top of page

Jump on Board

Benefits of Using an Indoor Rowing Machine

Photo by Vida Fitness

Looking for a new way to modify an old fitness routine? Many people overlook the rowing machine because it’s been around for so long and they are unaware of all of its benefits. No, it is not just an upper-body workout. Many Olympic athletes use the machine during training season to build strength and produce maximum cardio exertion. It can also be used as a low body impact, conditioning, and toning tool for our whole bodies. Here are a few reasons why we should incorporate the rowing machine into our routine at the gym.

The way the machine operates—the harder and faster we work the more resistance builds up. We are in control of the workout, speed, and resistance. With every stroke nine of our muscle groups are getting worked; our quads, hamstrings, lats, glutes, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and core. What other cardio workout can strengthen and condition all these muscles at the same time?

There is an expression ‘sitting is the new smoking’ referring to the threatening effects of sitting down too often or for too long. With that being the case some people believe that a sport done sitting down cannot be as effective as others. That is a myth, rowing actually counteracts sitting, whether it is sitting in a car or working at a desk all day. Each stroke takes our body through a dynamic range of motion and increases our mobility in our shoulders, lower back, and hamstring. The push/pull movement of rowing replicates a leg press, hip hinge, and a scapular retraction (opening of our shoulders). Don’t be fooled by this act of sitting down, rowing makes us anything but lazy.

Rowing can be high intensity but it is also a great workout for someone in physical therapy or cross-training because it’s a low impact replacement for other activities. Sliding on the seat down the track distributes our weight and reduces the stress on our joints. For example if a runner were to replace their interval sprints with several high intensity rows going up to 250 meter each time, they would save their ankles, knees, and lower back by not pounding their joints into the ground with each stride. Substituting in a low impact workout once a week is a great way to give our body, our joints in particular, some much needed rest.

Understanding the benefits of rowing was enough to persuade us into incorporating it in some of our next workouts. Rowing is starting to make a comeback and we wanted to make sure everyone is on the bandwagon when it starts up again. In fact, there are some classes/groups that regularly use rowing machines so if you prefer that type of setting or need a little more instruction on how to properly use the machine, look out for Indo-Row, Orange Theory, ShockWave, City Row, or check out the nearest CrossFit box.


bottom of page