7 Benefits of a Rowing Machine Workout


7 Benefits of a Rowing Machine Workout

There are so many reasons to love this total-body workout.

Words By Peloton

Endurance and muscle building are just a couple of the benefits of rowing that keep people coming back for more. If you're looking to amp up your current workout routine, improve your posture and increase your overall fitness, the rowing machine may be perfect for you, too.

This article will let you in on almost everything you need to know, from proper form to the undeniable perks of rowing machines. Our goal? To spread the news and love of rowing. Let's get started.

What’s in this article:

What Is a Rowing Machine?

Rowing machines are back in the fitness spotlight, thanks in part to fitness influencers and our own Peloton Row. Indeed, the popularity of indoor rowing is growing by leaps and bounds, with competitive events taking place around the globe. So, what’s all the fuss and why do rowing machines offer such a stellar workout?

Rowing is a full-body workout, targeting all the major muscle groups, including your arms, legs, back, and core. It's a fantastic low-impact, high-intensity cardio workout that challenges the heart and muscles in many ways. A rowing machine has you mimicking the motion of rowing, such as how you might propel a canoe, raft, or kayak forward in the water.

Rowing machines are perfect for all fitness levels and the benefits of rowing are varied and wide, including improving your cardiovascular health. Using a rowing machine is relatively easy–although you will want to receive guidance or training, at least initially, to ensure you’re using the proper form so the workout best meets your fitness goals.

Benefits of a Rowing Machine Workout

Rowing machine workouts have many benefits, and you don't have to be a professional or competitive rower to enjoy them. Because rowing uses both your upper and lower body with every stroke, you'll strengthen and tone muscles while improving your endurance.

Here are some rather compelling benefits of adding rowing machine workouts to your usual fitness regimen:

Easy to Use

Rowing machines are intuitive and easy to use, so there isn’t a steep learning curve to contend with. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re using proper form and the right amount of resistance based on your workout goals. For example, if you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to start with a lower resistance level and work your way up as you become more comfortable with the rowing movement and its effects on your body.

Works Your Arms, Legs, Back, and Core

Rowing is one of the few fitness activities offering a total body workout. It doesn’t just work your arms – it also requires leg and upper body work, as well as targets your core. Here are the areas of the body and muscle groups you can hit in just one rowing session:

  • Legs: Your legs–including your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes–are the main power source during the drive phase of the rowing stroke. This is when you drive, or push, yourself backward as your legs straighten out ahead of you. (At the same time, you’re also pulling your arms back toward your chest in a smooth, controlled motion.)

  • Back: Your back muscles, specifically the lats, traps, and spinal erectors, are engaged during the drive phase of the rowing stroke. At the completion of the drive phase, you should be at the finish, leaning back slightly, with legs extended and arms close to your chest.

  • Arms: Your forearms, biceps, and triceps are used during the drive and recovery phases of the stroke as you pull your arms toward you then extend them away from you.

  • Core: The core muscles, including your abs, obliques, and pecs are engaged throughout the entire rowing stroke to help stabilize the body and maintain proper posture.

  • Shoulders: You engage your deltoids with every stroke on a rowing machine, helping to rotate your shoulders and engage your upper back muscles.

Not Weight-Bearing

Regardless of your fitness level, it’s important to avoid overwhelming your knees and other weight-bearing joints. This is where efficient, low-impact, high-intensity workouts–like rowing–come into play.

Rowing burns a ton of calories without stressing your joints. You control the pace and movement, making it particularly helpful for beginners and those recovering from an injury.

High-impact exercises have their place in the fitness world. Still, low-impact workouts can be just as effective–and your joints will thank you for giving them a break from time to time. Or all the time; it's entirely up to you!

Variety of Workouts

A rowing machine is versatile and can be used for a variety of workouts, including interval training, endurance training, and strength training.

Rowing also allows you to reach your goals quickly with short, intense workouts. You don’t need to run for hours. Since rowing works your entire body, you'll target all major muscle groups and get a killer cardio workout.

For example, quick workouts on the rowing machine counts as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), as long as your intensity is high enough. HIIT workouts assist you in burning more calories, even after you’ve finished working out. Even in very short bursts, HIIT is beneficial to your health. If you find yourself without the time to exercise, 15 minutes on the rower will do the trick!

Stress Relief

Rowing is an effective way to relieve stress and tension, making it great for mental wellness. Consistent, repetitive exertion like rowing can help put you in the zone, offering much-needed relief from the stress and anxiety of your daily grind.

Break Up the Cardio Monotony

If all the usual cardio routines are becoming boring, or you simply want more diversity in your fitness routine, rowing offers a fantastic alternative to the usual cardio exercise. Not only is it comparable to many other cardio routines, but rowing is superior to them in many ways, especially because it works the entire body without unnecessary stress on the joints. Rowing is an excellent way to break up the workout monotony.

Improve Posture

Sitting all day at a computer or spending hours looking down at a phone does your posture no favors. Rowing can counteract these and other activities that can keep you in a hunched-over position. Rowing provides an excellent upper spine workout, targeting the upper back and shoulder muscles with every stroke to improve your upper back posture.

How Long Should You Work Out on a Rower?

First and foremost, you want to engage in a workout of a length that will benefit your body.

Rowing sessions are often shorter than other types of cardio exercise because rowing efficiently targets multiple muscle groups in a high-intensity way. In this way, even 10- or 15-minute workouts on a rowing machine can be highly effective.

A single rowing stroke works your hamstrings, core, arms, glutes, and back muscles. A mere 10 minutes adds up to about 200 strokes, at which point you should be sweaty and exhausted, in an entirely invigorating way. You may wish to vary the amount of time you spend on the rowing machine, depending on your pace and intensity level.

Incorporating a Rowing Machine Into Your Workout Routine

Once you begin using your Peloton Row, you may be surprised at just how easy it is to incorporate rowing into your usual fitness routine. A rowing machine is the perfect addition to your home gym, as so many people are rediscovering. The Peloton Row is also comfortable, easy to store, and offers access to all our rowing classes and the accompanying Peloton playlists. Rowing is one of the best ways to amp up your fitness plan or start a new one.

Are you rowing with Peloton? If not, we can help you get started today.