The benefits of rowing machine workouts are numerous and substantial. Delivering excellent cardio benefits, regular workouts on a rowing machine will tone your abs, buttocks, thighs, lower legs and entire upper body. They will also increase your strength and endurance, promote weight loss and more.
One of the first machines made for the home fitness market, the rowing machine has been around since the 1970s. Though the models back then were very basic, providing an efficient and effective workout, they were embraced by fitness and would-be fitness enthusiasts alike.
Fast forward several years to a time when newer and fancier exercise equipment in the form of treadmills, ellipticals, and stair climbers became available. In many instances, the humble rowing machine was then left to gather dust in the garage or storage shed.
Things have come full circle, with indoor rowing machines now back in favor. This is due in large part to advances in technology that have enabled them to simulate the feeling of rowing on water, something we could never have imagined possible back in the old days.
Another reason for the indoor rowing machine’s resurgence is due to the enormous popularity of CrossFit, which incorporates rowing into some of its workouts.
In this article, we will look at the main benefits of rowing machine workouts. Knowing these will help you decide if a rowing machine would be a sound investment for your home gym.
Main Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts
Also going by the name of the ergometer or indoor rower, due to the many fitness and health benefits they deliver, indoor rowing machines, such as those in the Concept 2 rowing machine range, are often used by professional rowers who utilize models that simulate water rowing. Rowing machines are also often the exercise equipment of choice for athletes in various other fields of sport, who use them to cross train.
At this point, you may be thinking that’s all well and good if you’re already fit, but do rowing machine benefits extend to regular people like you and me? The good news is that they do. The rowing machine is, in fact, an excellent choice for anyone who wants to get into better shape, no matter their age or current fitness level.
Following are some of the main benefits of rowing machine workouts:
- Suitable for All
Whether you’re a new exerciser, moderately fit or a seasoned athlete, you can benefit from using a rowing machine.
Rowing machines provide a low-impact form of exercise. Workouts do not stress the bones and joints the way jogging, running, jumping rope and other weight-bearing exercise can. This makes the rowing machine a great option for most people, including seniors. Individuals who are unable to partake in exercise that puts pressure on their back, hips, knees or ankles due to joint pain, can often use a rowing machine.
The rowing machine is, in fact, one of the safest pieces of exercise equipment you will find. This is both due to it being low-impact and because the exerciser is seated close to ground level during workouts. When used correctly (see video below) the likelihood of an injury or accident occurring while working out on a rowing machine is very low.
* While not weight-bearing, the movement of rowing is repetitive. With constant repetition against resistance, comes the risk of joint stress. To prevent this, always use correct form and don not work at a resistance level that is beyond your ability.
Video Demonstrating the Correct Way to Use a Rowing Machine
- Works the Entire Body
As with rowing on water, the rowing machine exercises all of the body’s major muscle groups. Most have seats that move back and forth as the exerciser works out. The push/pull motion required to move the seat involves a full range of motion that engages all of the muscles from the shoulders to the chest, back, core and obliques, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
The better rowing machines have resistance that can be adjusted to provide a tougher or easier workout, customizable to the user’s fitness level. While rowing machines with adjustable resistance usually cost more than those with set resistance, if you would like to experience the ultimate benefits of rowing machine workouts both now and in the future when you are fitter, it’s worth paying extra for one of these.
- Delivers Aerobic Benefits
The aerobic benefits of rowing machine workouts are indisputable. Aerobic exercise such as that the rowing machine delivers necessitates that our bodies use oxygen to enable our muscles to function.
When using a rowing machine, our entire body is in perpetual motion for an extended period. This constant movement elevates our heart rate, forcing us to take deeper and more frequent breaths. Oxygen taken in during this process is transmitted to the muscles, enabling them to function.
With regular rowing workouts, you will benefit aerobically. And, over time, you will be able to stay active for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued.
- Delivers Anaerobic Benefits
The resistance required to use a rowing machine provides several anaerobic benefits, the main one being increased lean muscle mass.
Building muscle requires energy. In other words, it burns calories. People with lean muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate, so they burn more calories than individuals with excess body fat. This is the case not only when they are exercising, but for hours afterward, even when they are inactive.
Other anaerobic benefits include improved cardio and respiratory function and increased stamina and endurance. Each of these is an important indicator of fitness.
- Promotes Weight Loss
Another of the benefits of rowing machine workouts is that they burn a lot of calories. This is due to the workouts being a combination of resistance training (anaerobic exercise) and cardio (aerobic exercise).
On average, the number of calories burned during an hour of indoor rowing is 600. The exact number will differ, depending upon a few factors. These include the exerciser’s weight, how much effort they put in and how long they spend rowing. To maximize calorie burn, work at a high level of resistance and aim for 20 to 25 strokes per minute.
Including Interval Training in your rowing sessions will increase the number of calories you burn. An example of interval training is to row briskly for three minutes, slow to a moderate pace for one minute, increase your speed again for three minutes, then ease back again for one minute. Alternate your speed in this fashion for the duration of your workout.
When starting out, you will only be able to do this for a short period before having to rest. As your fitness improves, you will be able to do longer sessions before needing to take a break. Do this consistently, and it won’t be that long before you can row non-stop for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Increases Endurance and Flexibility
Rowing machine benefits include increased endurance and flexibility.
By rowing at a brisk pace three to four times a week for around thirty minutes to one hour, you will strengthen your muscles and increase your muscular endurance. With endurance comes a number of benefits, including more energy. With more energy, you will be able to push that little bit harder and further and so continue to improve your fitness.
Rowing machine workouts engage all of the body’s major joints and muscles in a full range of motion. Regular sessions done over time leads to a marked increase in flexibility. People who are flexible have better posture, so usually appear younger than their counterparts who don’t exercise.
According to the Mayo Clinic, flexible hips and upper legs combined with strong abdominal and back muscles offers protection against back pain. Flexible people are also less prone to injury than those who are inflexible.
- Provides Health Benefits
Possible health benefits of regular cardio exercise such as that you will get on a rowing machine, include a reduced risk of developing coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Additionally, people who regularly exercise and keep their weight in check reduce their chance of having a stroke attack or developing high blood pressure.
Fit people have better muscle tone. They are usually stronger and have better balance than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Combined, these benefits equate to less likelihood of falling, which can have a devastating outcome for senior folk in particular. While this may not be an issue for you now, it may be in ten or twenty years time. It’s never too early – or too late – to start working out.
Other health benefits of regular exercise include a happier frame of mind, more restful sleep and less tendency towards depression.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts
If you’re looking for an efficient, low-impact workout that will shape and tone your body from head to toe, help you lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health and flexibility and build your stamina, strength, and endurance, it’s hard to go past rowing machine workouts.
The fitness and health benefits of rowing machine workouts can be experienced by anyone, regardless of age or fitness level. And with various types and models to choose from in a wide range of prices, there’s a rowing machine for everyone.
Click the following link to read reviews of some of my favorite rowing machines, or click the last link on this page to shop for rowing machines on Amazon.