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The benefits of rowing machines: lose weight, tone your muscles and other reasons to get a rowing machine at home!
Last updated 22nd October, 2021

Working out at home can seem like an impossible challenge. There’s the pain of finding bodyweight alternatives to your favourite exercises, the logistical nightmare of going out for a run, and so much more. Well, luckily enough, an indoor rowing machine is the solution to all of these problems and the supreme form of exercise, whether it be at the gym or home.

You may be wondering, what are the benefits of a rowing machine? An indoor rower helps you burn calories, get fit, and strengthen and tone your muscles. Being compact and home-friendly, an indoor rower can provide a full body workout, offering all you need to get in great shape.

In this article we'll explain the biggest benefits of having a rowing machine.

1. Burn calories and lose weight

Indoor rowing machines are one of the most effective tools to burn calories and achieve weight loss.

How do you lose weight?

Your weight is dependent on several variables: your body type, calorie consumption, and calorie expenditure. Thus, the number of calories you need to consume to maintain your weight depends on how much you eat and how much you exercise. If you eat the same portions and exercise more, or in this case, exercise smarter, then you will lose weight.

Are rowing machines good for burning calories and weight loss?

Rowing machines are great when it comes to burning calories, which leads to effective weight loss.

While rowing, you recruit almost all of your body muscles to work and complete the motions. Unlike other sports such as running, rowing is a full-body action that performs aerobic, cardio, and resistance functions all at once. On top of this, rowing also burns more calories than running and causes minimal injuries, allowing you to row more in the long-term.

The amount of calories that you can potentially burn is based on body weight, exercise length, and exercise intensity. Rowing machines have the ability to untap your maximum calorie-burning potential, melting the weight off your body with every stroke.

You are probably wondering, can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine? Rowing is good for burning fat from your entire body. It is extremely difficult to spot-reduce fat from one area of your body, but you can lose weight to lower your overall fat percentage, reducing that stubborn belly fat as well!

2. Strengthen and tone muscles

Rowing machines are known to be good for building and toning your muscles. Did you know that 86% of your muscles are activated as you row? This makes rowing one of the most effective full-body workouts out there.

With proper technique, almost every muscle group is worked as you row. Below are the muscles activated while rowing, according to body part.

Lower body:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Calves

Upper body:

  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Wrist extensors and flexors
  • Pecs
  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius muscles


  • Abs
  • Obliques

Toning, the act of developing lean muscles through exercise, is one of the most well-sought benefits of rowing. Toning itself is a biological process known as hypertrophy. As you exercise, muscles tear and grow back bigger during rest, especially while sleeping. This process is called the SRA curve, consisting of stimulus, recovery, and adaptation. To grow more muscle and get toned, make sure that you rest for a sufficient amount of time between training sessions.

3. Cardiovascular strength and fitness

If you’ve ever tried indoor rowing before, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that it is one of the most tiring machines that you could have ever laid your hands on. Within seconds of rowing, you’re already breathing heavy and getting your heart pumping like crazy.

Ever wonder why rowing is so effective at burning calories? It’s not just the fact that it utilizes nearly every major muscle group in the body. The rowing motion itself, done repeatedly over and over at a challenging pace, is something that significantly challenges your heart and lungs. While a cardio sport, rowing also tests your stamina, breathing, and everything in between to ensure that you’re getting worked to the bone.

After consistent rowing for a few weeks, you’ll feel significantly stronger and fitter. A flight of stairs will be a piece of cake, and going out for a light jog will feel like it’s nothing. Indoor rowing can’t be beaten as the ultimate full-body workout.

4. Low impact exercise

For all those suffering from knee pain, creaky elbows, tight shoulders and more, then rowing is the fantastic alternative to other forms of aerobic exercise.

Without the jumping, leaping and hopping characteristic of regular sport, rowing is low impact and perfect for keeping injury levels at a low. Rowing causes less stress on the joints and actually improves joint health by strengthening the muscles surrounding them.

And, you can easily control your movement, pace and session length while rowing. The rowing machine can cater to all of your needs to prevent injury.

5. Foldable indoor rowers don’t take up too much space

The indoor rower can create a stress and clutter-free experience at home. After all, out of mind, out of sight!

These machines may take up a lot of space when sprawled in the middle of your living room, but that’s only for about 4% of your day. When not in use, you can actually fold up your rower and store it elsewhere. Indoor rowers don’t take up a lot of closet space once folded and neatly tucked away, making them a much-preferred home machine compared to the gargantuan treadmill.

Tips for making your rowing workout more effective

There are many ways to maximize the benefits of your rowing session. If you incorporate these into your workout, then don’t be surprised to see results within just a couple of weeks of rowing.

Utilise good rowing form

Your rowing form can make or break your rowing session. Poor form can lead to the wrong muscles overworking, causing injury and leaving you on the couch indefinitely. Start strict, thinking about your form with every stroke. Eventually, the strokes will come naturally as your body gets used to rowing itself. If you don’t have anyone at home to critique, then another good way to make sure you’re rowing correctly is to take a video of yourself.

First and foremost, you need to ensure that your core is engaged as you row. This will check most of the boxes for proper rowing form.

Then, sit tall, as if a string is lightly pulling you from the top of your head. Keep your shoulders down and back without rounding. With each stroke, keep your gaze forward as you drive into your heels. The rowing stroke is composed of three stages:

  1. Pushing your legs
  2. Leaning back, maintaining proper posture
  3. Pulling your arms back

These motions shouldn’t blend together. Each stage should be easily identified in your stroke.


Much like with regular home workouts, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) has been proven to burn more calories compared to longer, lower intensity workouts.

So, how can you incorporate HIIT into your rowing session? Rowing intensity can be adjusted by rowing with different strokes for varying intervals. For example, you can row five power strokes, followed by five recovery strokes on repeat. A power stroke is a stronger, heavier pull performed at the same rhythm. On an air rowing machine, the faster you pull, the more resistance is created. A recovery stroke is slower and easier to perform.

HIIT rowing sessions shouldn’t be the only type of workout you perform. Mix it up and keep your sessions varied; sometimes endurance, sometimes HIIT. This way, you’ll ensure continual growth and improvement.


The indoor rower is one of the most powerful tools for weight loss, toning your body, and getting in shape. They’re suitable for the home and a better alternative to running on a treadmill. So, if you want to become fit, indoor rowers are the way to go. Next up, you should check out our ultimate guide to buying a rowing machine to work out which rower is right for you.

For the rest of your man cave needs and desires, why not explore our site or head over to the Rowing Machines section to see more posts and recommended products!

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Co-founder at The Home Gym Guide

Dreams of having his own fully-specced home gym one day. Louis keeps in shape by going for runs around South London, doing spin classes at the local gym, and fitting in home workouts whenever he can.