All about Rowing machines: 25 questions answered

all about rowing benefits


A rowing machine is a beautiful piece of equipment that is capable of transforming the body from top to bottom.

Most of the fitness equipments are designed to serve a specific purpose, rowing puts your whole body on work to get the cardiovascular conditioning and strength gains all at the same time. 

Rowing is an amazing workout that trains over 9 major muscle groups with every stroke. Additionally, rowing is a low impact form of workout that allows you to go high intensity without being worried about acute soreness or injury. 

Let’s skip the introduction and jump directly to the commonly asked questions. 

Rowing Machine: 25 Most Frequent Questions

Since we have been getting lot of questions about rowing machine, I will try my best to answer every question with accurate answers. 

1- What’s a rowing machine good for? 

A rowing machine is an excellent workout tool that will help you train the major muscle groups while developing excellent heart conditioning

As we have discussed earlier, rowing targets 9 prominent muscle groups of the body that helps in burning down tons of calories while gaining strength. It’s a low-impact workout which makes it a perfect workout solution for every age group. 

A regular rowing workout will help you torch stubborn fat, improve upper body strength, tone-up thigh, prevent joint pain, strengthen posterior chain, improved muscle endurance, and better posture. There is no other machine that can provide these vast variety of benefits. 

Even our beloved Hugh Jackman aka  X-Men’s Wolverine credits rowing workout to keep him stay lean in his 50’s. 

2- How does the rowing machine works?

 A rowing machine mimics the action of watercraft rowing which has been a professional sport.  

Different types of machines work on a different kind of resistance, some machines use magnetic fields and others uses water resistance. 

3- Rowing machine types?

As the rowers are gaining popularity around the world, you might find many different kinds of rowers. The most common type of rowers you might find are: 

  • Magnetic rower: These are the most silent rowers which make them perfect for home needs. They are surely a cost-effective solution to home cardio. 
  • Hydraulic rower: piston rowers: These are the most affordable rowers that can help you train the whole body without spending lot of money. 
  • Air rower: Air rowers are commonly used by CrossFit athletes as a part of the training program. As the name suggests, air rowers use air as a form of resistance and work really well to provide the optimum conditioning. Air rowers might be the noisiest of all other rowers but still one of my favorites because of higher quality and durability. 
  • Water Rower: Water rowers are smooth, elegant and the priciest type of rower. These rowers have a water tank in front of the machine to provide resistance through the water. 

4- How the rowing machine helps your body?

A rowing machine will help your body in many different ways, Let’s have a look the benefits of rowing machine: 

  • Cardiovascular endurance: unlike low-intensity steady-state cardio, rowing provides high-intensity cardiovascular conditioning and strengthens the heart and lungs to function better. It also improves your heart VO2 max by increasing the stroke volume.
  • Muscular endurance: Rowing for 15 min straight will make your muscles scream for mercy. It increases muscular endurance by improving the body’s ability to clear lactic buildup. 
  • Strong posterior chain: Strong posterior chain is a foundation of a healthy body and regular rowing can help you achieve that. Rowing engages almost every back muscle which helps in improving the functional capability. 
  • Legs strengthening: whether you are recovering from injury or old enough to do the barbell squats, a rowing machine can help you strengthen and tone legs without putting extreme pressure. 
  • Low impact: Proper rowing involves the coordination of major muscle groups which reduces the impact of any particular muscle group. Being low in impact makes is a feasible fitness solution to all the age groups.  
  • Fat burning: Rowing facilitates intense fat burning that can not be compared with any other cardio workout. 
  • Better posture: sedentary lifestyle and the 8-hours job has made a negative effect on posture. Poor posture is getting more common in the current generation because of long sitting jobs. Rowing at least 15-mins on a daily basis will strengthen all the required muscles to improve your posture. 

5- How accurate are rowing machine calorie counters? 

rowing machine calorie caltulator

You should not rely on the calorie count of most rowing machines since they provide the data based on the very basic details. 

Your calorie-burning depends on multiple factors like your gender, age, weight, body type, metabolic rate, hormonal balance, the intensity of the workout, and many other factors. Additionally, Rowing is a part of High-intensity training which also provides the after-burn effect, which means your body burns more calories even after hours of workout.  

In short, You should not take the numbers too seriously, but you can take them as a baseline of training. So if you burn 300 calories today then you can target 320 calories in the next session. 

6- Are rowing machines good for cardio?

You can definitely swap other forms of cardio with the rowing machine. Low-intensity cardio will only help in burning calories but a good rowing session will help you burn tons of calories while strengthening major muscle groups. 

Rowing will improve your VO2 Max and stroke volume of blood. VO2 max is the maximum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise, higher VO2 max results in better performance. Maximum stroke volume is your heart’s ability to pump blood with every stroke, higher stroke volume means your heart gets more efficient in pumping blood.  

7- Rowing machine vs elliptical?

If you ask a group of people to choose between rowing or elliptical for cardio; 8 out of 10 will choose elliptical. Because elliptical doesn’t push you them of their comfort zone but rowing machine will.

Ellipticals are good for low-intensity cardio and to tone up legs but can not be compared with the rowing machine. Elliptical will not help in strengthening muscle while burning calories. 

If you are looking for a  best home cardio solution then I would recommend you buy a rowing machine over elliptical. Rowing machine is hard to train in the beginning but will make you fall in love after a few weeks of training. 

8- Rowing machine HIIT

Interval training is the best form of cardio that not only burns tons of calories but also helps in preserving muscle mass. 

I personally love Tabata style training with the rowing machine, here is how to do it: 

  • Start with 2-3 minutes of warmup session with slow speed rows.
  • Now row for 20 seconds at maximum efforts
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Repeat the cycle for 8 times or 4-minutes. 
  • Take 2 min break. 
  • Repeat the cycle if required. 

9- Rowing machine for beginners Tips

10- Are rowing machines good for seniors

Rowing machines are safe enough for seniors if you are not suffering from chronic health issues. 

Rowing is relatively easy on joints and resistance levels can be altered to support all strength levels. 

Its full-body engagement makes it one of the best workout tools for seniors. 

11- Can rowing machines build muscle?

It will surely help you strengthen Forearms, biceps, rear delts, traps, lats, lower back, calves, quads, glutes, and core. 

Improvement in strength and a high protein diet will definitely help you built a muscular physique with a low-fat percentage. 

12- Can rowing machines help lose weight? 

It’s one of the most time-efficient ways to lose weight. A 20-30 minute of high-intensity rowing can help you burn hundreds of calories and also keeps the metabolic rate elevated for the rest of the day. Additionally, Rowing primarily targets the core and upper back which helps you achieve a lean V-tapper look. 

13- Can rowing machine replace running

If your goal is to burn calories than rowing can surely replace running by helping you burn more calories in a shorter period of time. 

If your goal is to lose belly fat than rowing can surely replace running by targeting your mid secession more efficiently. 

If your goal is to achieve a toned lower body then rowing can surely replace running by providing full-body strength and toning. 

In short, the Rowing machine is definitely a better option than running. 

14- Can rowing machine help lose belly fat

all about rowing machine

I don’t support the concept of “spot-fixing”, if you keep your body in caloric deficit then rowing is one of the most prominent ways to trim the fat around the belly. 

Your core is a primary stabilizer muscle group that stays active throughout the rowing session. 

15- Can rowing machines cause back pain

Rowing is a low impact workout but might cause back pain due to wrong form and techniques. 

Rowing involves the coordination of multiple muscle groups and many people seem to do the pulling work with the upper body and eliminate the legs.  

Keeping the core tight and back straight while the whole workout will ensure a pain-free experience. If you still experience acute back pain then you should definitely consult a professional. 

16- Do rowing machines work your arms

Yes, It does works on your arms. Throughout the whole session of rowing, your grip, forearms, and arms work extensively to do the pulling movement.

After a good session of rowing, do you feel the burning sensation in your forearms, grip, and biceps? I know you can feel it. 

Rowing machine won’t give you 22 inches biceps but it will surely improve the muscle density, forearm size, and grip strength. 

17- Do rowing machines work your abs

Many people can’t seem to feel the involvement of their abs while rowing but that does not mean that your abs are not involved. 

Your abs work as a primary stabilizer throughout the movement which not only helps in trimming down stubborn fat around the belly but also helps you develop the stronger and well-defined core. 

Why some rowers still don’t have abs? Because a lot of them are either consuming too many calories on a daily basis or they are not engaging their core while rowing. 

Applying thermogenic gel around the core area is an effective hack to increase core engagement. 

18- Will a rowing machine help with pullups?

Definitly. Regular rowing will surely help you will pullups

Rowing targets your lats, traps, posterior delts, arms to help you with pullups and chin-ups. 

Few weeks of regular rowing training will surely make you feel the difference. Use resistance bands as supporter until you develop the basic strength to complete first few pullups. 

19- how long should rowing machine be used

That depends on your physical conditioning and target goals. 

If you are a newbie then you should target 4-5 sets of 50 strokes. If you are an experienced lifter with good cardiovascular strength and muscular endurance then you can push yourself for a 20 min session. 

20-30 minutes session of rowing should be enough to maintain optimum body composition and strength. 

20- Should I use rowing machine daily 

Rowing on a daily basis can be quite taxing on the body. If you are a beginner then you should opt for alternate day rowing, which will allow your body optimum time to recover. 

It’s okay to do the rowing on a daily basis once you find yourself comfortable with it. 

21- Should I buy a rowing machine or treadmill

That totally depends on personal preference. 

I am someone who never liked long-running sessions so I would choose the rowing over the treadmill. 

A treadmill will help you lose weight and strengthen the cardiovascular system. But rowing machine will help you strengthen the whole body while torching stored fat. 

If you are always short in time to stay healthy then rowing is a better choice. Additionally, rowing machines are compact and don’t require a lot of maintenance or electric bills.  

22- When to do the rowing?

Rowing is a high-intensity workout that will leave you drained, it should always be done at a workout finisher.

If you are into weight training then it’s not a good idea to do the rowing before lifting weights, it will seriously restrict your ability to lift heavyweight. 

You can do it in the morning or evening as per your personal preference, just make sure to have some BCAA and electrolytes ready to replenish the lost energy. 

23- Rowing machine during pregnancy

Your doctor is the best person to answer that question. Usually, it’s okay to do the low-intensity rowing while pregnancy but should not be done without the doctor’s advice. 

24- Are rowing machines worth it? 

Yes, buying a rowing machine for a home gym is worth every penny. It’s a one-stop solution that will help you develop decent strength, improve cardiovascular endurance, improves heart health, and promotes joint health too. 

A rowing machine requires lesser storage space and won’t require frequent maintenance. 

Hey guys thanks for reading. We worked really hard to compile this article, your feedback will be highly appreciated.

Questions are welcomed in the comments as always. This site contains affiliate links as well as general health and fitness information. Please read my Medical Disclaimer and Writing Disclaimer for more information. 

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