Skip to main content

8 reasons why rowing needs to be part of your workout routine

These are the rowing benefits you need to know

Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes are often many people’s go-tos when it comes to cardio equipment. While these machines can certainly be effective, what about the benefits of rowing? Rowing allows you to strengthen your upper body, especially your back, while still challenging your cardiovascular system.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut with your current fitness routine or are interested in taking on the most efficient and effective ways to get in shape, keep reading for a list of the benefits of rowing. Even if you’ve been hesitant to give rowing a try, you may just find yourself rethinking your next workout and swapping your run or spin class for a workout on the rowing machine.

Man using rowing machine for fitness.

Benefits of rowing

The benefits of rowing are extensive, spanning the gamut from improving cardiovascular fitness to achieving better posture. Here are some of the primary health benefits of rowing.

Rowing improves cardiovascular health and fitness

Rowing is an excellent aerobic workout. You’ll get your heart rate elevated and find yourself breathing heavier within just a few minutes. In this way, rowing improves your cardiovascular health and fitness and can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Rowing is a total body workout

A man's strong legs from rowing.
Kyle Kranz/Unsplash

Although many people imagine rowing to be an upper-body exercise, most of the power for the rowing stroke actually comes from your legs. In fact, when looking at the rowing stroke, 60% of the work should be done by the legs, 30% from the core, and just 10% from the upper body. Moreover, studies investigating the muscular recruitment patterns with rowing have found that rowing uses roughly 86% of the muscles in your body, making it a fantastic total-body workout. Rowing strengthens your quads, glutes, core, lats, shoulders, hamstrings, biceps, and calves.

Rowing burns a lot of calories

Man using a rowing machine.

One of the benefits of total-body workouts like rowing is that they burn a lot of calories. By using most of the major muscles in your body, rowing requires a lot of energy and makes for an efficient calorie burn. Additionally, a rowing machine is a great way to get in a challenging high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, which stokes your metabolism and helps your body burn more calories even once you’re done exercising. Try rowing relatively easily for a few minutes to warm up, and then push yourself through hard intervals of 30 to 90 seconds, followed by easy recovery rows.

Rowing is a time-efficient way to exercise

Most of us are super busy these days and don’t have an endless amount of time to dedicate to working out. Therefore, efficiency when it comes to exercise is key. One of the benefits of rowing is that it can provide a cardio and strength training workout simultaneously, saving you time when you have lots of things on your plate. A vigorous 20-minute workout on a rowing machine can be enough to improve your fitness, reduce your risk of lifestyle diseases, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Rowing is a low-impact activity

Concept 2 erg rowing machine.

If you suffer from joint pain, arthritis, or chronic musculoskeletal injuries, rowing may be exactly what you are looking for when it comes to a joint-friendly form of exercise. Rowing is considered a low-impact exercise, like cycling, elliptical trainers, and swimming, so it puts less stress on your joints, bones, and connective tissues than running, jumping, and other high-impact sports. As long as you’re using proper form, the risk of injury on a rowing machine is also very low.

Rowing is calming

Rowing can be quite meditative, and many people find that rowing is a great way to reduce anxiety and induce a sense of peace. The stroke is rhythmic and repetitive, but not in a boring way. Like other forms of exercise, rowing also produces endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that elevate your mood, so you’ll leave your workout feeling happier, calmer, and more confident.

Rowing can improve your posture and core strength

The rowing stroke relies heavily on core activation and control, so it can help you build core strength and improve your posture over time. A strong core can reduce the incidence of low back pain and help prevent injuries. Plus, because good form is crucial with rowing, it’s also a good way to increase your mind-body connection and kinesthetic awareness.

Rowing is motivating

If you’re using a rowing machine, it’s easy to keep track of your metrics and watch how much you’re improving over time. Because rowing is a learned skill, most beginners get to experience significant improvements quickly, which is really motivating. Even if you’ve been using a rowing machine for years, you can continue to challenge yourself and play games in your workouts to see if you can hit new milestones and personal bests, which can keep your mind engaged.

Editors' Recommendations

Amber Sayer
Amber Sayer is a fitness, nutrition, and wellness writer and editor, and was previously a Fitness Editor at Byrdie. She…
The best stylish workout gear to help you stick to your 2023 fitness resolutions
This is the best men's fitness attire to work out in
running workouts fitness jump rope

If you’re reading this by now then that unfortunately means that 85% of individuals who set forth to crush a fitness, health, or wellness goal to start off the year have sadly already admitted defeat. And that's not just fitness, that is all New Year’s Resolutions, of which, an overwhelming number of those are health-related. However, come January 21st, nearly five out of every six that committed have determined to not keep trying to improve themselves.

Hopefully, if you're reading this, maybe, just maybe you are part of the fifteen percent that are still hanging around, determined not to become just another stat casualty. However, maybe you are the larger percent that might have lapsed on crushing your newfound fitness goals, and maybe, just maybe this is what you needed to read to help get back on track.

Read more
The best sandbags for workouts to build upper body strength
The best sandbags for workouts: get buff with a beach in a bag
Rogue Feed Sack.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and gyms everywhere closed, home workout solutions became an overnight necessity. This boom led to shortages in dumbbells, kettlebells, and other home gym equipment, and as a result, the price of workout iron skyrocketed. Accordingly, many fitness enthusiasts began looking for alternatives. For many, workout sandbags provided the solution.

Even before all of this, sandbags were growing in popularity among the fitness community thanks to their ability to deliver an extremely diverse, effective weight training session. By increasing or decreasing the amount of sand, you can enjoy widely varying loads, and the best workout sandbags come equipped with handles and other features in all the right places, lending themselves to a slew of different movements and lifts.

Read more
Ergatta vs. Hydrow: Which rower should you get?
Learn the differences between Ergatta and Hydrow rowers
Hydrow and Ergatta rowing machines.

Sometimes the best thing for your fitness routine is to invest in some at-home equipment. One such piece that more and more people are beginning to invest in is rowing machines. Just a few years ago, it was very rare to hear of someone buying a rowing machine for their home, let alone talking about one. Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes dominated the market for home cardio equipment, with a mere sliver of the sector going to rowing machines. However, between CrossFit and Orange Theory, the popularity of rowing for fitness has taken off, spurring the development of engaging, high-quality rowing machines for home use. Rowing is a fantastic total-body exercise, and although it’s not easy or feasible for most people to get out on a river or lake for a workout, a rowing machine can provide all the benefits of rowing right from the comfort and convenience of your home or gym.
There are quite a few rowing machines on the market nowadays, but two of the clear front runners for the best rowing machines are the Hydrow and the Ergatta. Hydrow and Ergatta have shattered the glass ceiling and elevated their products and user experience exponentially. The Ergatta and the Hydrow are premium home rowing machines, each featuring touchscreens and subscription services. They both are well made and designed to be engaging, effective, and durable. They also have quite a few differences as well.

If you’re looking to buy the best rowing machine for home workouts, you’ll likely end up trying to decide between a Hydrow or Ergatta, so we’ve put the two machines head to head to highlight the ways they are different so that you can choose the best rowing machine for you. Before you check out with your virtual shopping cart, read our thoughts on Ergatta versus Hydrow and make sure you’re setting yourself up for success on the virtual water.

Read more