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Rowing machines have been super popular in the past few years. Once only usually found in public gyms and CrossFit boxes, rowers are now commonly used in studios and home gyms. If you’re interested in rowing and want to learn about its benefits, then keep reading!
Below, I go into 11 amazing benefits of rowing machines so you can learn more about this growingly popular piece of equipment. And if you’re in the market for a rower, be sure to check out our best rowers list to find the perfect one for you.
1. Helps Improve Overall Health
Arguably the most important benefit that rowing has to offer is to help improve your overall health. Rowing has been proven to not only help improve your strength, overall fitness, and immune system but also boost your mood. Yes, physical activity can do all of this, but the repetitive motion of rowing has been shown to produce a meditative experience that can help calm the mind, increase focus, and reduce stress. Plus, it can help increase your flexibility.
Rowers also help burn a lot of calories when you’re using them. So, if weight loss is a goal, rowing could help encourage this.
2. Works Your Entire Body
One great aspect of rowing is that it’s a full-body workout. In your lower body, rowing machines work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Rowing can also target your chest, delts, shoulders, traps, lats, biceps, forearms, and core. Rowing is said to use 60% of your lower body, 20% of your arms, and 20% of your core, including your back when practicing proper form. Rowers use different types of resistance to pull against. When rowing against tension you’re able to strengthen and build muscle. That’s why rowing is an excellent workout to train your entire body.
3. Friendly On Your Joints
Rowing is considered a low-impact activity. High-impact activities like running involve your feet striking against the ground. This creates an impact that can cause discomfort in your joints. On a rower, your feet are secured to the pedals to push from the footboards. When you push your legs, the seat glides as you pull back on the handle. Once you’ve completed the catch, drive, and finish, your body naturally glides back during the recovery into the starting catch position again.
Throughout this entire motion, no part of your body faces impact against the rower.
Rowing is a wonderful alternative to high-impact activities because of this. It can also be a better alternative for those who suffer from joint pain and arthritis. This is especially true if you have knee pain because rowing can help strengthen the muscles around your knees. We suggest looking into rowing if you want a low-impact activity that works your entire body.
4. Perfect For All Fitness Levels
Working out on a rower is the type of exercise that is suitable for most people. From beginners to Olympic athletes, rowing is an effective workout that can help condition almost anyone. The resistance on air rowers and water rowers feels heavier the harder you row, meaning that the resistance adjusts to your effort level. Magnetic rowers have adjustable resistance so you can select levels that challenge you. Because of this, rowing machines can work for any level of fitness. Learn more about each type of rower, here. Since they’re low-impact they can work for a greater majority of users, too.
5. It’s Challenging
No matter your fitness level, rowing is hard. A big reason why they’re so challenging is that using a rowing machine recruits every major muscle group in the body. It’s more physically demanding than running and cycling. Rowers also don’t provide any momentum themselves, this all comes from your body, so there’s no way to cheat the movement.
6. Great If You’re Short On Time
Because rowers provide such challenging workouts, you can get in a good sweat in a very short amount of time. I know for me personally, I can be out of breath in the span of a couple of minutes when I row. Some rowers such as the Aviron and Ergatta have workouts that are less than 10 minutes long. So, if you don’t have a lot of time you can still get in a tough workout on a rowing machine.
7. It Can Be Used For All Kinds Of Training
Rowing machines allow for a lot of flexibility with your training. They are popular among the CrossFit community where they commonly use them in short bursts in between exercises like lifting weights. This is because as I mentioned, rowing is tough and doesn’t require a long period of time to get you huffing and puffing. The Concept2 Air Rower is beloved and used in competitions like the CrossFit Games because it offers unlimited resistance to pull against.
Rowers can be utilized for long and short cardio sessions, as well as HIIT training and cross-training which involves exercises on and off the rower.
8. Strengthens Cardiovascular System
Rowers help strengthen your muscles, but they are still considered a cardio workout. Rowing even for only a few minutes can elevate the heart rate which strengthens the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is your heart and blood vessels that provide oxygen to the body. The stronger your cardiovascular system is the more efficiently oxygen and nutrients are supplied throughout your body for it to function. This also can help improve your circulation and lower your blood pressure.
9. Helps Improve Posture
It can be common to see people hunched over and rounding their backs when using a rowing machine. This is poor form. When performed correctly, rowing strengthens your back. During each row, you want to be sure to keep your back flat and core engaged. You also want to make sure your pelvis remains neutral so there’s no tucking or arching of the lower back. With correct form and time, you can improve your posture with rowing. This is great news if you’re like me and spend a lot of time slouched sitting at a computer or hunched over on a phone.
10. Encourages Body Awareness
Rowing is a technical movement that can take some time to learn how to properly do. Since rowing recruits your entire body to perform every stroke, this can help you become more in tune with how your muscles and body are working. In any exercise, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re doing the movement correctly to help prevent injuries, but with rowing specifically, it’s important that you’re aware of the muscles that are engaging during each stroke.
It can be common to use too much of your arms and not enough of your legs. Focusing on keeping the power of the drive (the position where the body extends) coming from your legs rather than arms helps ensure your lower body is working and encourages you to become more aware of how your body engages and moves overall.
11. Available In Home And Public Gyms
Our team of experts tests a lot of rowers. With its growing popularity, more brands are coming out with rowing machines for public and personal use. Of course, this is fun for us because we love testing new equipment, but it’s also exciting to see how accessible rowing has become. No longer is it limited to solely being done on the water. Now, there are different types of rowers to fit your needs and work in your home.
Starting off with storage, some rowers can be stored upright, while others fold in half while not in use. While they are long and can take up a large amount of room in your home, most can be stored out of the way. Also, for home use, rowers are no longer limited to being used in a garage because of their noise. Yes, air rowers make the greatest amount of sound and aren’t best for some homes because of this, magnetic rowers are typically much quieter if not silent. Water rowers are also said to be appropriate for shared spaces because of the soothing sound they provide.
Rowing also doesn’t have to be boring. More and more rowers are coming out with attached touch screens with entertaining content built-in. Nowadays, you can take guided rowing classes from professionals, or even play video games or stream movies all while getting in a stellar workout. So, maybe instead of watching reruns of Schitt’s Creek while sitting on your couch, you can watch it while sitting on your new rower? We recommend you actually row while doing this though, that way you can experience all of these amazing benefits!
Let us know in the comments which rower is your favorite, we love to hear from you.