10 Amazing Health Benefits of Rowing Machine

crossfit rowing benefits

It’s understood that there is some self-enthusiasm that drives you towards your goal of superb health and shape.

That is a great intention to have, but you are probably facing a number of problems along the way. It could be the tremendous struggle of finding new ways to exercise, or a wish to find a suitable workout pattern, or even the inability to do some routines because of your body’s limitations.

Well, in that case, you still have a card up your sleeve and it’s called a rowing machine. This effective equipment has many lesser-known benefits that will have you seeking it out next time you attend your local gym.

1. Great Way to Get Some Good Cardio

If you’re like most people who wants to live a long and happy life, see many places, and wanna achieve many goals, then you need to have a strong health. The two cornerstone elements of well-being are cardiovascular and respiratory health. The simplest example of cardio training is aerobic exercises.

The US heart association recommends to all people practice these type of exercises to prevent heart problems and diseases. The main reason is that cardio exercises train your heart and lungs like weightlifting trains your muscles by enhancing their strength and ability to transfer blood and oxygen.

In addition, it will help lower your blood pressure while keeping your arteries cleaner. All these benefits could be gained with a session on a rowing machine. Don’t concentrate on the endless debates about what cardio machine is the best.

To be honest, it’s more a question of personal preferences. But the benefits of using rowing machines for cardio have been proven scientifically. Studies showed that while oxygen uptake is roughly the same for rowing and cycling, rowing allows you to engage more muscles.

Another research from Japanese scientists highlighted that in comparison with treadmill running, rowing requires a higher oxygen uptake and keeps your heart rate lower. This is worth considering, especially for people who experience some issues with heart health.

Even more, all gym enthusiasts can confirm that treadmills, cycling stations, and other ergometers are always occupied while rowing machines often stay untouched, like a hidden gem in the gym.

Also, you don’t need to invest too much time into it: a simple, moderately paced session of up to 30 minutes, or a more intense session of 10 minutes, a day will do the job.

2. Great Lower Body workout

lower body workout

While the majority will think that rowing is all about working the arms, most of the load comes upon the lower part of the body. A correct rowing technique will help you engage your legs during the start of the sequence, commonly called a “catch”.

The primary muscles in use during this movement stage are quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Some bright minds in France and Canada designed an experiment to study leg performance during rowing. They studied 9 elite rowers in two different types of rowing: moderate and high-intensity rowing. Having analyzed their observations of muscle tension, they concluded that the hamstrings work as a motor during rowing.

Other researchers studied 10 male and 7 female athletes. Their idea was to see which physiological aspect affects rowing the most. After studying results and removing height and weight as a subjective parameter, they came to a conclusion that leg-press most of all determines the results of oarsmen’s performance. Thus you can add a twist to your lower body workout by implementing a rowing machine routine to achieve higher results in leg muscle growth.

3. Fantastic Upper Body Workout

brooke ence rowing

While your legs are instigating the movement, the next phase called “drive” starts. That’s where your upper body kicks in. Starting with the core muscles during a “drive”, followed by your back and hand muscles engagement during the stages of “finish” and “recovery,” these stages make a rowing machine an excellent body-weight workout.

Compared to other ergometers, rowing machines give a unique opportunity to workout your upper body simultaneously with your lower body. Altogether, this type of cardio exercise can mobilize up to 84% of body muscles.

In addition, a research courtesy of Danish researchers revealed that trained rowers have higher arm mobility, arm muscle mass (about 16%), and superior arm blood circulation compared to untrained subjects.

Check Out: 6 Best Home Rowing Machine under $1000

4. Safe Workout for Bones and Joints.

Exercising on a rowing machine is also much safer for your body. Rowing as a sport puts minimal load on your joints, in contrast to other popular workout routines such as running or cycling.

Related: The 5 Best Air Resistance Bikes For Crossfit

This is all thanks to the position of the body: when you row properly and maintain a relaxed body posture, you are at the lowest risk of feeling a negative impact, unlike the resistance integral to running.

Regularly exercising on a rowing machine will grant you better bone and joint health. Researchers claim that sport activities may help prevent some bone related problems like osteoporosis. This is a medical term for the faster aging of bone tissue, and rowing can improve your joint health while having one of the lowest impact loads among body-weight workouts. This exercise is also recommended for rehabilitation after joint surgeries like endoprosthesis of the hip as the safest and most efficient.

Korean researchers found out that rowing could be recommended for visually impaired people. This is because that rowing can contribute to the improvement of posture and help prevent some widespread scoliosis problems, common for people with poor eyesight. Another category of people that can benefit from rowing is the elderly.

Apparently, rowing can prevent muscle degradation. After comparing the physical condition of leg muscle stance in senior oarsmen the scientists found out that the mass and the strength of the leg extensor muscle was much higher in rowers compared to people leading a sedentary lifestyle.

5. Cognitive Bonus

As we have already mentioned, rowing includes four phases. Acquiring a proper rowing technique will take some time for beginners. The complexity of this exercise may seem like a struggle, but it turns out to be another benefit of a rowing machine.

The input of exercises to cognitive abilities was proven by researchers from Brain Injury Research Center, Los Angeles, California. Cognitive abilities include perception, attention, memory, language, and more. Scientists found that those who participate in aerobic exercises, such as rowing, had increased ability to process information due to a positive impact on the central nervous system.

Thanks to the fact that rowing puzzles your mind with understanding and learning a new movement pattern in a proper way gives you an additional cognitive boost.

So if you decided to learn a new language, it’s about time to start exercising on a rowing machine.

6. Excellent Fat Burning Exercise

One of the main reasons why we spend our precious time on workouts is to get rid of fat that we collect during the busier parts of our days. While the majority struggle to wake up early to go for a morning jog or risk their lives trying not to end up under the wheels of a car cycling a bike, you should put your hope into a much safer and merrier fat-burner – a rowing machine.

The mathematics of fat burning is simple, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Since rowing gets almost all body muscles into business, the energy consumption during this exercise is at high.

Smart people from the US found out that rowers on a distance of 2000m consume up to 35 calories per minute which is higher than, say, during running. And it takes from 5 to 8 minutes to row this distance, so the numbers are all for rowing! And other researches established that rowing takes up significantly more energy than cycling. Therefore, a rowing machine will help you burn calories faster than any other cardio exercise.

7. Helps Build Endurance

At this point, it’s pretty clear why. The complexity of full body rowing exercises and their superior cardio gives a huge boost to your endurance. To be more specific, long training on a rowing machine affects your body fluid and mass levels in a positive way, while your blood parameters remain pretty much the same.

The scientists from the University of Alberta, Canada are on board with us, too, with their research on endurance values in rowers. They examined vital signs of rowers on a 2K-meter distance to see how the heart responds to aerobic loads. The results showed that the part of the heart called left ventricular responded with an increment of area and mass – meaning that the heart grew stronger.

Rowing also can teach you to breathe properly as there are special breathing techniques for professional rowers designed for achieving the highest performance. So if you are a fan of running or other active sports you should consider a rowing machine, as it will directly boost your endurance needed for various activities, including competitive sports, marathon running, and sex.

8. Enhancing Mental Health

mental health

Another well-known perk of aerobic exercises is the enhancement of mental strength. First of all, it will help you overcome daily stress, known to most of us. Whether it’s work, where the always grumpy coworkers and unsatisfied boss rubs you the wrong way, or a random driver on your commute who mixed up gas and brakes in front of you, rowing will help you become cool as a cucumber by the end of the day.

A short rowing session will increase the level of β-endorphins in your blood, making you a happy, serene person once again. Modern medicine widely uses aerobic exercises as an addition or an alternative method to ease anxiety or depression. This research shows the relation between oxygen uptake and effects of coping with these disorders. No need to wait when your mood will start going down to join the rowing.

Due to responses in the hippocampus, our brain is more likely to build fresh neuron connections. A strong connection of neurons grants you a higher stress resistance. And as icing on the cake, regular rowing will boost your image of yourself. As you achieve new results in this type of exercise and your body changes for the better you will feel a boost of self-esteem.

9. Versatile Workout Pattern

The secret of valuable workouts on rowing machines lies not only in its ability to train almost all of the muscles in the body.

A rowing ergometer offers you a chance to diversify your workout pattern to your taste. Standard training on rowing machines typically involves a session of 2000 m of rowing for 10 or more minutes. But you are free to adjust training to your demands. You could do longer sessions by choosing a moderate tempo for 15-20 minutes just to experience a higher aerobic load. Or you can raise your bar higher and try to adjust your workout to Olympic standards of rowing in 8 minutes to hit the levels of HIIT training.

For more advanced sport-lovers it’s recommended to combine rowing with sets of exercises such as Squats, Deadlifts and Pull-ups. In conclusion, rowing exercises could be a great addition to your leg-core workout.

10. Affordable Way to Look Great

ana cheri model

Last but certainly not least, rowing machines are affordable. Modern gyms tend to have these ergometers in their armory because of rowing’s growing popularity. And in order to be competitive with other clubs, your local gym probably offers a vast array of training equipment. So you won’t have a problem finding a rowing machine nearby.

When most members head for treadmills, cycles, or elliptical ergometers, rowing machines will be free most of the time. That will give you a chance for a steady workout and the ability to adjust the exercise to your needs. Those who prefer working out at home can enjoy rowing as well. The sports equipment market has great offers on relatively affordable rowing machines.

You can easily find a decent rowing machine below $1000 which, by the way, will be cheaper than a treadmill or an elliptical trainer. Besides, it won’t take much space at your home as most of them have a feature that allows you to store them vertically.

Wrapping Up

Here are the main benefits for using a rowing machine, but we could keep listing its benefits probably to no end. The ultimate goal of becoming a healthy and fit person makes us dig through tons of options. And even though there is no universal formula that will work for everyone and every time, the unique experience of full body workout on a rowing machine can become your preferred option.

What you always have to keep in mind is that every workout routine and every machine requires following the safety precautions, proper techniques, and common sense.

Rowing is no exception: set your mind on a fitting training plan, learn the basics, and row to become a better version of “Yourself”.


  1. American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kidshttps://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
  2. Heart rate is lower during ergometer rowing than during treadmill runninghttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-002-0599-z
  3. Thigh Muscle Activities in Elite Rowers During On-Water Rowing https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0030-1268412
  4. Strength and Power Determinants of Rowing Performancehttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/269037399_Strength_and_Power_Determinants_of_Rowing_Performance
  5. Effect of fitness on arm vascular and metabolic responses to upper body exercisehttps://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpheart.01001.2003
  6. Effects of Indoor Rowing Exercise on the Body Composition and the Scoliosis of Visually Impaired People: A Preliminary Studyhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564707/
  7. The Influence of Exercise on Cognitive Abilitieshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951958/
  8. A comparison of energy expenditure during rowing and cycling ergometryhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3193864