Benefits of Indoor Rowing 

Updated April 2022

With so many pieces of home equipment available, why should you consider indoor rowing as an option? After all a rowing machine is just one of the many choices that you have. There are treadmills, exercise bikes, cross trainers and many others to pick from. In this article though, we want to look specifically at the muscle groups worked by indoor rowing machines, and what physical and mental health benefits can be obtained.

The rowing machine has been around for many years. In fact for a long time the rowing machine was a very popular choice for many people. Those along with treadmills and exercise bikes filled the homes of people in the UK, who were trying to get fit, lose a bit of weight and generally try to live a healthier lifestyle.

Before we look at the top 10 benefits of indoor rowing, it is worthwhile taking just a little time, to understand what muscle groups are worked, when you exercise on a rowing machine.

Top 10 Benefits of Indoor Rowing and Why You Should Consider It

Just below you will find what we believe to be the main benefits of indoor rowing.

Can you get in shape by just rowing?

We believe that before you consider buying any piece of exercise equipment, that you properly understand, what muscle groups they will help improve, and how that can improve your shape. That is a very good way of understanding, if this is the right piece of home equipment for you.

Rowing is known to work nine major muscle groups These are the:

  • Quads - stands for quadriceps and are located in the tops of the thighs
  • Glutes - a group of three muscles which make up the buttocks
  • Core - All muscles other than the arms and legs
  • Lats - stands for Latissimi dorsi, a large muscle on the back and sides of the body
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps - the muscles used to straighten the arms
  • Biceps - muscles on the front of the arms between the shoulder and the elbow
  • Back
  • Hamstrings - Three muscles on the top back of the legs

As you can see that covers a wide range of all the muscles on the body. Rowing is considered to be a cardiovascular workout, but it is also clear that it has a high impact on improving muscular development and strength.

That strength is particularly good for us, as we start to age. It is also good for the overall shape of the body.

Top 10 benefits of rowing at a glance

  1. Improves the Respiratory System
  2. It Is a Low Impact Exercise
  3. Excellent Choice for Weight Loss
  4. Top Rated Exercise for Building Strength
  5. Good Full Body Exercise
  6. Great for the Heart
  7. Helps Reduce Body Fat
  8. Only Need One Piece of Equipment
  9. Good Range of Exercise Options
  10. Stress Buster

We have explained each of these benefits in more detail below.

1. Improves the Respiratory System

There is common agreement among health professionals, and fitness experts, that any exercise that works the lungs is inevitably good for you. Rowing, be it on a lake, a river or indoors is very good for the cardio.

The physical effort of rowing will make your breathe heavier and faster. Even on long slow strokes, this will happen, and even more so, if you opt for shorter, faster strokes.

That will over time increase your lung capacity and help promote healthy breathing

2. Is a Low Impact Exercise

The good news is that a rowing machine, and the act of rowing is termed a "low impact exercise." Unlike a treadmill for example, there is no impact on the knee and ankle joints from your weight bouncing up and down on a track.

Now of course those joints will be worked, which is a good thing, but they will not be pounded. In addition to the low impact of this type of exercise, the good news is that the legs will increase in strength. The more you row, the stronger your legs will become.

In your younger years the leg joints have not taken a lot of abuse. Most younger people can walk and run for long distances without a great deal of pain. However as you start to age, then you can start to get pain in these joints.

By opting to row, you can reduce the impact on those important joints, without doing them any long term damage.

3. Is a Low Impact Exercise

Can you really lose weight with this type of exercise? Like any exercise, the number of calories burned by rowing will vary from person to person. Two things determine how many calories you can burn. These are:

The amount of resistance you set on the machine, will determine the amount of effort required to row
The more effort you put in, the more calories can be burned.

As an example an average 20 minute workout for a person, in reasonable health will burn approximately 125 calories. Now if you increase the length of the workout, or increase the resistance level, then the more calories you will burn.

The rowing machine is therefore a good choice for weight loss.

4. Top Rated Exercise for Building Strength

Building up Strength is not only good for our bodies at the time, but it is vitally important as we start to age.

The humble rowing machine clearly build up strength in the legs, and in the arms. That is simply because of the basic rowing action.

However it also builds up a lot of strength in the back, chest and even our bottoms. I explained above just how many muscle groups the action of rowing can impact.

The more we do, and the higher resistance we pick, then the more strength we can create, in those important muscle groups.

5. Good Full Body Exercise

The best thing about rowing generally, is that is does include an overall body workout and toning. That is because, as you have seen earlier, it works a whole range of muscle groups, both large and small.

If you use the machine properly, you can slowly increase tension and resistance on the machine over time. You can start with a gentle workout, and over time slowly build up the muscles. That is useful especially if you are trying to recover from an injury.

That can help the injured area regain mobility and strength at your own pace. Anyone suffering from arthritis can really benefit from rowing, as it can be a gentle exercise for your joints.

Even if you are not suffering from any injury type, this exercise is simply good for an all over body routine and workout.

6. Great for the Heart

We should not forget about the health benefits of rowing for the heart. Any exercise that impacts the heart rate can be considered to be a cardio exercise. Now although there is no actual physical distance covered, when using a rowing machine, there is a strong rowing action.

It is that which can increase the heart rate, and also get the blood pumping faster around the body. Rowing, either done indoors or outdoor, will help improve your cardiovascular health, as well as other parts of the body.

Any type of movement be that a quick stroll, a jog or any other movement is a good thing for the heart. Using a rowing machine is not specifically designed to be healthy for the heart. The rowing action though is what certainly does the trick.

7. Helps Reduce Body Fat

We all know that burning body fat is not easy. One way of doing that is to use some form of aerobic activity. A good brisk walk that lasts an hour for example, will burn off between 300-400 calories.

However running for an hour, or cycling for an hour, or swimming for an hour will burn off around 600 calories.

Now rowing for an hour will outdo any of the above. If you can row for an hour, then that will burn of a pretty staggering 800-850 calories. Rowing is one of the very best low impact, high intensity ways to burn off fat quickly.

The only one that beats that is skipping for an hour. That can burn off 1,000 calories, the problem is very few people can skip for an hour.

8. Only Need One Piece of Equipment

If you decide to go for a rowing machine, then the good news is that is probably the only piece of home equipment, that you will ever need.

Now please don't get me wrong, I am not saying it is the only one you will ever own, but it is the only one you will ever need.

There is a slight difference in those two thoughts.

This type of machine can provide a fitness activity, that can be enjoyed all year-long, by almost all ages and has health benefits for everyone.

There is no need to worry about the weather outside, or what time you need to go to the gym.

9. Good Range of Exercise Options

One thing that should not be under estimated, is that a rowing machine gives you quite a bit of choice. You can opt for a slow and methodical workout, that will help build up endurance and strength.

However if you prefer you can do a more intense workout such as high interval intensity training. (HIIT) Indeed, you can mix it up and do a little or a lot of both.

10. Stress Buster

Now of course any type of exercise is good for getting rid of stress. What we think makes a rowing machine slightly better, that other home equipment, is that you can do a wide range of other things, and still work out.

You can listen to music, listen to a book or just watch TV. Many users prefer to listen to some music in the background as they follow their routine.

There is nothing quite like it if you have had a hard day at work, or the kids have been playing you up at home.

Summary of The Health Benefits of Rowing Machines

It is pretty fair to say, out of all the available fitness equipment on the market, the rowing machine has been around a very long time. For us it is something different, and rowing is not something, that we can get to do a great deal of. It therefore has a novel appeal.

So as well as being fun, it is also a really good choice to have a good all round body workout. It also seems really good for fat burning, and also for weight loss.

Check Here for our Reviews on the Top 10 Rowing Machines

There is a technique for rowing which we have written about here. Once you master that, and it doesn't take that long, you can really maximise your fitness levels. Hopefully this article has explained the main benefits of buying and owning a rowing machine.

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I try to bring you honest down to earth reviews on the best exercise equipment for the home. There are many choices from exercise bikes to vibration toners, so we have reviewed the best in class for all of them.

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Enda MclArnon