, consider the simple learning curve and low-impact nature of rowing.
A significant benefit of the rowing machine is how approachable it is.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to get back into shape or you’re advanced looking to take your performance to a world-class level, the rowing machine gets results for everyone.
It’s just a matter of adjusting the training perimeters. Intensity, duration, rest periods can all be modified to suit any fitness level.
It doesn't matter if you're 15yrs or 90yrs old.
The rowing machine is fantastic for every fitness level.
Rowing Machines + Weights = Hybrid Workouts
Rowing machines integrate exceptionally well with other gym equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and even suspension trainers.
Adding different exercises to rowing can inject a freshness to the daily routine and increase the overall training effect.
There are hundreds of ways to organize a workout using the rowing machine, a single kettlebell, and a few bodyweight movements.
Here are a few simple yet humbling workouts to get you going.
Upper body pushing and core stability training pair well with rowing in this circuit:
The freestanding nature of kettlebell swings make for seamless transitions between swinging and rowing in this circuit:
Crawling is fantastic for the upper body and reflexive core stability. Crawling pairs well with rowing.
Next time you walk into a gym, keep an eye open for the lonely machine that nobody’s using.
That lonely rowing machine might deliver the best workout you’ve ever had.
To learn more about the benefits of rowing machines, check out GoRowinGo.