Skip to content

Is a Rowing Machine a Good Full-Body Workout?


Is a Rowing Machine a Good Full-Body Workout?
Table Of Contents

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream – but is it really just a gentle ride or a hardcore full-body workout?

That’s the question we’re diving into today as we explore whether a rowing machine can give you a workout that will leave your body singing ‘oh, my aching muscles!”

Rowing may look hard and scary at first, but it actually is a more amateur-friendly workout that provides one hell of a workout. 

Doesn’t matter if you’re scaling or whether you want to try out the gym or workout at the ease of your home; here are all the deets to help you decide. 

What Is a Rowing Machine?

To put it simply, it is a piece of equipment that mimics the rowing of a boat, like the ones you see in a competition. Although it may seem easy to do, my dear friend, once you step into it, you’ll soon realize that it packs one hell of a punch on your body. 

Many have associated it with different objects, but if one wants further clarification it is considered to be the Swiss army Knife of the gym, as stated by Michelle Sosa, an ACE-certified personal trainer, professional rower, and Hydrow Athlete. 

They further clarify that due to its multiple purposes, it works to improve all kinds of Areas on your body that will correct your muscles and redefine them in a better way. 

How to Use a Rowing Machine? 

At first, it may seem simply complex, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty simple. As you start from the bottom of a stroke, push out to extend the legs, control your core by leaning backward, and then use your arms for rowing the handle towards your chest, continuously pulling your elbows back side by side. 

Then go back in reverse to attain your starting position: Extend the arms forward, lean your core forward, keep your back straight, and bend your knees. 

Many people seem to confuse rowing workouts as an upper body-only exercise, but it’s not, as it also works on the legs and the core. If we were to divide the amount of input the body had to use for the rowing workout, it would be divided as follows: 

  • 60% would be by the legs 
  • 30% would be done by the core 
  • 10% would be the arms 

Most of the workout would be done by using your hamstrings and booty only if you have the right posture. 

If you’re still unsure and have doubts that you’re doing the workout correctly, you can discuss it with a trainer at your local gym to demonstrate the proper form or choose an at-home program with instructional videos for the workouts. When choosing which machine is better for a workout, check out this article on the Aviron vs Hydrow

Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine: 

At the end of the day, there is always that one question that everyone needs to ask, “Does it actually work?” 

Yes, yes, it does, and here are the benefits that come with the workout: 

It improves one’s fitness: Even if one is to row for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes, it is considered to be a good workout.  If you incorporate it into your daily life, you are sure to increase your stamina and endurance while improving your cardiovascular health

A full-body workout: If you’re still not satisfied, a recent study shows that rowing utilizes 86 percent of the muscles in your body throughout the workout. If we were to divide the areas that were to be affected by the workout, they would be:   

  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Pecs
  • Arms
  • Abdominal Muscles
  • Obliques

As mentioned above, rowing works as a total workout as it also improves lower body conditioning, which helps to build strength and endurance. 

It is a meditative workout: When one rows outdoors in the water, it acts as a calming benefit, but one can achieve the same state of calmness when rowing indoors.
To do this, create a smooth, gliding motion on the ergometer, and the repetitive movements allow your mind to enter into autopilot. $ phases are involved in the rowing stroke that is: 

  • Catch 
  • Drive 
  • Finish 
  • Recovery 

Workout with less injury: Due to its nature of the low impact, a rower machine presents a low percentage of injury. Due to this, it is easy to complete rowing workouts of high intensity while avoiding wear and tear on the body and joints. While many workouts, such as plyometrics and sprinting, can be hard on the body but equipment like rowing machines and bicycles are good for the body as many variables change the rowing workouts, such as resistance, pace, and distance. 

A better posture: As the rowing machine makes use of your legs, core, and back, it comes with a lot of postural benefits that act as a great tool to engage the back of the body. To balance your muscle strength, reduce injury risk, and correct bad posture, it is necessary to work on your back. 

Great for heart and lungs: As rowing is considered to be a cardio exercise, it helps to strengthen one’s cardiovascular system, which includes the heart, blood vessels, and blood. Due to the importance of the system, as it transports materials such as nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, it is healthy to keep it in tip-top shape.

Rowing helps one to improve heart strength, as due to the nature of the workout, the heart is required to transport more blood to the body and is beneficial to those who have or could be at risk for heart problems. 

Efficiency: It is considered to be your best ally when you are short on time. As stated before, due to being a full-body workout, it targets all the major muscles and gets both of the best worlds of cardio and strength workouts.

Also, short intervals of intense exercise, such as HIIT, can increase cardiac function and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. To put it in other words, the amount of calories you burn after the workout is astonishing.

What to Do in Certain Cases:

Does the rowing machine guarantee maximum safety? Yes, But there are a few things you should be aware of while using rowing machines like the ones discussed below. 

In Case of An Injury: 

If someone is recovering from an injury, typically from joint pain or discomfort, or is looking to build strength without excessive strain, then rowing is the way to go.

It is due to this reason that many top athletes use rowing as an important part of their cross-training or when they are returning to their respective fields from an injury. 

Still, if you have experienced an injury, it is better to consult a doctor so that they may overlook the situation before you jump into something new and unknown. 

In Case of a Back Injury: 

A rowing machine is a safe option till most people maintain a proper form, but as soon as the intensity rises up, people tend to use their lower backs to go against the current. 

As soon as the going gets tough, your body tends to get fatigued easily, causing your lower back to take on the burden that may prove fatal. 

As soon as you lose the strength to maintain the workout through your core, the movement during the workout could lead to a compromised low back. 

It will continue to remain safe when done slowly and carefully, but if you suffer from a past or recent back injury and want to try the workout out, it's best to do it under supervision. 

If You’re New to The Workout: 

As the saying goes, “if you fail at first, try and try again.” 

Rowing isn’t exactly difficult, but it isn’t exactly easy. It’s an acquired skill as it takes a little bit of coordination to get used to, but it is similar to riding a bike. Once you learn to use it efficiently, it’ll be one of the best cardio workouts you could ever get to know about.

Sticking to it if you’re a beginner requires a lot of support surrounding the activity, whether it’s a person from the gym or virtually. 

In the Case of Pregnancy: 

It’s a safe practice until the changing of the body's shape gets in the way of the movement. And as always discussed and advised, do refer to your doctor before experimenting on your body. 


To put it bluntly, a rowing machine can indeed provide a fantastic full-body workout. By engaging multiple groups at once, rowing can help you build your strength, improve the quality of your cardiovascular fitness, and burn calories all in one go. 

Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just starting out on your fitness journey, a rowing machine can be a great addition to your routine. 

Of course, as with any exercise, it’s important to use proper form and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to avoid injury. But with a little dedication and hard work, you can reap the benefits of this challenging and rewarding exercise for years to come. 

So go ahead, grab an oar, and row your way to a stronger and healthier you! 

Healthier and Happier Life is One Step Away.

Get information on health, fitness and wellness with our weekly newsletter.

  • 5 Expert-Approved Fitness Habits That Improve Your Muscular Endurance After 50

    Maintaining muscular endurance and strength as we age is essential for leading an active, healthy, and fulfilling ...

  • 10 Healthiest Habits of People Who Rarely Get Sick

    It's no wonder people search for advice on how to avoid getting sick—it's miserable when you do! We all wish we co...

  • 10 Muscle-Building Meals That You Can Eat Before Bed

    If you're into bodybuilding or just looking to build lean muscle, you know how important nutrition is. What you ea...

  • What Everyone in the Fitness World Needs to Know About Pre-workout Supplements

    Pre-workout supplements are a common choice among people who want to boost their energy levels during exercises. T...

  • Top 7 Proven Ways to Go From Lean to Muscular

    A perfect body with no fat and more muscles is the dream of everyone. However, achieving this dream and bringing i...

  • 7 Practical Things You Can Apply to Make Your Deadlift Easier

    When it comes to an exercise variation that works on all your muscle groups, there is no better answer than doing ...

  • Losing Weight Without Exercise: Strategies and Tips for Success

    Losing weight without exercise is possible, although it may take longer and require extra planning and dedication....

  • Embracing Body Positivity: Nurturing Self-Acceptance on the Path to Personal Growth

    The societal pressure to meet unattainable ideals can take a toll on our self-esteem and overall well-being. Compa...

  • Start your fitness journey today!

    Take an extra 10% off your order.

    reach out

    Toll Free: (833) 366-6733

    5700 Crooks Road, Troy, Michigan 48098

    *By submitting this form you are signing up to receive our emails and can unsubscribe at any time.