Are Rowing Machines Effective?

Are you looking for a great way to stay active and fit while having fun? Then look no further than rowing machines! Rowing machines are becoming increasingly popular, and for a good reason – they offer an incredible full-body workout with many health benefits. But just how effective are these machines? In this blog post, we’ll explore the potential benefits of using a rowing machine — from improved cardiovascular fitness to increased calorie burning — and some tips for getting the most out of your rowing machine. So buckle up, teachers; get ready to learn what makes rowers such an amazing choice for staying fit!

1. Introducing Rowing Machines – The Basics of This Exercise Equipment 

A rowing machine, often found in gyms and home workout spaces, is a powerful piece of exercise equipment designed to simulate the action of rowing a boat. Its purpose is not only to help you stay fit, but also to boost your stamina, strength, and cardiovascular health.

What is a Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine, also known as an ergometer or “erg,” replicates the body movements of rowing a boat, providing a full-body workout. The machine has a seat that moves back and forth along a track, handlebars for pulling, and a flywheel at the front which provides the resistance.

How Does It Work?

When you use a rowing machine, you engage both your upper and lower body. The workout begins when you push back using your legs, then pull the handlebar towards your chest, and finally return to the starting position. This process, known as the “catch-drive-recovery” sequence, engages your legs, core, back, arms, and shoulders – making it a comprehensive full-body workout.

Types of Rowing Machines

There are four main types of rowing machines, categorized by the type of resistance they offer: air, hydraulic, magnetic, and water. Each type has its own set of advantages and drawbacks:

  1. Air Rowing Machines: These work on the principle of air resistance. The harder you row, the more resistance you’ll feel.
  2. Hydraulic Rowing Machines: These use cylinders filled with oil to create resistance. They’re typically quieter and more compact than other types.
  3. Magnetic Rowing Machines: These use a magnetic brake system to create resistance, offering a smooth and virtually silent operation.
  4. Water Rowing Machines: These replicate the actual rowing experience most closely by using water-filled flywheels to generate resistance.

Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines provide a range of health benefits. They offer an efficient, high-intensity, low-impact workout that can improve cardiovascular health, build muscle strength, enhance endurance, and even aid in weight loss. Moreover, since rowing involves a fluid movement with no jarring impact on the joints, it’s suitable for people of all fitness levels.

A rowing machine is an effective and versatile piece of exercise equipment that offers a whole-body workout. Whether your goal is to get fit, lose weight, or improve your overall physical health, a rowing machine can be an excellent addition to your workout routine.

2. Benefits of Rowing Machines – Total Body Workout and More 

A rowing machine is a versatile fitness equipment offering numerous health and fitness benefits. Simulating the action of rowing a boat provides a comprehensive workout that targets multiple muscle groups and enhances cardiovascular health. Let’s delve deeper into the advantages of using a rowing machine for your workouts.

Full-Body Workout

One of the key benefits of a rowing machine is its ability to provide a full-body workout. It targets both upper and lower body muscle groups, including your back, shoulders, arms, core, and legs. This comprehensive approach helps to ensure balanced muscle development and overall fitness.

Cardiovascular Health

Rowing is an aerobic exercise, meaning it gets your heart pumping and blood flowing. Regularly using a rowing machine can help to improve your cardiovascular health, boosting your heart’s efficiency and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Low Impact

Unlike running or other high-impact exercises, rowing is gentle on your joints, making it a great option for those with knee or ankle issues. The smooth, gliding motion of rowing reduces the risk of injuries while still providing a high-intensity workout.

Calorie Burning

Rowing is a highly efficient way to burn calories. Depending on the intensity of your workout and your body weight, you can burn between 200-600 calories in an hour. This makes rowing an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Improved Endurance and Stamina

The sustained effort required in rowing helps to build endurance and stamina. As you progress in your training and gradually increase the duration or intensity of your workouts, you’ll notice improved energy levels in your daily activities.


Finally, a rowing machine is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment. You can adjust the resistance and speed to suit your fitness level and goals, whether you’re looking for a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session or a steady, low-intensity workout.

3. How to Use a Rowing Machine – A Step-by-Step Guide 

Using a rowing machine can seem intimidating at first, but once you understand the correct form and technique, it can become an integral part of your fitness routine. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a rowing machine effectively.

Step 1: Adjust the Foot Straps

Start by adjusting the foot straps. Place your feet in the footrests and secure them with the straps. Your feet should be flat, and the straps should go across the widest part of your foot.

Step 2: Understand the Handle and Display

Next, familiarize yourself with the handle and the display. The handle should be held with an overhand grip. The display will show you various metrics during your workout, such as distance rowed, calories burned, and stroke rate.

Step 3: Learn the Basic Rowing Motion

The basic rowing motion consists of the catch, the drive, and the recovery.

The Catch: This is your starting position. Sit tall with your knees bent, shins vertical, and arms reaching forward to hold the handle.

The Drive: Push back using your legs first, then lean back slightly (about 45 degrees) and pull the handle to your chest just below the breastbone. Ensure your back is straight and not hunched.

The Recovery: Extend your arms, hinge forward from the hips, and bend your knees to the catch position.

Step 4: Start Rowing

Now that you know the basic motion, start rowing. Begin with short, slow strokes to warm up, gradually lengthening and increasing the speed of your strokes as your muscles warm up.

Step 5: Maintain Proper Form

Always maintain proper form to prevent injuries. Keep your back straight, your core engaged, and ensure that your movements are smooth and controlled. Avoid hunching your shoulders or pulling too hard with your arms.

Step 6: Cool Down

After your workout, spend a few minutes rowing slowly to cool down. Stretch your muscles to prevent stiffness and improve flexibility.

Remember, like any new exercise, getting used to the movements and building up your stamina may take some time. Starting with shorter sessions and gradually increasing your time can help you adjust to this full-body workout. A rowing machine can help you achieve your fitness goals with consistency and proper technique.

4. Types of Rowing Machines – Learn the Different Variations 

Rowing machines, while all designed to simulate the action of rowing a boat, come in various types based on the kind of resistance they provide. Understanding these different variations can help you choose the right machine for your fitness goals and preferences. Here are the four main types of rowing machines:

1. Air Rowing Machines

Air rowing machines use a flywheel to create resistance. As you pull the handle, you spin the flywheel, and the air resistance provides a smooth and natural rowing motion. The harder you row, the greater the resistance. These machines are commonly used in gyms and professional rowing training due to their capacity for high-intensity workouts.

2. Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Hydraulic rowing machines generate resistance with one or two hydraulic pistons. You can usually adjust the resistance level on these machines. They are typically more compact and budget-friendly than other types, making them a popular choice for home use. However, the rowing motion may not feel as fluid as with other types.

3. Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowing machines use magnetic resistance for a quiet and smooth workout. The resistance is adjustable, allowing you to change the intensity of your exercise. These machines offer a consistent tension throughout the rowing motion, making them great for steady, rhythmic workouts.

4. Water Rowing Machines

Water rowing machines replicate the feeling of outdoor rowing most closely. They use a water-filled flywheel to generate resistance. The sound of the moving water adds to the realistic rowing experience. Like air rowers, the resistance is determined by your rowing speed—the faster you row, the harder the resistance.

Each type of rowing machine has its own unique benefits and potential drawbacks. Your choice will depend on various factors such as your budget, available space, fitness goals, and personal preference for the rowing feel. Test out different types if possible to find the one that suits you best. Remember, the best rowing machine is the one that you will enjoy using regularly!

Rowing machines can be an effective means of exercise, but it takes consistency and proper form to make the most out of each session. If you’re looking for an effective way to break out of your current workout routine or want to easily increase your body’s performance, adding a rowing machine into the mix may be a great option.

To ensure that you are using the machine in its intended manner and getting the utmost benefit it offers, always practice proper form and if possible, work with an experienced rower or instructor before trying it on your own. With all that said, why not give rowing a try? You can regret having tried something new, but you’ll never regret giving it a shot! For more helpful fitness advice, be sure to check out our other articles right here at FitnessFocus!