What Does a Rowing Machine Do For Your Body? You Need to Know This!

This is a guest post from Mark Roose. Mark Roose is an educated fitness coach with a master degree in Sports Education and more than 9 years of working in the fitness industry.

“I love doing and teaching fitness because, in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health back into their own hands” – Mark Roose

With our busy lives and hectic schedules these days, it has become so hard to exercise. In fact, about 77% of American adults do not get enough exercise!

If you are one of them, let me introduce you to the rowing machine: a convenient, fast, and fun way to get a full-body workout at home! In this article, we will discuss what does a rowing machine do for your body as well as the many health benefits using one can offer.

So, what are you waiting for? Read on to find out more!

The Four Phases of a Rowing Stroke

Rowing has been labeled by many as one of the perfect all-around exercises out there because it offers an intense full body workout. Unlike other machine-based exercises, rowing targets nine various muscle groups including 86% of the body’s major muscles. This makes it great for gaining and toning muscles.

Rowing also works on the core, lower body, and upper body muscles at the same time. To get a better look at the way exercising using a rowing machine, let us go through the four phases of a rowing stroke below:

1. The Catch

The starting phase of a rowing stroke is called the catch, in which the user and the seat are closest to the front part of the machine. To perform this phase, you bend the knees close to your chest with your shins kept straight up and facing down.

Your arms should be held out straight in front of you with a shoulder width distance in between as you slightly hinge your hips forward and engage the core. The catch targets the deltoids, calves, lower back, triceps, abdominals, trapezius, and hamstrings.

2. The Drive

The next phase of the rowing stroke called the drive starts as you push your body away from the front foot plates until your legs are almost extended completely. From this position, use your hip hinge and core to push your torso into an upright position.

Engage your back, arms, and shoulders to pull the handle towards your chest, sternum, or ribcage. Do all this in one swift, fluid motion.

This phase engages a bunch of upper body muscles including the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, forearms, upper back, biceps, and pecs. It also makes use of the lower body muscles like the hamstrings, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, and glutes as your abs and mid-back muscles stabilize the core.

3. The Finish

The third phase of a rowing stroke utilizes your core muscles in stabilizing the body as you hinge backward at the hips. Use this momentum to completely stretch your legs and pull the handle all the way to your chest.

There will be an internal rotation in your upper arms to simulate a rowing motion. This phase heavily works on the abdominal muscles, the forearms and biceps, and the shoulder muscles like the deltoids, lats, and traps.

The leg extension part also requires you to contract your quads and glutes.

4. The Recovery

The actual final and finishing phase, the recovery, is basically a reversal of the previous steps. It begins by extending the arms out toward the front, keeping them parallel to the floor.

Then, hinge forward from the hips as you bend your knees by using the hamstrings to propel you forward. Keep going forward until you are back to the “catch” position.

Make sure to control your movements during this phase in order to be able to activate the muscle groups like the forearms, calves, deltoids, abs, traps, and hamstrings. This is also the only phase that engages the triceps.

Aside from the major muscles worked by each phase, they also utilize the muscles of the chest, neck, and hands. This means that rowing can activate all major skeletal muscles in the body.

To know the correct rowing stroke, please watch this video

Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine

Rowing also offers many other health and fitness benefits, which are listed below:

  • It is a good way to burn calories. Depending on the intensity of your workout, level of resistance, body composition, and your current overall body weight, rowing exercises help you burn an average of 600 calories per hour.
  • It helps you lose weight, tones your muscles, and boost your energy levels.
  • A rowing machine is easy and convenient to use.
  • Rowing poses a much lower risk of injuries than running or lifting provided that you do not add too much resistance. The ideal resistance should allow you to easily finish 3 sets of 15 reps each.
  • It is a low-impact, non-weight-bearing workout that is easy on the joints, making it a good option for older people and those with mobility problems due to pain, disease, or injury.
  • It offers a full-body workout by targeting almost all of the body’s major muscle groups.
  • It helps you gain upper body strength, endurance, stamina, and overall fitness.
  • It boosts your metabolism and improves your body’s ability to produce and use energy.
  • It offers many cardiovascular benefits such as regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.
  • It improves circulation as well as heart and lung function.
  • It is a type of aerobic exercise which means it strengthens your lungs’ ability to breathe and your body’s ability to use and distribute oxygen efficiently.
  • It is highly customizable in terms of duration, intensity, resistance, and speed. You can adjust the pace at which you perform the exercises and the resistance levels depending on the type of workout that is appropriate for your fitness level.


So, what does a rowing machine do for your body? Well, it does a lot! Not only does it work the muscles of both your upper and lower body but it also improves your cardiovascular health, promotes good posture, and help you lose or maintain weight.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out this rowing machine vs elliptical comparison to learn about which is the best for you!

To learn more about the Endurance by Body-Solid R300 Indoor Rower, visit our product page at bodysolid.com/home/r300/endurance_rower, email sales@bodysolid.com or call (800) 833-1227.

Author: Body-Solid

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