Benefits of using a rowing machine

Updated March 23, 2017

Rowing machines provide a cardiovascular workout by increasing the heart rate. At the same time, exercise on a rowing machine works out all major muscle groups, including the arms and legs, back and abdominal muscles. Rowing is relatively simple to learn and requires little or no training. Machines are available in a variety of sizes to fit most spaces and budgets. The vast majority of gyms and health clubs include rowing machines in their line-up of workout equipment.


The heart and lungs can benefit from regular workouts on a rowing machine. Sessions of 10 minutes or more at a steady pace will improve blood flow and strengthen the heart. Lung capacity improves as the tempo is increased and breathing becomes a little laboured, providing a healthy workout for the circulatory and respiratory systems.

Weight Loss

The rowing machine can be a useful addition to a weight-loss exercise program. Properly executed, it easily can be done for long periods, providing an aerobic workout that burns fat. At the same time, rowing can be adjusted to meet other demands, such as speeding up the tempo to move the body into an anaerobic state that will increase metabolism and help sustain the fat-burning progress after the exercise is complete.


Rowing machines offer a total workout for the muscles. Light weight resistance helps to tone muscles; increased weight can help to build muscle mass. The pulling motion executed on a rowing machine works the back muscles, chest, abs and arms. The reverse pushing works muscles in the legs, hips and lower body. It is important to maintain proper posture while rowing and not place too much stress on any one part of the body to avoid injury. For instance, the neck should never be involved in the pulling process, and the feet should have a good, flat surface on which to push to alleviate any extra pressure on sensitive ankle and shin tendons.


Athletes in a number of different sports activities use the skills and muscles developed from using a rowing machine. Boat rowers, whether they compete or just enjoy being on the water, use rowing machines in the off season to train. Rowing machines are a good adjunct for athletes who participate in sports that are hard on the joints, such as running, basketball and skiing. Athletes who do sports that require balance and coordination, such as hockey and martial arts, can benefit from rowing because of the rhythm associated with the exercise and the coordination developed during the process.


Back strain is the most frequent injury that occurs on rowing machines. Either the person training goes too fast or sets the weight resistance too high. Increases in speed and weight should be added gradually as the body adjusts to the workout. While pain is often associated with muscle growth, pain also is a signal that something is wrong. Listen to the body's warning system when rowing to avoid serious back strain or permanent back injuries.

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About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."