What Are The Benefits Of Using A Rowing Machine?

Over the last few years, rowing has seen a dramatic increase in popularity. Not only are there now studios open around the world dedicated to rowing, but many gyms are now also running group rowing classes.

There are also many water rowing machines available on the market that can then be used at home.

Rowing machines provide an efficient and adaptable workout to just about anyone at any age and fitness level. But what are the key benefits of this type of exercise equipment that make it so good?

Read on to find out more.

1. It Targets The Major Muscle Groups

People tend to think that the rowing machine only provides a challenging workout for the arms. But that isn’t the case! Each time you use one of these machines you will be working the muscles across your entire body.

A rowing machine is essentially a horizontal version of the deadlift as it forces you to use similar muscles to drive yourself back and forth. A single rowing stroke can target up to nine separate muscle groups. This makes it excellent for muscle toning!

A single session on the rowing machine will target your core, your back, your glutes, and all of your leg muscles (hamstrings, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, and soleus.) When you are rowing, the movement also targets several major muscle groups in your arms (the biceps and triceps).

2. It Can Be Great For Your Mental Health

Any type of exercise can be great for your mental health. It requires you to physically exert yourself to block out major distractions and ensure you are in the moment and focused on what you are doing.

Whenever you exercise your body releases endorphins. These are chemicals that interact with receptors in the brain that act as natural painkillers and also trigger a feeling of happiness.

Even a short 10-minute burst of rowing will increase your energy, ensure mental alertness, and instill more of a positive mood. Using a rowing machine is also a natural and highly effective way of treating anxiety.

As you use a rowing machine, you can use the time exercising to develop your mindfulness, reduce stress levels, and improve your concentration as you go.

3.  It’s Ideal For All Fitness Levels

Using a rowing machine is a safe and straightforward exercise for virtually everyone regardless of their fitness level. It can meet you exactly where you are in terms of your fitness, so you won’t need to strain yourself to get an effective workout in!

Novices and Olympians can be rowing side by side at completely different intensities but still get an excellent workout and have fun at the same time.

Not only can people of all fitness levels use rowing machines, but they have also been deemed a safe exercise for individuals with low vision or those who are blind. This is something that isn’t common with gym equipment.

As long as you can access an ergometer, you can add using a rowing machine into your exercise routine!

4.  It Provides A Low Impact Workout

Contrary to what you may think about rowing machines, they can make for a great low-impact exercise routine!

There isn’t any jumping or running involved which means you won’t have the opportunity to jam your joints or damage major muscles. The overall effect of using a rowing machine depends on how you use it.

Simply, rowing machines can provide vigorous or moderate-intensity workouts depending on the level of resistance that you set the machine to, the pace of your rowing, and your fitness level. Sticking with a level that works relative to your fitness level is always an excellent idea!

One thing you must remain aware of is that rowing machines can be strenuous at times. Because you are working the muscles all over your body, you can expect to feel some level of resistance from your body.

5.  It Can Be Great For Bone Health

Though rowing machines provide a low-impact exercise routine for your body, this doesn’t mean it won’t positively affect your bone density! Like weightlifting, rowing machines can provide lots of benefits for your bone mineral density throughout your entire body, femur, and lumbar spine.

If you have any concerns or worries about your joints, implementing a rowing machine into your workouts can work to strengthen your bones and build the muscle surrounding them — without putting them at risk!

Using a rowing machine is also great for people with Osteoporosis. This bone-weakening disease makes bones more fragile and far more susceptible to breaking. Using a rowing machine if you have this condition could build bone strength without placing additional stress onto the cartilage that is generally caused by running.

6.  It Can Improve Grip Strength

Whether you’re a complete novice at rowing or have been doing it for years, you will always want to ensure that your hand position and grip are just right to get the most out of your workout.

When you use a rowing machine, you are usually holding handles and pulling yourself back and forth repeatedly. This particular movement is great as it targets and strengthens the core muscles in your hands and forearms with each stroke.

Even a looser grip on the handle (which is much better for technique) can result in a dramatic increase in grip strength! Gripping the handles too hard can result in terrible form, repetitive use injuries in your shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and might even cause excessive joint strain!

7.  It Is Very Time Efficient

Rowing works lots of muscles and burns lots of calories all at the same time, meaning it’s very time efficient. Depending on the type of workout you’re looking for, you will begin to feel the exertion from the first few strokes you make on the machine.

Unlike weightlifting or other forms of cardio, you can achieve an effective training session in under 20 minutes, especially if you are a beginner to the exercise and are introducing your body to new things.

Start by working out for a few minutes and then gradually begin to increase this time each additional session that you have. You might feel the results sooner than you anticipated with this sort of exercise.

If you are progressive with your experience on the rowing machine then you’ll likely find yourself doing more higher-intensity workouts and rowing for longer distances in no time at all!

8.  It Can Burn Lots Of Calories

As we have stated, rowing is an increasingly efficient way of burning calories — especially if you don’t have a lot of spare time to dedicate to exercising. These machines are used to help people around the world to reach their fitness goals.

If your goal is solely to lose weight then you should head directly for the rowing machine, or at least dedicate a portion of your exercising routine to using it.

It’s been said that dedicating 30 minutes to an indoor rowing machine could help you to burn up to 300 calories! Now that is an impressive number! The calories you burn depend on your weight and the intensity of the workout that you are completing.

9.  It Is Very Adaptable

Unlike a treadmill where you have partial control of the speed and incline, using a rowing machine puts you directly into the driving seat. The machine responds to the strength of your grip and the way you push and pull. This means you can work as little or as much as you want, for whatever time you have available.

Whatever type of workout you are looking for, the rowing machine can more than deliver! If you want a steady exercise session then you can consider lowering the number of strokes per minute and staying on the machine for longer.

But if you want more intensity, try interspersing short bursts of movement with maximum effort and some little rest breaks in between.

10.  Good For Cross-Training For Other Sports

The final benefit of using a rowing machine is that it can be a powerful cross-training tool that can build strength, endurance, and speed while preventing major injuries from occurring. This will help you to build up your fitness to then go out and tackle various other forms of vigorous exercise.

You will have to know how to effectively use a rowing machine to reap the benefits and complete cross-training, but the overall effects are more than worth it!

Whatever your primary discipline is, you won’t struggle to find a rowing machine to support your cross-training. Whatever your focus is in terms of your fitness, you can experiment with various workouts using the rowing machine to build up your strength and stamina.


These are 10 fantastic benefits of using a rowing machine, whether you’re at the gym or working out from the comfort of your home. You are also in complete control of your exercise routine at all times.

Wherever you are and whenever you choose to use a rowing machine, you can expect an efficient and effective workout!

Jessica Carter
Jessica Carter
Jessica is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and holds a Masters degree in physical therapy from the University of British Columbia. She has been working in the field for 5 years and writes as a freelance about all things fitness related.