Do Rowing Machines Work Out Your Abs?

When it comes to rowing machines, there are tons of excellent benefits. That being overall better mental health to how easy it is to get in a solid workout on a rowing machine. One of the best things about using a rowing machine is how much your body is used in the exercise. But are you able to work out your abs on a rowing machine?

As previously stated, rowing machines work out a large portion of your body. In fact, when you are rowing, you are using over 80% of the muscles in your body to perform the standard row.

This includes your abs and the other muscles in your core. Using your core muscles is integral to achieving the traditional rowing technique to speak further on this matter.

Therefore, when you are on a rowing machine and are not engaging your core muscles properly, you will miss out on a good portion of the workout.

As you continue to read this article, it will be going more in-depth with how much a rowing machine actually works out your abs. Along with that, it will also go over the proper rowing technique and a few different ways you can use a rowing machine to target your abs more specifically.

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Do Rowing Machines Benefit Your Abs?

The short answer to that question is yes; they do benefit your abs, and so much more. While properly rowing on a rowing machine, you will constantly be engaging your core muscles with every row you perform.

Although, when you are a beginner on the rowing machine, your ab region will most likely not be getting the full workout possible. This comes with time for two reasons.

The 2 Reasons Rowing Machines Benefit Your Abdominal Muscles

1. Proper Rowing Technique Helps Get Certain Muscle Areas

The main reason is the proper rowing technique. Usually, beginner rowers will use their legs and arms more for the exercise than anything else. But with time and practice, eventually, you will be using all of the intended muscle regions the rowing machine was designed to target. 

2. Your Abdomen Muscles Are Getting A Workout

The second reason is that if you are physically fit, there is a decent chance that you already have recently worked out abdominal muscles. Still, you can not see them due to there being a thin layer of fat above your ab muscles.

A rowing machine will help you two-fold in this instance. While working out your ab muscles during the rowing process, you will also be doing one of the best exercises to shred fat off of your body.

Rowing, in general, is one of if not the best aerobic exercise, which leads to tons of health benefits. However, this makes rowing a fantastic exercise to lose weight and melt fat. This eventually allows your ab muscles to start to peak through your skin as they get more and more cut.

The Major Areas A Rowing Machine Works Out

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As you are rowing, you are working out over 80% of your body. This comes from the natural motion you perform while rowing. Rowing will benefit and work out muscles in your calves up to your shoulders and just about everything in between. The following areas are the significant areas rowing will work out

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadratic Muscles
  • Buttocks
  • Lower Back Muscles
  • Upper Back Muscles
  • Abdominal Region
  • Shoulders
  • Upper Arm Muscles
  • Lower Arm Muscles

Something to keep in mind is that these are just the areas in which rowing will work out. Most of these muscle areas are filled with different muscles that make that area work, and rowing will benefit each and every one of them during your workout.

How To Properly Use A Rowing Machine

To properly engage all of the muscles listed above, you will need to learn and master the proper rowing technique. Otherwise, while rowing, some areas listed above will not benefit from the workout as much or at all.

That being said, the proper rowing technique is relatively simple and only has three steps:

  • The Starting Position, or The Catch: You will be sitting on the device with your feet on the footpads when you are in the starting position. You will want to keep your knees straight and at a 90-degree angle or perpendicular to the floor.

    Next, keep your arms straight out in front of you while holding the bar in this position. Finally, your back must remain as straight as possible. Arching your back during this exercise can cause stress and pain in your back.

    With that said, keeping your back straight is a crucial element of this workout. With your back straight, lean forward so that your shoulders are past your hips.
  • The Drive: This is where you will be getting your ab workout in. To start the drive, you will need to engage your core muscles to help keep your body straight while you push on the footpads with your legs driving you out towards the ends of the machine.

    Once you reach the end of the rail, keep your abs flexed and tightened to keep your body as straight as possible as you start to lean back in the seat while pulling the bar with your arms towards your chest just below your ribs.

    When you have finished the drive, your legs will be straight, your hands holding the bar will be touching the top of your abs, and your back will be straight, leaning approximately 45 degrees back.
  • The Recovery: The recovery is essentially a small rest as you return to the starting position. To do this, you will effectively reverse the drive process until you return to the said starting position.

    That means you will lean forward and extend your arms back out straight in front of you and start to raise your knees until they are once again from a 90-degree angle with the floor. 

The rowing process is straightforward to learn and is relatively quick to master. Once you start to row correctly, you will begin to feel the difference all over your body. An excellent way to learn and master the rowing technique is at the beginning of your workout.

Take a few minutes to row slowly, this will help you get the rowing process down pat, and before you know it, you will be rowing like a pro.

Just remember, the key to a proper row is keeping your back straight and engaging your core.

How To Make Sure You Are Using Your Core On a Rowing Machine

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When you are starting to row on a rowing machine, you might get into the habit of relying on the device and your legs to help pull you back into the starting position. This is because beginners will unconsciously rely on the straps on the footpads and their legs to keep them on the machine.

Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if you are doing this. If you are, you will not see much progress in your abdominal region. 

Most ab workout comes from the end drive and the beginning of the recovery when you are rowing.

Use Your Core Muscles

To properly work out your abs while rowing, you will need to use your core to keep your body and back straight and use them to lean back at the end of the drive and catch yourself from falling off of the rail. In addition, you will be using them to begin the recovery process by leaning forward.

There is a beginner tip we will give you. To see if you are genuinely rowing properly, unstrap your feet from the footpads and place them on top of the straps.

Once you have done this, do your row as usual. If you find yourself flying off the rail at the end of the drive, you are not using the proper rowing technique.

Use this opportunity to grow a bit slower without the straps. You should immediately see the difference and how you should be using your core to keep you in the proper position on the rowing machine.

It would be best to do this at the beginning of your rowing workouts when you are learning how to use your abs on a rowing machine properly.

Different Ways To Use A Rowing Machine To Work Out Your Abs

As we have said before in this article, employing the proper rowing technique is a great way to improve your abs. However, there are a few different ways you can use the rowing machine to get an ab workout in.

This mainly comes from using the sliding rail system on the rowing machine to your benefit. 

1. An Ab Roll-Out Wheel

For example, you can use the rail system as an ab roll-out wheel like you would on the floor. It works in the same way, except you are in a standing position instead of a planking position on the floor.

2. Do Mountain Climbers

Another great example is using the seat and rail system to do mountain climbers. Furthermore, you can add pushups to those mountain climbers for added benefits to your chest and arms.

Final Thoughts

Using a rowing machine in your workout routine is a fantastic way to either have a quick and easy full-body workout or have the perfect warmup for the rest of your workout routine.

In addition, because rowing machines use and work out over 80% of the muscles in your body, you can expect to see improvements in your other workouts.

One of the major areas a rowing machine works on is your abdominals, as long as you are using the proper rowing technique.

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