March 8


Why the Rowing Machine Deserves a Place in Your Home Gym

When you’re putting together a home gym you have to make choices. Free weights or a multi-gym? Resistance bands or cables? When it comes to cardio, most of us have only enough space and money for just one piece of equipment. So, what should you go for … a treadmill, bike, stepper? In this article, we make the case as to why the rowing machine deserves to be your number one choice of cardio equipment.

Full Body Workout

Most cardio machines focus on working the muscles of your lower body. When you start using a rowing machine, however, you are engaging both upper and lower body muscles. Every stroke will activate the following muscle groups …

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Erector Spinae
  • Pectorals
  • Biceps
  • Deltoids
  • Abdominals
  • Obliques

That makes rowing a far more efficient form of exercise than other cardio options such as running on a treadmill. Even though it is primarily an aerobic activity, the anaerobic benefits to the muscles of your body that you get from rowing are unequaled by any other home cardio machine choice. Not to mention there’s a wide variety of rowers for you to choose from.

Calorie Burn

Because it involves both the upper and lower body, you will burn a good amount of calories when you exercise on a rowing machine. While the number of calories you will burn depends on several variables, including your weight, age, and the intensity of your workout, you can expect to burn between 500-800 calories per hour.

By combining regular rowing machine workouts with a calorie-reduced diet, you will be able to maintain a caloric deficit. This will force your body to make use of stored body fat to supply your energy needs. As a result, you will lose weight.

Low Impact

Exercising on a rowing machine is considered to be a closed chain exercise. That’s because your feet never leave the foot platform. As a result, you avoid the jarring and impact stress that comes with constant foot contact on the ground.

In addition to its low impact nature, rowing has actually been shown to be beneficial for people with existing joint pain. In one study, people with the early stages of osteoporosis had an average 30 percent improvement in joint rotation in the elbow, knee, lumbar, and shoulder joints.

Excellent Cardiovascular Exercise

Rowing provides you with a very effective workout for your heart and lungs. Rowing requires your heart to work hard as it pumps blood to your muscles. This will make the heart stronger, allowing it to push through more blood with every beat. At the same time, your blood vessels will become stronger, your heart rate will come down and your blood pressure will approach the ideal of 120/80.

Boosts Power

If your goal is to increase your power, especially in the lower body, then the rowing machine is the ideal choice for you. Power is the ability to exert the maximum amount of force in a minimal amount of time. Every rowing stroke requires a huge power output from the lower body as your glutes propel your body back to leg extension during the drive. Then your upper body powers the pull-through of the handle to your ribs.

Rowing will also improve both your cardiovascular and muscular endurance, allowing you to keep going for longer.

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    It Can Be Mindful

    More than many other forms of cardio exercise, rowing allows you to get into a rhythm. The smooth back and forth motion can be very meditative as your body effortlessly performs the action and your mind switches to autopilot.

    Many people find that rowing allows them to engage in mindful thinking, relaxing them and releasing stress. The physical action of rowing also brings on the release of feel-good hormones that also promote a feeling of well-being and positivity.

    It is Time Efficient

    Rowing is one of the most time-efficient forms of exercise that exist. That is because it provides you with a full-body muscular workout while also working your cardiovascular system. In other words, it is providing you with both an aerobic and an anaerobic workout at the same time.

    Rowing is also an excellent exercise to perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This is when you do repeated rounds of short sprints followed by even short rest periods. For example, after a 2-minute warmup, you row at maximum speed for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. This is repeated for 8 rounds, followed by a 2-minute warm down.

    This type of HIIT rowing workout takes just 8 minutes, including the warmup and warm down. As well as burning a lot of calories while you are doing it. HIIT training also brings on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect, which will boost your metabolism and burn more calories for the next 24-36 hours.

    It Improves Your Posture

    Neck and back problems resulting from poor posture have become chronic over the past decade. With most of us spending hours each day hunched over a screen, that’s hardly a surprise. Rowing is a great way to fight back against poor posture.

    Rowing places emphasis on the glutes, core, erector spinae, and latissimus dorsi muscles, all of which are involved in maintaining proper posture. The stronger these muscles, the more your body will be able to maintain its upright position.

    When you perform the rowing action properly, you will be squeezing your shoulder blades together, thrusting your chest out, and pulling your shoulders down. These actions are imitative of a proper postural position.


    The rowing machine definitely deserves a place in your home gym. In terms of its versatility, effectiveness, and ability to work your entire body, it is the hardest working, most time and cost-effective cardio option that you could go for. Opting for a rowing machine as the centerpiece of your home gym’s cardio area is a decision that you will never regret.


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