This is a reader-supported Website. By clicking on product links, you help us keep producing independent objective analysis at no cost to you. Thanks for your support!


Why Should You Consider Exercise on a Rowing Machine?

If you are interested in staying in shape, and have spent any time reading about it, or talking with friends, you know there are dozens of approaches to staying fit or getting in shape.

At a typical gym, you may find various cardio machines that exercise your heart and help burn fat, as well as weightlifting machines, not to mention dumbbells, barbells, chin up, and pullup bars, and so on. One of the best, most versatile ways to exercise, either at the gym or at home, is with a rowing machine.

Let’s look at the benefits of using a rowing machine.

But First, Why Exercise at All?

There Are Many Reasons for Exercise. One study by Psychology Today listed a full 19 reasons to exercise, which are outlined as follows:




  1. Builds aerobic power
  2. Reduces blood pressure
  3. Lowers Type 2 diabetes risk
  4. Maintains immune functioning
  5. Reduces body fat
  6. Keeps bones strong
  7. Builds muscle mass
  8. Improves breathing
  9. Boosts your energy
  10. Reduces the risk of arthritis
  11. It improves sex life
  12. Brings about better sleep
  13. Improves mood
  14. Lowers anxiety
  15. It feels like fun
  16. Reduces absenteeism
  17. Boosts memory
  18. Builds intelligence
  19. Lowers dementia risk

hourglass image


Finding Time to Exercise

Since most of us lead busy lives, juggling job, family, and at least some recovery time, we also need to find time to exercise and to do it as efficiently as possible. So, picking the best exercise routine can make a big difference in keeping our life in balance.

Why Exercise on a Rowing Machine?

Here are the reasons why you should seriously consider using a rowing machine for at least some, if not all, of your exercise.


  1. It’s flexible–you can go as hard or as easy as suits your situation
  2. Good for both strength training and cardio
  3. For strength, it uses up to 85% of your body’s muscles at once
  4. For Cardio, you can go fast or slow to work up to a stronger heart
  5. Easy on the joints. Injuries can happen in the gym, but rowing machines don’t involve jumping, twisting or impact that can affect knees and other joints
  6. It’s meditative. You can just get into the rhythm of it, and let your mind sink into the breath and motion, giving yourself a mental rest
  7. It’s great aerobic exercise
  8. Weight loss. If you work hard and generate body heat, you’ll be burning calories to lose weight

Let’s look at this in more detail.

How Do You Use a Rowing Machine?

Once you learn the proper way to do it, rowing is actually really easy. To remember the proper way to row, keep in mind the following: legs, core, arms on the way out and arms, core, legs on the way in.

You can repeat this as a mantra as you row, and it can help remind you to keep your core tight as you go.

According to Joseph Illustrisimo, the creator of Let’s Dryft in San Francisco, “rowing is about 60-percent legs, 30-percent core, and 10-percent arms.”

There are many instructional videos you can find online if you choose an at-home program. Learning how to use the rowing machine is important for beginners to ensure that all efforts are maximized, and the exercise is being done correctly and safely.

Low-Impact Cardio and Strength Training

Unlike exercises like aerobics classes or dumbbell and barbell training, rowing machines incorporate both cardio and strength, depending on how you use the machine.

Rowing Machines actually use 85% of your muscles. Plus, it can be meditative.

“You actually use about 85% of your muscles on a rowing machine. Your legs, arms, and core are all utilized, making it a great way to tone all of those areas at once! 3. It Can Be Meditative” (1) With rowing, you are getting a full-body workout because it works most of the major muscle groups in your body.

Low Impact on Your Joints

How good are your joints? At least 25% of people over 50 have joint issues, and even younger athletes can have minor joint problems or injuries. Why give up your training when you can still get a great workout using a rowing machine.

“Rowing machines are intense pieces of cardio equipment that work your upper and lower body at the same time. Impact is a force at which a body part contacts the ground during exercise.

If you have joint problems or are obese, high-impact exercise can be contraindicated, putting you at risk of doing more harm than good. Low-impact exercise machines, on the other hand, can give you a safe and functional. (2)

Rowing as Aerobic Exercise

You can use your rowing time to emphasize building your lung capacity and stamina, by engaging in longer periods of rowing but not rowing so intensely. Likewise, you can also incorporate anaerobic exercise, which performs a different physiological function. But are great ways to stay fit and complement each other in your workout. The difference may be compared with doing a lot of lightweight strength training reps vs. a few heavyweight reps.

Aerobic Rowing Workout

Aerobic rowing workouts consist of prolonged periods of rowing at low to moderate intensities. Rowing at submaximal levels will give your body ample time to take in oxygen, break down carbs and fat and produce energy to continuously fuel your workout. Submaximal aerobic workouts derive a large portion of energy from fats, gradually shifting to higher use of carbohydrates if your intensity increases.

Anaerobic Rowing Workout

Anaerobic rowing workouts consist of high-intensity, intermittent bouts of exercise; for example, rowing with maximum effort for one minute and then resting for three minutes, repeating the work-rest cycle several times. To keep it anaerobic, you have to keep the working time short and the recovery time longer to give your body ample time to replenish energy stores.

Longer work periods and shorter rest times will create an environment for an aerobic workout. Anaerobic workouts depend almost entirely upon carbohydrates for energy and, because of the high intensity, burn a substantial amount of calories. (3)

Rowing Machine Workouts for Weight Loss

Lots of people are worried about their appearance due to excessive weight. Of course, there is the health dimension as well. Losing weight is one of the main reasons why people embark on an exercise program. Again, the good news is that rowing machines are great for weight loss because it’s a way to get your body moving, you are building heat from movement and effort. This naturally burns fat.

Improve Lower Body Conditioning

Since your leg muscles are being used a lot during this kind of exercise, you can better target lower body conditioning. This helps you build up both strength and endurance during your rowing workouts.

Better Posture

Another benefit that isn’t discussed much when rowing is how it can improve your overall posture. Again, the rowing machine works out your legs, core, and back, it can help balance your muscle strength, reduce your risk of injury, and help correct bad posture.

Beginner Friendly Workouts

Another huge benefit of rowing is that it is an easy workout for even beginners to dive into and try. You can see results very quickly, but you have to stick to a routine that lasts longer than just a few minutes each day.

Use your rowing machine for at least 20 minutes a day to begin to see a vast improvement in your form and to get your heart pumping for a great cardiovascular workout. If you work out long enough, you can also start improving your form.

Conclusion – A Word About Form

While rowing machines have a lot of advantages as we have seen, it is also true that the correct form does matter. If you exert yourself too hard, and especially if you don’t sit and keep your back in the right position, you may experience back pain or back strain.

That’s not a fun thing because it cannot just disrupt your exercise routine; it can disrupt your whole life. If you have ever thrown your back out, you will understand what’s meant here.

When you use a rowing machine, be sure to warm up first, as you would with every exercise period, pay close attention to your body sensations. If you feel pain, note it carefully and if it doesn’t feel right, either stop or pay close attention to whether your form is correct or not.

Rowing machines are only one component of your overall health, If you’d like to get my free ebook, 26 DIY Knee Health Secrets, just click on this link, and we’ll send it right out to you.

If you feel inspired about rowing machines, be sure to see my full review of the top rowing machine for home use.

If you’re over 60, check out the three best rowing machines for seniors.

Rowing FAQ

What are the benefits of aerobic exercise or cardio exercise?

When you do aerobic or cardiac exercise, you can improve your cardiovascular health according to the American Heart Association. It is also beneficial for those who are at risk for heart disease. This kind of exercise also helps lower blood pressure, help regulate blood sugar levels, reduces chronic pain, regulates weight, and strengthens the immune system.

How do you do high-intensity interval training rowing?

A rowing workout combines rowing intervals with strength training. This is ultimately a high intensity and low impact workout. It can also be a challenging workout if you are new to rowing. You will have to start slowly and then build up your intensity level.

Start by rowing at a comfortable pace for a three-minute warm-up. You can then go to maximum effort after the three-minute warmup to burn as many calories as possible for 60 seconds until you ease off and then go for another 60-second set.

You can do the desired amount of sets you want during your workout. Beginners usually start with three sets, while more advanced people can do as many as ten sets per workout.

How good is rowing compared to other cardio exercises?

Rowing can burn up to 600 to 800 calories per hour and is a low impact exercise, unlike running. It is one of the best cross-training workouts you can do because you can also tailor your workout to fit your fitness level. You will also find that rowing allows you to work out a greater amount of muscle groups than other cardio exercises.

How long should you use a rowing machine to lose weight?

You should use a rowing machine for fifteen minutes a day. However, if you are trying to lose weight, you may need to be on your rowing machine for a bit longer to burn more calories. You can also elevate the intensity as you go as well to burn more calories.

Can you build muscle with a rowing machine?

Rowing works up to 85 percent of your muscles and helps you build up your endurance and anaerobic fitness. Rowing also allows you to build muscle size, strength, and power.

Thanks for reading!


  1. https://gethealthyu.com/the-kick-butt-workout-you-arent-doing/
  2. https://www.livestrong.com/article/84020-low-impact-exercise-machines/
  3. https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/rowing-aerobic-anaerobic-workout-18866.html
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201205/18-reasons-exercise