What Muscles Does Rowing Work Out – Benefits Of Rowing Machines

using a rowing machine

What Muscles Does Rowing Work Out?

Rowing machines can be found in every gym. Rowers are also becoming a popular home gym machine. These machines allow you to work on all the major muscle groups and help you burn a ton of calories. Let’s find out more about the benefits of rowers.

How To Use A Rowing Machine

You should know a few things about rowers to get the most out of these machines. Your posture is very important and will help you engage all the rowing machine muscles.

Good form is also crucial to avoid pulling a muscle or putting too much pressure on your joints. Rowing exercises are a low-impact workout so the risks of injuries are very low and you shouldn’t feel any joint pain after a workout.

You can adjust the resistance of a rower. Your goal should be to do twenty strokes a minute. If you are struggling to get close to twenty strokes, you need to lower the resistance of the machine. You will still work on all your main muscle groups with low resistance levels.

Make sure your feet are properly strapped. The strap should rest below your big toes, and you shouldn’t be able to move your feet around. Your knees should be aligned with your hips at all times.

Be careful when pulling on the handle of the rower. Your grip shouldn’t be too tight. Remember not to lock your knees as you perform a stroke. When you pull back on the handle, make sure it is resting just below your chest.

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke is a back and forth motion performed on a rowing machine. The purpose of this exercise is to reproduce the movements you would perform if you were to row a boat.

You should start your workout by adopting the catch position. Once you are comfortably seated on the rower and have your feet strapped to the footrests, pull and bend your knees to make the seat move forward.

The seat should be as close to the machine as possible, your knees bent, and your arms extended to hold on to the handle. This is how you should start and end each stroke. Engage your abs and keep your back straight.

You can then move on to the second part of the stroke. This position is called the drive. Push with your feet and extend your legs to move the seat back on the rower.

Once your seat has moved all the way back, you can straighten your back and pull on the handle to bring it just below your chest. This is the end of the drive, and you can adopt the catch position again to start another stroke.

Which Muscles Are Exercised?


Remember that your goal is to perform twenty strokes a minute. You should move slowly and take the time to feel each muscle that is engaged. Hold each catch and drive position for a few seconds before moving on. Be mindful of your posture, especially when it comes to keeping your back and shoulders straight.

If you feel that you are moving too fast, you need to increase the resistance of the machine. You should feel each muscle as it becomes active, but you shouldn’t struggle to move the seat or the handle of the machine.

A stroke will engage your legs, upper body, and core muscles. When you are in the catch position, your legs are doing most of the work. This position engages your hamstrings in the back of your thighs as well as the calf muscles. The erector spinae muscle in your lower back is also active.

More muscles spring into action as you start pushing back to adopt the drive position. The calf muscles and hamstrings are still active, but the quadriceps located on top of your thighs are also engaged.

The erector spinae in your lower back is still active, and the rhomboids are used to straighten your back. The rhomboids are shoulder muscles connected to your shoulder blades.

Once you have finished pushing the seat back, you will start reclining and straightening your back. This movement engages more muscles. This is the most intense part of working out on a rower.

Here are the rowing machine muscles engaged during this phase:

  • Your legs are fully extended, and the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles are still active.
  • Your glutes are also engaged.
  • Your abs tighten to maintain your recline position.
  • The rhomboids in your shoulders are still active, and so is the trapezius. This is a major muscle that controls your shoulder blades.
  • Your chest is also getting a workout. Your pectorals major will contract.
  • This part of the rowing exercise also helps you exercise your arms by engaging your deltoids, wrist extensors, and flexors. The deltoids can be found in the top portion of your arm and shoulder while the wrist extensors and flexors are located in your forearms.

The tension in your lower body is going to relax once you start bringing the handle back towards your chest. Remember not to lock your knees.

Your hamstrings and quadriceps are still active, but the calf muscles and glutes are no longer engaged since you are not pushing back anymore. The erector spinae in your lower back is still active.

The pectoralis major in your chest is still getting a workout, and so are your abs. The external obliques are used when you bring the handle back. These are important core muscles that help support your abdominal wall. They are often neglected in favor of developing abs.

There are more muscles activated in your arms. The deltoids, wrist extensors, and flexors are still used, but the triceps and biceps are now active as well. The triceps are the large muscles in the back of your arms, while the biceps can be found in the front.

Benefits Of Rowing Machines

Using Rowing Machine

There are a total of thirteen rowing machine muscles used when performing a stroke. This is a full-body workout that engages all your main muscle groups. It is difficult to find another workout that will activate as many muscles.

Rowing machine exercises help you save time and reach weight loss or fitness goals faster. You would have to put together a detailed exercise program to target all the muscles you can exercise on a rowing machine. Other exercises like cycling have similar benefits but don’t engage as many muscles since rowing uses resistance in two directions.

Engaging all your main muscle groups at once helps you burn more calories and reach your weight loss goals. Someone who weighs 185 lbs. can burn 311 calories with a 30-minute workout. If you weigh 125 lbs, you would burn 210 calories. You can burn even more calories by working out more intensively.

Rowers also improve your cardio and resistance. Activating all these muscles requires your body to increase its oxygen levels.

This will make your heart rate go up, and you will breathe faster. Your lungs and heart are also getting a workout when you use a rowing machine.

If you work out with a rower on a regular basis, your heart and lungs will become stronger. Your stamina will increase, and you will improve your heart health. You will be able to complete longer and more demanding workouts after a while.

You should also notice a difference in energy levels. Losing weight and improving your stamina will help you be more active.

Muscle toning is another benefit of rowing exercises. Rowers will help you get defined abs and increase muscle mass in all the main muscle groups.

Progressing with rowing workouts is easy. All you have to do is increase the resistance of the machine progressively. You can also decide to increase the resistance for a few minutes before lowering it to work out at a slower pace for a few minutes.

There is no need to create a complex workout plan or to get help from a trainer to get results. All you need to do is aim for twenty strokes a minute and adjust the resistance level as needed.

Rowing is a low impact workout. It is best to stick to low impact workouts if you are overweight or suffer from bone or joint pain.

A high-impact workout such as weight lifting or running increases your risks of injuries and can result in joint pain. Rowing is much safer.

And because rowing machines are relatively small and affordable, you can easily set up a home gym with one of these machines. You will be more likely to work out every day if you have one of these machines at home.

Few other workouts will engage as many muscles as rowing machines. This is a machine you should consider if you want a home gym, and you should try rowing for half an hour the next time you go to the gym to see how many calories you can burn.

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