Everything You Need to Know About Rowing Machines

Everything You Need to Know About Rowing Machines

For years, the rowing machine was considered a dusty artifact of those old-timey movies where swell guys threw the pigskin around while wearing leather helmets. Flash forward several decades, and today we know that rowing is still one of the best things you can do for your body.

Rowing is a low-impact cardio exercise that’s easier on the joints than running. At the same time, it couldn’t be a more efficient workout. Because it hammers both the upper and lower body, it can burn tons of calories and is extremely effective losing weight, developing strength, and building stamina. Read on for your guide to everything you need to know about rowing machines and rowing workouts.


What Is a Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine is a piece of exercise equipment that simulates the motion of rowing a boat—specifically a scull. In a seated position, you pull back a bar (or a pair of arms) while sliding backward on the seat. The intensity of your workout can be varied by adjusting the resistance on the bar, or by rowing faster. Most rowing machines have digital counters that show you how many strokes you’ve rowed, the equivalent distance (usually in meters), the duration of your workout, and more.

“The rower is a non-impact cardiovascular machine that mimics the same posterior chain coupling and motion needed for exercises like the deadlift,” says James Shapiro, NASM, a certified personal trainer and owner of Primal Power Fitness in New York City. “It incorporates knee extension and hip flexion. At the end of the motion, when you pull the handles towards your chest, you’re actively engaging the posterior deltoids, rhomboids and lats.”


Rowing Machine Exercises

rowing machine workout

Just like on a treadmill, you can do a steady-state workout (meaning you stay at a consistent pace for a predetermined amount of time, often 20 or 30 minutes) — or you can do a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session.


Rowing Machine Benefits

Although rowing might seem like an arm-specific workout at first, it also works your legs (trust us, you’ll feel it in the best way), upper back, and abs, providing a satisfying cardiovascular burn. And because it engages muscles from head to toe — with minimal impact on your joints — it can be more effective fat-burning exercise than running.


Calories Burned on a Rowing Machine

Because it works so many muscle groups, rowing is an incredibly efficient exercise in terms of calorie burn. How many calories can you burn on a rowing machine? That’s dependent on a few different factors, including

• Your weight and body composition

• Duration of exercise

• Exercise intensity

• Genetics

• Fitness level

Rowing vigorously will give you more bang for your caloric buck, although it might be challenging at first. Check out our guide to how many calories you can burn on a rowing machine.

Best Rowing Machines To Buy

Sunny Health & Fitness - SFRW5515 - Rowing Machine
Are you sold on a rowing machine and want to add one to your home?

There’s a huge spectrum of rowing machines on the market, ranging from just over $100 to Bezos-budget level.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to the best home rowing machines to buy for less than $500, plus a few worth the extra money.