What You Should Know About Rowing Machines

To get in shape, you do not necessarily have to hit the pavement or scale mountains. Using rowing machines is an ideal way to

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To get in shape, you do not necessarily have to hit the pavement or scale mountains. Using rowing machines is an ideal way to enhance your health and fitness; also, it is low impact and suitable for all fitness levels and ages. Rowing machines tend to mimic the motion or movement of rowing boats in the water, giving you a complete body workout in the process.

In This Article You Will Learn About…What Is A Rowing Machine?Rowing Machine Vs. Other Cardio MachinesRowing Machines Vs. TreadmillsRowing Machines Vs. Exercise BikesBenefits Of Rowing MachinesComprehensive Aerobic ExerciseWeight LossRigorous Upper-Body Work OutLower-Body WorkoutIncreased EnduranceConvenienceEasy To UseTypes Of Rowing MachinesAir Rowing MachineWater RowersHydraulic Rowing MachinesMagnetic Rowing MachinesHow To Row On A Rowing Machine?Rowing Machine AccessoriesNon-Slip Gym MatHeart Rate MonitorRowing ShoesRowing GlovesManufacturersConcept2StaminaMaintenance And CleaningConclusion

What Is A Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine is exercise equipment used to simulate or mimic the different actions of watercraft rowing to train or exercise for rowing. Nowadays, indoor rowing is considered a great sport in its right.

People refer to modern rowing machines as ergometers, as they measure how much work is performed by the user. The machines are calibrated to measure the amounts of energy expended by the rowers when using the equipment.

A rowing machine is designed to consist of a braking mechanism or energy damper attached to a handle or chain. The machines have a foot stretcher (a place for resting the feet) connected to the same platform as the braking mechanism or energy damper.

A majority of machines also have a rail to slide the mechanism and seat. Different rowing machines have various damping mechanisms and layouts; each has their specific benefits and drawbacks.

Rowing Machine Vs. Other Cardio Machines

If you are not sure whether you should buy a rowing machine or other conventional fitness machines, you are not alone. It is better to consider the various options before committing to buy any exercise equipment.

A rowing machine is an ideal option for muscle building, cardio and burning calories, while other cardio machines also have many great benefits. We will compare a rowing machine with other cardio machines so you can get familiar with how they stack up against each other.

Rowing Machines Vs. Treadmills

While rowing machines tend to work the whole body, treadmills usually concentrate on the lower body. However, while running on most treadmills, you are likely to burn more calories on average each hour compared to a rowing machine.

Therefore, rowing machines have the benefit of providing you a complete body workout; in contrast, treadmills are better if you want to burn a greater number of calories on an hourly basis.

You can use both exercise machines for low-impact exercises. In the case of treadmills, if you choose to walk, it would be low-impact, while if you run or jog it is a high-impact workout. On the other hand, rowing machines will always provide you low-impact workouts irrespective of how intensely or rigorously you use them.

This part is because your hands and feet always remain in contact with a rowing machine. So it is clear, in case you are not able to deal with a high-impact workout for whatever reason, you will be better off with a rowing machine.

Similarly, if your health goal is to build muscles, rowing machines are a better choice as well. This part is because rowing machines build muscles better as they work various muscles in the lower and upper body all at once; on the other hand, treadmills only work lower body muscles.

Rowing Machines Vs. Exercise Bikes

Similar to treadmills, exercise bikes tend to work usually on the lower body, while, rowing machines work the whole body. Exercise bikes burn a greater number of calories compared to most rowing machines, but as rowing machines tend to use more resistance while working out, you may experience that you are burning calories even after the workout.

Both fitness machines will provide you non-weight bearing and low-impact workouts. This feature makes them appropriate for individuals who have joint issues.

Both of these machines are excellent at providing cardiovascular workouts, allowing the users to set their resistance levels. The major difference between exercise bikes and rowing machines is that rowing machines tend to provide you an entire body workout and exercise bikes usually provide you just lower body workouts.

Therefore, in case you want to focus on the development of the lower body, it is a better option to go for an exercise bike. In contrast, if you would like to work out your full body, rowing machines are a better choice.

Benefits Of Rowing Machines

A rowing machine is ideal for building and toning muscles, weight loss, and improving stamina. A rowing machine works out many key muscle groups in your body and helps you build both the lower and upper body.

More importantly, rowing machines get your lungs working and heart pumping, giving a rigorous aerobic workout. These are some of the top benefits of working out with a rowing machine.

Comprehensive Aerobic Exercise

Irrespective of a person’s age, fitness plans that tend to incorporate cardio (also called aerobic exercises) are a vital contributor to an individual’s overall health. Regular aerobic exercises can help you lose weight, improve stamina, and develop a strong immune system.

Your body releases endorphins when you are working out; this can help improve your sleep quality and overall mood. As rowing machines require the comprehensive use of many major muscle groups, using them is a great way to increase your oxygen intake and heart rate for a rigorous cardio workout.

Weight Loss

Frequent workouts on your rowing machine will help you tone muscles, burn calories, and provide you more energy. On average, an hourly workout on most rowing machines can help you burn up to 600 calories. This step is much more efficient compared to most home gym machines available on the market.

Usually, on an exercise bike, you will have to ride at least 80 minutes to get the same benefits as an hourly workout on your rowing machine. In combination with a balanced and healthy diet, the use of a rowing machine on a consistent basis is an ideal way to achieve your health and fitness goals.

Rigorous Upper-Body Work Out

You may know that a rowing machine usually provides a stellar upper-body workout. The machine effectively exercises the trapezii in your back, rhomboids in your shoulders, as well as lats in your lower back.

Stronger shoulders and back benefit you by improving your posture and reducing your back pain. Apart from your back, a rowing machine can also offer a great workout for the abs and biceps, helping you build a much stronger core.

Lower-Body Workout

Probably the best benefit of rowing machines is that they provide you an excellent lower-body workout. In fact, many rowing fans think of rowing mainly as a great lower-body workout. Some of the major leg muscles involved in the workout are your quads on your upper thighs and calves; however, your glutes also get a workout.

Development of strong glutes and legs can help you look healthier and attractive, while a work out of your lower body can burn calories much faster.

Apart from enhanced muscle tone and strength, regular resistance training on your rowing machine is an excellent way to maintain both balance and flexibility.

Increased Endurance

Workouts on a rowing machine can initially feel exhausting and strenuous; however, in the long term, you will benefit from increased endurance and higher energy level if you exercise on a regular basis.

As rowing exercise has a major cardiovascular component to it and tends to work out all the main muscle groups, it is much better than other kinds of workout equipment. With a little-repeated use, you will be able to gain more stamina and bolster your metabolism. Also, higher energy levels mean you will be more driven to perform the activities you enjoy!


Only because you do not live near a beach and own a rowing boat, does not necessarily mean that you cannot take pleasure in and derive the various physical benefits that rowing has to offer. You can buy a reasonably priced rowing machine you can use for the convenience and comfort of your own home.

At times, getting the motivation and enthusiasm to workout is far more challenging compared to the exercise itself. This reason is why accessible and uncomplicated workouts, such as rowing, tend to be more appealing and preferable. It has another great benefit as you always have the option to recruit a workout pal who can join you to provide more encouragement.

Easy To Use

In case you are embarking on the journey to get in top shape, it is likely that the maze of complex work out equipment at a gym or health club may get your head spinning. But, you do not need to worry as an exercise on rowing machines is extremely simple to learn and is suitable for people of different abilities and ages.

However, it is vital to ensure that you utilize proper rowing techniques while exercising. This feature will help you derive the maximum benefits from the workout while minimizing any potential injury.

You should securely fasten your feet to the stirrups using the shins, making an angle of ninety degrees to the floor. It is also ideal to keep the core engaged, the back straight, and row in fluid and smooth motions. You will easily get the hang of it.

Types Of Rowing Machines

If you are looking to buy a rowing machine that is suitable for your needs and requirements, you should know that there are many options available. These include air rowing machines, hydraulic rowers, and magnetic rowing machines.

Air Rowing Machine

These are also called flywheel rowing machines. They offer a very similar experience to outdoor rowing. Air rowing machines receive the resistance as a result of the pull motion. This motion tends to spin their flywheels, and the wind provides the resistance.

To boost the resistance level of air rowing machines, you just need to pull harder. It will move the machine’s flywheel faster and will provide a higher wind resistance from its fan blades.

Compared to most hydraulic and magnetic rowing machines, flywheel rowing machines tend to offer more continuous, natural, and smoother rowing strokes.

Fitness enthusiasts frequently use air rowing machines in corporate fitness centers, health clubs as well as rehabilitation clinics. Along with fitness, health and rehabilitation purposes, these machines are often the first choice for many rowing competitions throughout the world.

Water Rowers

Water rowing machines are an ideal choice for people who take part in outdoor rowing. The unique water flywheels of these machines are designed to imitate the dynamics or motion of boats moving through the water.

The flywheel of water rowing machine gets its resistance by overcoming the impact of drag as the water makes its way past the tank. Water rowers tend to be quite silent during use. You will only hear the water swishing when you will use this rowing machine.

Water rowing machines incorporate wooden frames. This feature often makes them the most attractive and appealing models available in the market; also, the mechanical vibrations, associated with most indoor rowing machines, are dampened as well.

Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Hydraulic rowing machines are usually the best option if you have a tight budget or lack of space is your main concern. These machines are effective and economical for indoor rowing. A hydraulic rowing machine receives the tension from fluid or air that is compressed using a piston or cylinder. Most modern models allow you to adjust the level of tension.

Although a hydraulic rowing machine is low-cost, it usually differs from magnetic, air and water rowing machines as its technique does not permit the user to pull effectively in a straight line.

A majority of these machines need you to place your body in exercise positions that do not let you perform natural rowing motions. As a result, you are not able to synchronize your leg and arm movements naturally.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowing machines are known and liked for providing smooth rowing strokes and being very silent during use. In contrast to air rowing machines which use wind as a source of their resistance, a magnetic rowing machine uses magnetic brake systems.

One of the great benefits of using a magnetic rower is that it does not generate a lot of sounds. A rowing machine which works on the principle of magnetic resistance tends to produce little or no friction (unlike flywheel and water rowing machines) and provides a silent workout. Magnetic rowing machines use either only magnetic resistance or a mix of air and magnetic resistance.

How To Row On A Rowing Machine?

Follow these steps to row effectively on a rowing machine:

  • Ensure you are wearing formfitting clothes and set the resistance at a low or moderate level
  • Secure both feet tightly to the pads using the straps so that the feet do not move too much when you slide.
  • Slide your knees up to the top of your rowing machine. With an overhead grip firmly grab the machine’s handle, but refrain from holding too tightly.
  • While sliding to the machine’s end, pull the handle toward you. Your knees should be slightly bent, and your legs need to be straight.
  • Then lean back a little bit, pulling both the hands to the chest and hold the handle such that it is below your breasts.
  • First move out your arms, and then the upper body. Always keep your back straight, with your abs and shoulders engaged while you follow through.
  • With the extension of your arms, the upper body posture should transition to slightly angled forward from slightly angled back.
  • Bend your legs to move the body forward on your seat. Your arms will extend fully, and legs will bend when you are on top of your machine. This part is known as the catch stroke.
  • To move back to the finish position, start pushing off with the feet, so your legs can straighten up, but the arms should stay extended and the body slightly leaning forward.
  • Your arms should return to the finishing position last, and your upper body should angle back.
  • Bend your arms and pull the handle such that it touches your chest.

Rowing Machine Accessories

Many accessories make rowing a more fun and effective experience. Some of them are:

Non-Slip Gym Mat

Durable and non-slip mats help protect your floor from chain oil, scratches, and sweat. You can easily clean them with a piece of damp cloth.

Heart Rate Monitor

This feature allows you to track your heart rate to better work out in various target zones by providing valuable data that can be used and analyzed.

Rowing Shoes

While on a rowing machine you would like to make a firm connection with both footboards; therefore it is vital to have a flat and hard soled shoe.

Rowing Gloves

It is ideal to put on a pair of rowing gloves to avoid the formation of callouses, scars, and blisters on your hands. They are usually breathable and lightweight.


There are many producers of rowing machines and accessories. Some of the popular brands are:


Concept2 is one of the leading manufacturers of rowing accessories and machines in the world. The company is trendy for its air resistance rowing machines, which are often considered standard testing and training machines in most gyms.

Concept2 is also well recognized for its innovative products. In 2010, the company launched dynamic indoor rowers, featuring moving foot stretchers rather than moving seats. They also make sophisticated electronic monitors.

The company makes a variety of rowing machines, heart rate sensors, rowing attire, heavy-duty mats, alternative seats for rowing machines, rowing gloves and chain oil for rowing machines.


Stamina sells some of the most economical indoor rowing machines and various fitness equipment and accessories at affordable prices. The company was formed in 1987 and was popular for developing infomercials in that era.

Nighttime sales brought quick success to the business, and by 1990 Stamina, Inc was among the most swiftly growing organizations in America.

The company manufactures over a dozen types of indoor rowing machines for home use. Most of their machines are hydraulic and very economical. Their products have a sleek and compact design with strong frames and a variety of resistance levels.

Maintenance And Cleaning

The maintenance and cleaning of your rowing machine are vital to ensure that you do not wear it out prematurely. Follow our brief guide to keep your machine in good condition and get the most out of it.

It is important to wipe off any sweat from the machine after every workout. Sweat can easily eat away at powder coat and paint. Keep the guide rail free of debris and dirt. If there is a chain connected to the rowing handle, oil it every six months.

To keep it in good shape, follow these tips:

  • Always place an impact-resistant and non-slip mat underneath your machine as it will help protect your floor.
  • Always use your machine on an even surface.
  • Make sure that you have enough space for yourself and the rowing machine.
  • Do not allow any person who exceeds the manufacturer’s weight limit to use your machine. It is likely to damage your machine and may also invalidate the warranty.


We have discussed what a rowing machine is and the difference between rowing machines and other cardio machines. We have discussed many benefits of rowing machines such as weight loss, upper and lower body work out, etc.

We have also looked at different types of rowing machines and how they work. We have described how you can row on a rowing machine and discussed many accessories relating to rowing machines such as gloves and shoes.

We have also provided many tips on how to maintain and clean your rowing machine along with a description of some top manufacturers of rowing equipment. Our buying guide will discuss the different features that you should consider when buying a rowing machine along with a few recommendations.






​Huffington Post

​The Guardian

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