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What Does a Rowing Machine Do For Your Body?

What Does a Rowing Machine Do For Your Body“What does a rowing machine do for your body?”

Is this the thought that runs through your mind as you walk past one in the gym?

Each piece of equipment in a gym has a specific purpose for your body.

So you begin to go through each piece.

Free weights and weight machines are for strength training. Treadmills, ellipticals and bikes are for cardiovascular exercise.

But rowing machines? What is their purpose?

If you don’t know, you’re not alone! Apparently most people are unaware of what it does for your body because I rarely see anyone in a health club using them.

Simply put – a rowing machine is your body’s best friend. They give your entire body a thorough workout inside and out (literally).

Here’s a short list of what a rowing machine does for your body:

A Rowing Machine Provides a Full-Body Workout

One of the rowing machine’s claims to fame is it’s fantastic for working out your whole body.

Your upper and lower body are required to complete a full rowing stroke. This is a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it.

It’s a good thing because you’ll be getting a solid workout that’s guaranteed to get you sweating.

It’s a “bad thing” because unlike an elliptical, you can’t cheat! Meaning, on an elliptical you can let go of the handles to give your arms a rest but still “keep going”.  On a rowing machine, you must use your entire body to complete a full stroke every time!

Okay, it’s not really a “bad thing”! It’s really a good thing since the rower forces you to give it your all, the whole time, without taking any shortcuts!

A rowing machine is one of the few machines on the market that truly works out your entire body.

Muscles Worked on Rowing Machine

The images below highlight the phases of a rowing motion and the muscles engaged during a single rowing stroke:

What does a rowing machine do for your body

The “Catch”- Muscles worked:  Erector Spinae, Gastrochnemius and Soleus, and Hamstrings.

What does a rowing machine do for your body

Start of The “Drive”-  Muscles worked:  Erector Spinae, Rhomboids, Quadriceps, Gastrochnemius and Soleus, and Hamstrings.

What does a rowing machine do for your body

The “Drive”-  Muscles worked:   Erector Spinae, Rectus Abdominus, Triceps, Rhomboids, Deltoids, Trapezius, Pectoralis Major, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Gastrochnemius and Soleus.

What does a rowing machine do for your body

The “Finish”  Muscles worked:   Erector Spinae, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Triceps, Biceps, Deltoids, Pectoralis Major, Rectus Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Quadriceps, and Hamstrings.

(Images credit:  Concept2 UK, http://concept2.co.uk/rower/muscle_groups)

If you want to see a complete breakdown of all the muscles used while performing a full rowing stroke check out my full muscle breakdown article.

You can also continue reading below to see the best full-body rowing machine workouts.

A Rowing Machine Provides The Ultimate Cardiovascular Exercise

In a nutshell, cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is an activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it at that elevated heart rate for a period of time.

According to Dictionary.com, aerobic exercises are “any of various sustained exercises, such as jogging, rowing, swimming, or cycling, that stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s utilization of oxygen.”

Anyone who uses a rowing machine knows that they stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs!

Rowing Ultimate Cardiovascular Exercise

Whether it’s when you push off with your legs or use your upper-body to pull the handle to your midsection, a rower requires use of all muscle groups. Your entire body is working which will easily get your heart rate up and keep it there.

This makes rowing extremely efficient at burning calories and shedding fat, since your whole body has to work – the entire time!

I wrote about rowing machines and fat burning in the the article Will A Rowing Machine Help Me Lose Weight?

Since rowing is done at a pace where you’re able to perform the exercise for several minutes at a time without stopping, it’s ideal for aerobic exercise and strengthening your muscles.

Rowers can also perform HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to incorporate anaerobic exercises into their routine as well!

Being able to perform full body aerobic and anaerobic exercises is one of the main reasons people love using rowing machines!

Adjustable Resistance Allows for Different Cardio Workouts

The ability to switch between aerobic and anaerobic workouts is also easy because most rowers come with adjustable or variable resistance.

For example, if you want to have an aerobic workout but you’re concerned about having enough stamina to finish, you can lower the resistance or row at a slower pace to make each rowing stroke easier. The energy you preserve can then be used later to help complete the workout.

You can also increase the resistance or row faster to get a killer anaerobic workout!

Rowing Is Low Impact and Non-Weight Bearing 

Another less known claim to fame for a rower is it’s low-impact and non-weight bearing because rowing is performed while sitting down.

Rowing is ideal for everyone but this makes a rowing machine even more beneficial. Especially for people with weak joints and people rehabilitating after surgery.

Rowing Machine for Knee Pain

High-impact activities such as playing sports that involve a great deal of running and jumping put a lot of stress on your joints and is weight bearing since you have to support the weight of your body.

These activities are terrible for people with bad knees and ankles.

Even if you currently don’t have any bad joints, you might eventually. Especially if you always participate in high-impact activities.  So mix your workout up with a low-impact exercise like rowing!

Best Rowing Machine Exercises

Now that we know a rowing machine provides a low impact full-body cardiovascular exercise, we need to know which exercises are the best!

Lucky for us a brand new book named The Erg Book was written with over 375 of the best indoor rowing machine exercises.

‘The Short and Snarky Coxswains’ teamed up with Peter Cannia to provide an informative and humorous book about an otherwise very boring subject.

What Does a Rowing Machine do for your body

The book is great for rowers of all experience levels and fitness types.  Here is what you will see inside:

  • 375+ of the best indoor rowing workouts
  • 14-week indoor training plan
  • Rowing machine technique tips
  • Best body circuit exercises
  • Much, much more…

The book is easy to navigate and it is simple to find a workout that fits your specific needs on any given day. You can click the photo or this link for a full review and sample of the book.

Final Thoughts

The next time you ask yourself “what does a rowing machine do for your body?”, you now know that it:

  • Provides a solid full-body workout

  • Is a superior source for aerobic and anaerobic exercises

  • Is efficient at burning calories and shedding fat

  • Preserves your joints by providing a high-intensity, low-impact and non-weight bearing workout

You are guaranteed to get a gut-wrenching, heart-pumping workout from a rowing machine.  They are suitable for all fitness levels, from a complete beginner to a seasoned Olympic athlete. Plus, they have no age limit!

So get out there and start getting a full body workout on a rowing machine!!!

Now it’s your turn to share! Tell us in the comment section below: What does a rowing machine do for your body?

With your new knowledge of how beneficial a rowing machine is to your body you can begin to read rowing machine reviews! Check out the two pages below for help choosing a rowing machine.

Check out my rowing machine comparison page to compare all the different models.

You can also visit the rowing machine concierge page, where you can fill out a form and I’ll choose a model for you!


  1. Edwin, I stumbled on your fabulous site by accident, and I’m so glad I did! To be honest, I hate exercise for the sake of exercise. I love cycling, hiking, and enjoyed cross-country skiing as a teen, but I live in a place where I can’t do any of those. I’ve tried the gym routine, and hated it. The only machine I ever enjoyed was the rower, so I’m so glad to hear I can get a great whole-body workout. My question is this: if it is non-weight bearing, I’m still going to need something else to build/maintain bone. I only have room for one machine, so I’ll invest in a great rower. What do you recommend I do for weight-bearing exercise? Something easy, doesn’t take much space (it will have to be indoors most of the year), and might actually be fun?

    1. Mary Ann,

      Thanks for checking in and I hope you choose a great rower! You are correct in that you need to supplement your rowing with some weight bearing exercising to help build and maintain bone density. Especially important for women! Based on your requirements of limited space, being indoors, and being fun I would definitely go with a kettle-bell workout. They are an amazing way to build functional strength, have 101 uses, and are inexpensive. When many health professionals are asked “If you could only perform one workout for the rest of your life, what would it be?”, many respond with a kettle-bell swing or turkish get-up (which is a kettle-bell exercise).

      I would purchase a kettle-bell from a local store unless you can receive free shipping from something like Amazon Prime. I have heard good things about this Beginners Iron Core Kettlebell DVD and for advanced workouts I recommend The Extreme Kettlebell Cardio Workout.

      Let me know if you need anything else and check out my reviews to help you select a rower!

      Thanks a bunch!


      1. Hello Edwin, your article is quite informative. So I had surgery August 2019 to stop nerve damage on my left arm, of course with covid I stopped physical therapy for a while. Now I’ve lost all tone in that arm and have balance issues. My question is since a rower is good for a full body workout, will I be able to use one as I technically have no strength in my left arm? I bought the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Rower with 12 Level Adjustable Resistance from Amazon yesterday

        1. Yes! It might be a little awkward at first but you should be able to row with some muscle imbalances.

    2. I did rowing when I was doing a 6 week challenge with crossfit. This is when I realized that I loved this machine and was amazed at how I felt when I completed it. I notice a big difference in my body, muscle, strengthen etc.. I just signed up at the roger rec center where I live & I headed straight to the rowing machine. I too, my iPod nano with me so that I can listen to music while rowing as this keeps me focus. I want to get another 20 to 25 pounds off of my, get rid of the day, strenghtn up my back, core, get the muscle back into my.bady into my back which this will really help my back as well as lose the stomach. While I am rowing at the gym in fron & down is the swimming pool, so m picturing myself swimming, listen to music & rowing. I am hoping within 1 month the stomach is gone, and have build up strenghtn in my lower back, as well. As toned the muscles in my legs not to mention the fat disappearing from me. I am hoping that with me using the rowing machine helps get the blood flow coming back up my left leg and on the inner side of my left leg calf that I start losing this egg/lump. I’m also hoping the rowing will help me with the arthitis in my back, feet and hands.

  2. Hi Edwin,
    I as well have stumbled unto this site. I have just recently started using the rowing machine at my gym. I hate working out and I’m not in good shape. But I have already seen great results from using the rowing machine a couple times a week. I have two questions. Is a workout on a rowing machine good for someone with arthritis? My husband needs a low impact workout for his joints. And is a rowing machine something that you would invest in buying and skip the gym membership? If we purchase it, can we get a well rounded workout with it? Thanks!!

    1. Jill,

      I’m glad to hear you have been seeing great results from using a rowing machine. Rowing machines are great for people with arthritis because they are non weight bearing machines. I myself started rowing because I started having joint problems. Rowing machines also provide a full range of motion workout and a great weight loss exercise, both of which are good for arthritis. There are a few things to take into account when looking for a rowing machine for someone with arthritis.

      First, purchase an air or water rower. They provide the smoothest rowing motion which makes it easier on joints and you can adjust the resistance to make it very easy for your husband and harder when you are using it. Second, make sure the machine has a comfortable bar handle, which most air and water rowers do. This will make it easier to grip and row. The Concept2 Model D is the best machine in my opinion, see my review here or visit my rowing machine comparison chart and sort for air and water rowers.

      If you are just looking for a good cardiovascular workout and light strength training then I would say it is ok to skip the gym. Rowing machines provide the best all-around workout over any other gym equipment. A gym is only beneficial if you want a variety of weight lifting machines and different cardio machines like ellipticals and bikes. I would definitely consult with a physician about your husband also. There are some types of arthritis that doctors would not recommend using a rowing machine for and I am not a doctor :) .

      I hope this helped and best off luck to you and your husband! let me know if you have any other questions.


      1. Thanks so much for this informative site. I first tried the rowing machine when I did CrossFit. I can’t afford CrossFit anymore, but would like to continue rowing. You mentioned choosing a water or air rower. Between the two, which is better, water or air, and why? Thanks again for the great information.

          1. Hi could you please help me. if I used a rowing machine to tone up . would I need to do weight lifting to build legs as well. what will my body look like if I only use a rowing machine. im 70 kilos now and I want to get to 76 kilos of muscle.

          2. Hi Stephen,

            If you are looking to build strength/muscle the best/fastest way would be to do heavy squats/deadlifts for low reps. Rowing will 100% build lean muscle but supplementing it with a good weight lifting program will help. You can look up photos of Olympic rowers and you will see what it will look like to combine weight training with a lot of rowing.

            So in short, rowing will build lean muscles and will get you more toned. It may not add 6 kilos of muscle, depending on your current body type, so a good weight lifting program will help get you there.

            Also, you have to realize there is sometimes a difference between building strength, stamina, and size. Each required a different type of training.

            Stamina can be achieved by doing long steady-state exercises or HIIT exercises. Strength can be achieved by lifting heavy weights at low repetition. Size can be achieved a number of different ways but relies on tearing your muscle fibers and healing them. You can look up muscle hypertrophy is you are interested in gaining mass.

  3. Wow, this is amazing. I never knew how great the rowing machine was. I’ve been using it quite frequently for a year now and I’ve started to see a big difference in my muscle mass.

    1. Yes, in my opinion the rowing machine is the best complete body workout workout machine! Glad to see you agree!

        1. After exercising for an extended period of time it takes much more to become sore. I normally do not get sore either after doing a regular workout.

          You would need to do a different exercise and work your muscles in a different way to get sore.

  4. Hello! I landed on your website while searching for information on rowing. I try and row 1000 meters before and 1000 meters after my workout. That is only 10 minutes of rowing. What is the ideal time to spend on the machine? I have lots of fat to lose! :) Thanks!

    1. Hi Dawn!

      There really is no ideal time to spend on the rowing machine because it also depends on what you are doing when you say you are working out. Most people spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour rowing. There are a lot of factors that come into play when losing weight such as sleep and stress but the main two are eating healthy and burning calories through exercise. I wrote these 2 articles about losing weight on a rowing machine: Losing Weight on a Rowing Machine and Burning Calories on a Rowing Machine.

      Please check them out and let me know what you think!

  5. Thank you for a wonderful article. I absolutly love using my rowing machine with my weights machine. Its great to know I am getting a complete workout with all my muscles and dont need to go to gym. Im very over weight and have started doing 10mins a day to get my fitness alot better. My question is how long should I work up to a day?
    Thank uou again for the article :)

    1. Charlene,

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed my article. As far as how long you should work up to a day is really up to you. I would say to try to increase your total workout every week by 10 minutes until you reach 1 hour a day. The key is to listen to your body and make sure you don’t overdue it but still push yourself every workout.

      If you work up to 1 hour a day while eating a good diet, I can guarantee you will see positive results. Here are 2 other articles of mine that you may find useful:

      Losing Weight While rowing
      Burning Calories While Rowing

      I hope this helped and let me know if you need anything else :)

      1. I love this article, it provided a lot of information. I do have one question. I have lost 80 pounds the past year doing keto. I’m still doing keto. If I to the high intensity rowing workout (says it burns stored carbs) would I need to increase my carb? With the keto diet I eat no more than 20 carbs per day

        1. Hi Carrie – thanks for reaching out!

          I wouldn’t increase my carbs and would stick to the keto diet (like they say – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!). The keto diet seems to be working very well so that is great to hear!

          Your body will use the fats you are eating for energy so no need for more carbs!

  6. Hi, Yours is the first website that showed me clearly which muscles are worked on the rowing machine, thanks I started in the gym about six months ago, instinctually I felt the rowing machine made sense. I do 30 mins (at the moment) and advised by a tainer to do 30sec fast and 30sec slow. I do the same on the cross trainer and I also do some rounds of abs work between the machines. I can see a huge difference in my body. The fat I hated was on my back. Being a woman wearing bras!! there always seemed to be lumps and bumps. Now I wear sweaters and it’s all smooth. I wasn’t overweight, but needed to firm up being in my fifties and had injured my leg. I can’t praise rowing machines enough. I go 2-3 times a week and it’s enough.

    1. Brenda,

      I’m so glad to hear that rowing has had a positive impact on your life!! Also, thank you for the feedback, I love hearing from my readers.

      Is there any other topic that you would like me to cover? I’m always looking for new ideas to write about. I was thinking about doing an even better breakdown of the muscles used on a rowing machine.

      Let me know what you think and thanks again!!

        1. Hi Carrie – it may because it strengthens the core in general but I think doing specific exercises to target this muscle is best. I would google “pelvic floor muscle exercises” for the best options.

  7. Just yesterday I decided to try the row machine. I had no interest about this equipment until I read your site. What an amazing machine! My orthopedic dr instructed me to take it easy on my feet. I have plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and little arthritis on both feet. He instructed me to do low impact exercises and to stay away from treadmills or anything that involves pounding on my feet. This row machine feels safe for my feet. My question to you: as a beginner, what moderate workout plans can you share with me? I’m only doing 15 minutes with breaks in between. Don’t feel it’s a suffient workout for my daily routine. I’m 46 yrs old and I know I can do more.

    1. Diana,

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed my site and decided to start rowing!! I would continue to build up the amount of time you row until you reach about 30-45 minutes. When you reach this time you can begin to vary your strokes per minute by rowing harder / faster. If you have a heart rate monitor I would begin to try to hit your maximum target heart rate which you can find here at Heart.org.

      Also check out this article of mine for some rowing workouts and my article on burning calories while using a rowing machine.

      I plan on doing some more articles for people interested in different workouts and losing weight. Let me know if you have any ideas for topics!?

      Thanks :)

  8. hi,

    I discovered the rowing machine last week. Have used it everyday since. I love it,love it. Thanks for the insights,will try the programme suggested. I’m hoping to get rid of back fat and have a defined tummy.

    i would also love to hear your insights on dumbell exercise.


    1. Njeri,

      Glad to hear you are enjoying your rowing machine and good luck with the program! I think exercising with dumbbells is a great supplement to rowing. Building muscle will help you look more toned and burn more calories. If you want, check out my article on how building muscles burns more calories. Lifting weights also helps with increasing bone density which is also a good thing.

      Let me know how the program goes and if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask! :)

  9. I’m so glad that I found this! I’ve been struggling with cardio workouts because I have a bad spine and problems in my feet and knees. The elliptical and incumbent bike are fine, but after doing only those for cardio for quite some time I am bored. I do them anyway.

    The treadmill, even power walking on it, kills me. I tried taking up running last year and it was a disaster. I purchased great shoes for my foot type from a running store, but I still ended up in a lot of pain. I was making good progress with running and it saddened me to let it go, but I had to.

    Swimming is great, but it’s winter!

    You gave me another cardio exercise to get into at the gym that’s high-intensity but low impact.

    I’m 42 and about 15 pounds overweight. But, I’ve lost 50 pounds. Pregnancy disabled me because of my spine issues and I had to lay around for months each time. Plus, I ate too much. Ha ha. Anyway, after two kids in 3 years I found myself overweight. I won’t be having anymore kids and I will get into great shape!

    1. Rachael,

      I’m glad you enjoy the site and have found rowing to be an enjoyable exercise! There are so many great benefits of rowing and I’m happy to see so many people starting to see how great it is!!

      I also found rowing due to injuries and love it for all the same reasons you do. I even purchased good running shoes but still had joint problems. One thing you may find interesting to look into is developing foot strength. A lot of times shoes act as a cast to our feet and make our feet weak over time. This can lead us to have joint issues and knee pains. Try walking around barefoot and even rowing barefoot to start to regain some foot strength!!

      Anyway, just thought you may find that interesting :) . Good luck with your rowing experience and thank you for the comment! Happy rowing!

      1. Hi Edwin,

        Cool site, thanks!

        I started using a rowing machine at the gym about 11 years ago and a year later I purchased a water rower, which I’ve had great success with until last year when the tank started to leak. I have finally gotten it repaired and am so happy to have it back. If you have little time for exercise it’s also a great choice.

        Also, thanks for mentioning that athletic shoes can sometimes cause problems. Most people don’t know this and I think it’s a serious concern.

        1. Hi Jen,

          Thank you so much for the kind words! It means a lot to me :)

          I’m glad you were able to get your WaterRower fixed and get back to rowing!

  10. Hello Edwin.

    Which Is Best Rowing machine ? Is that “Concept2 Model D” or “Concept2 Model E” little bit I’m confuse to choosing between 2 rower. What is you suggestion between them ?

    Jonathan Steve

  11. I have been crossfiting for about 5 months and we do a lot of running. But in December I was in a bad car accident and had a tear on one of my vertebral disc. Well thank God for chiropractic I’m back to crossfit. However, instinctively I had no desire to do the running because of the axial pressure and pounding on my joints. I started rowing about 4 weeks ago since I’ve been back and now I’m hooked! Even for as much as I know about the body I was like dang it why are my adductors sore….it was the rowing! I’m feeling strong ALL over because it is a total body smack down. Thanks for posting this awesome article I will be sharing it with everyone ??

    1. Jen,

      Sorry to hear you were in a car accident but I’m glad you found rowing to be so enjoyable! So many people want to run but can’t because of the stress it causes on our body and joints. I wish they would try rowing and realize how amazing it is!

      A knee injury caused me to start rowing and it even helped cure my injury. I want to write an article about the benefits of rowing over running and how rowing can actually help heal running related injuries.

      Anyway, thank you for the kind words and thank you so much for sharing! I really enjoy when my articles help people. If you ever want any questions answered feel free to ask and I will be more than happy to do the research and write a post about it :)

  12. I am 63 and recently discovered I have moderate to severe osteoarthritis in one shoulder (clavicular joint I think). Any idea if the rowing machine would be good to use in this case?

    1. Lynne,

      To be honest I really do not know if a rowing machine would be good or not. In my research over the years I have read that exercise and resistance training can help people with OA by reducing pain and increasing strength and mobility. Rowing machines are often mentioned as great pieces of equipment for people with OA because they provide a smooth, even resistance throughout the entire range of motion and the resistance can be adjusted from very light to hard. I am obviously biased towards rowing machines but I do believe they are a great way to provide low-impact exercise.

      I would first consult with your doctor (because I am not one :) ) and see what their opinion is and then maybe visit a gym with a rower and see how you like it. If you feel it is a good fit then maybe you can justify spending the money to buy one.

      There are a lot of great articles on the internet about exercising with OA and different supplements that can help as well. Doing some research there may help find more clarity.

      Good luck and feel free to ask me anything else!

  13. I just started working out may 5th. I am a very skinny…just 5’7″(people think I’m taller because of my super skinny legs) and 120 pounds. My main reason for working out was to get a better but. I’d also like to gain some muscle mass. So far I have focused mainly on the stair climber (I do 40 floors) and the rower (which I instantly fell in love with) I started with 15 minutes. The second time 25 minutes. 3rd time 35 minutes. My big worry about losing weight. I have started to up my protein to at least 120 per day. Which I believe is per my weight. Also trying to up my calories. But I’m already finding it hard so today I bought my first protein bar. My questions are… am I doing enough to get a great butt and how do I gain mass and not lose weight. I thank you for any advice.

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Thanks for asking these great questions! I will start with, how to gain lean muscle mass? To gain muscle mass you will have to eat more calories than you burn and also take in about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (so you were correct!). Rowing will definitely help build lean muscle mass but it really depends on how much lean muscle you want. I would continue to try to gain weight by eating a higher calorie, healthy diet and rowing. See if you like the results and if you want to add more muscle you will have to incorporate bodyweight/ weight training into your program.

      I would do a google search on “how to gain lean muscle mass” to read some in-depth articles about this topic. Here are two Bodybuilding.com articles about how many calories to eat and what foods to eat. I also wrote an article about rowing machines and calories burned if you want to check it out.

      A rowing machine is a great way to add muscle to your glutes and it is one of the main muscle groups targeted. Click here to check out my article showing each muscle targeted by a rowing machine. I would continue rowing to gain lean muscle mass and also supplement with some bodyweight exercises. For upper body lean muscle mass I would recommend pushups and pull-ups, two of the best bodyweight exercises. To specifically target your glutes there are a ton of easy bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, bridges, rear leg raises, etc. Just Google and YouTube search “glute workout for women”. There are endless articles and videos that go way more in depth than I can in this comment.

      I hope this information helped! This was a very short answer to questions that have entire books written about them. Please let me know if you have any other questions :)

  14. HI! Thank you very much for the informative read. The rowing machine is perfect for me! Tore my acl a year ago and had no idea of its benefits to the legs as well. I am 22 and not really in to the whole gym work, and happen to have a rowing machine at home along with some free weights and a bench. Was hoping if you could help me put together a weekly routine for some muscle definition. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Stefan,

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the rowing machine! There are so many ways to put together a training program and your program should evolve and change over time. I can provide you with an example week that you can follow for the first month or two. In this time I would continue doing research on different routines and begin creating a plan that works best for you. As you start working out you will begin to understand what workouts you like and provide you the most benefit.

      Day 1: Free weights and bench- Look up different workouts you can do with your equipment that can target the chest, back, shoulders, and legs. Then rotate between these workouts doing 5 sets of 10 reps each. So for example:

      -Chest: 10 reps of bench press
      -Back: 10 reps of bent over rows
      -Shoulders: 10 reps of ‘Arnold Press’
      -Legs: 10 reps of squats holding weights

      You can then repeat this 5 times.

      Day 2: Long Row- Row at a moderate pace for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Get a good stretch in after your workout.

      Day 3: Speed and Power Row- 1 minute of hard rowing, followed by 30 seconds of easier rowing. Repeat four times for one set then take a break of 3 minutes before starting the next set. Do as many sets as you can.

      Day 4: Rest and Recovery- Do a long stretch and rest.

      Day 5, 6, 7- Repeat the first 3 days of the week. You can modify your weight exercises by doing different workouts but keep the rotation of Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs. You can also modify the Speed and Power row by doing something like 3 minutes of hard rowing followed by 2 minutes of easy and repeating this.

      I hope this base week can give you something to work off of. Remember to just have fun with it and always push yourself. Feel free to ask me any questions or email me if you need more details. Cheers!

  15. Hi, I’m 10 stone and really want to lose weight from my stomach, arms and legs, how long do you think I should go on the rowing machine and will it work? will I be lean and thin?

    1. Aisha,

      I am positive that a good rowing machine program and clean diet will result in you losing weight. I talk about 2 different workouts in my article on rowing to lose weight.

      I would start by working out as long as you feel comfortable and building on your intensity/ time each workout. Remember that diet is a key component of weight loss and is ultimately the most important.

      Just remain positive, enthusiastic, and consistent!

  16. Hi I’m Ben.
    I’m currently rowing 20,000 m on average a day (5-6) days a week. Burning around 570 cals every 10,000m
    Will rowing alone allow me to lose weight and tone up ? Ideally I want to get a six pack but have doubts that this can be achieved from rowing alone ?

    1. Hi Ben,

      Yes, rowing alone will 100% help you lose weight and become more tone. You definitely need to make sure you are eating a healthy diet first and supplementing this with a good rowing machine workout. There are plenty of people who workout everyday but are still overweight due to a poor diet.

      I like to do body weight exercises with my rowing workouts to add a little more mass and specifically target certain muscles like my chest and core. Two quick videos I do once a week are this 10 minute chest workout and this 10 minute core workout.

      Check out my article on losing weight with a rowing machine and watch the video with Gerald Butler. He talks about how a rowing machine was the key to getting ripped for the movie 300.

      Hope this info helped and good luck!

  17. I have tried many exercise machines in my days i am 56 yr old Woman ..
    Rowing machine gives me everything i need ..
    I had many health probs and my physical condition was not too crash hot .
    Rowing has given it all back to me .
    You just need to keep doing it no matter what..
    At least four/ five times a week ..
    Best investment i ever made

    1. Hi Coleen and Edwin, I am the same age as you Coleen and would like a bit of feedback from you both. I have a waterower and can only manage 10 minutes every other day because my back goes into spasm. I’m hoping to gradually increase my rowing time by only a minute a week. My diet is very good and I have an active job in the OR but can’t seem to get passed the 10 minute mark. Any tips !?

      1. Hi Cath – I would try to focus on stretching first to see if that helps with the spasms. I wouldn’t say it is normal to have back spasms after 20 minutes of rowing.

        I used to have to stretch for 15-30 minutes every day to loosen my hip flexors, which in return elevated my knee and hip pain when running. It was super annoying because all I wanted to do was exercise but I had to put more time into stretching.

  18. How can a rower help with the hamstring? I was in a motorcycle wreck and dislocated my knee and ankle along with a bad hamstring pull. I have full flex in my knee while sitting or standing, when i walk my knee range of motion is dimenished. My insurance company will not approve more rehab and i have a rower and have started using it since my rehab has been cut off.

    1. Hi Sage,

      Sorry to hear about your accident. I’m not a doctor or physical therapist so I’m not sure what exercises will be best for your condition.

      All I know is that a rowing machine will strengthen your hamstring and all the muscles surrounding it. Since rowing is non-weight bearing it would most likely be better than other types of exercise. I know they use rowers a lot in rehab facilities so they do function well for rehabbing injuries but I’m just not sure if yours would be a good example or not.

      I would continue all the same exercises you were doing when you were attending rehab. That is what I did when I injured my knee and couldn’t go to rehab.

  19. Hi,

    I have two herniated discs (L3, L4) that required cortisone injections. The condition has been under control for more than two years and I stretch daily, but do not do a lot of cardio.

    What, if any impact, will a rowing machine like the Concept2 D have on my discs and back, in general?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Fred,

      As you can imagine a rowing machine incorporates a fair amount of lower back movement and exertion. Each stroke you will be leaning forwards and leaning back. Many people can actually develop lower back pain from rowing due to the fair amount of stress it places on a rower’s back. Proper form can minimize this but studies have shown that rowers exhibit a higher percent of lower back pain than the general population.

      I’m not sure how rowing will effect your back but the best way to know would be to try rowing for a few weeks and see how you feel. If you have a gym nearby with a rowing machine that would be ideal. You can also Google search “rowing with lower back pain” and read some of the studies and experiences of other rowers.

      Good luck!

      1. Greetings. I suggest you visit Dr. Fiona Wilson for advise on reducing stress to the lower back while rowing.
        I also recommend the following technique:
        1. Pull as low as possible.
        2. lay back at the catch by pivoting just below the ribs.
        3. Use a 1:1 work:recovery time ratio, at 25 spm or more. Don’t pause anywhere.
        4. Arrange that the legs and arms finish TOGETHER. Hands away quickly to pass the rebounding legs.
        5. 2 breaths per stroke – out at the catch and release.

        Aim for a comfortable rhythm – like a pendulum.
        Have fun.

  20. Hi I am a 53 year old strong woman who has had knee issues my whole life. Can not do any weight bearing exercises at all they kill my knees. I have had both my knees replaced 2 times each. First time in 2009-2011 still have pain can not squat at all or even go down steps properly . I go to the gym 3 times a week and use the rower so I can sit. Can’t really push off with my legs to hard so Can I still get a great workout without using my knees full force?

    1. I also lift some weights as well. I do much better when I can sit it is less painful for my knee joints.

    2. Hi Kim,

      You can definitely still get a good workout without using your knees but you won’t be able to get all the benefits of the full body workout that the rowing machine provides.

      The best thing you may be able to do is fully extend your legs and go through the same rowing stroke with no leg movement. This way you can still get the full upper body workout with the lower back included without any strain on your knees.

      Another machine that may be a little better for your situation is a recumbent bike/rower. I’m not sure if your knees can handle light pedaling while sitting but having the extra back support of this machine could help. The Stamina Conversion II Bike/Rower is one example just so you know what I’m talking about.

      You also said that you have been using the rower at the gym 3x a week so I’m just curious if you think you have been able to get a good workout using it so far?

      1. Not really sure because of limitations but enjoy rowing. I have a recumbent bike and I can pedal with light resistance but want to get more full body than just lower involved. Are you saying keep legs and knee fully extended no bending pushing off and just use arms? Thank you so much for responding I like the concept 2 D . Just want to make sure I can benefit from it because knees are so bad.

        1. Hi Kim,

          Sorry I was under the impression that you could barely push off with your legs so yes I was recommending keeping your legs fully extended. Without being able to fully observe how much you can push off its hard for me to give a good answer.

          I think you will still be able to benefit from a rowing machine as it is the lowest impact full-body workout you can do. I’m not sure what other options you would have for a full-body workout that isn’t weight bearing. I will also respond to your email in more detail

          Thanks :)

  21. Hi. I used to row in an eight at school and have in the last few years started on a rowing machine at the gym. During the summer I swim for 30 to 40 minutes (freestyle) every day but in the winter ( Oct to April here in Cyprus) I go to the gym. I am 65, English so think in kgs, 91kgs at the last weigh in and 6ft 2ins tall. I build up my rowing to some 10 kms at full resistance (4×2500) at a rate of 2.15 mins per 500m. Should I be doing other exercise such as situps, back press, chest press with weights? I have a back that ‘goes out’ every now and then but my rowing technique is still pretty good so there’s not much strain on it. My son tells me your muscles get used to exercise and I should vary the workout more. More HIT bursts etc. What do you think? Thanks.

    1. Hi Charles,

      Those are some great times so your cardio is definitely excellent! I would agree with your son and try to mix in some weights throughout the week. Your body will become very efficient when you consistently do the same workout so it’s good to switch things up.

      I would start with some light weight lifting with some of the workouts you mentioned. Lifting weights is beneficial as you get older to maintain bone density. Since rowing is a non-weight bearing exercise it is actually good to add some “weight-bearing” exercises that help maintain healthy bone density. This is more of a problem for women but it can effect men as well.

      I would start slow with adding a weight lifting routine 1-2 times a week and see how you feel. If you are really interested in full-body functional fitness exercises, I would look into a kettlebell routine. They will give you a great cardio workout but also help build lean muscle and is a weight-bearing exercise. I think it is a perfect supplement to rowing.

  22. Hi,

    I’m in generally good shape, I do two spin classes a week, I feel the burn in the quads but its good. I can stay on the eleptical forever, but I hate running. I really enjoy the rowing machine, but everytime I use it I get dizzy. I also get a similar sensation when lunging. I would love to row more, but once I start feeling dizzy that’s me done for the day !
    Am I doing something wrong, or is there an imbalance somewhere that I should be working on to stabalise the movement ?
    I am doing all the right things in regard to eating about an hour and a half before, and taking sufficent fluid.
    Thanks for any advise you can offer !

    1. Getting dizzy from rowing can be caused by a number of things. Like you mentioned, staying properly hydrated, having enough sugar in your blood, as well as proper nutrition can all help avoid this issue. It can also be from overexerting yourself to where your body is becoming depleted of oxygen.

      The only thing that worries me is you also feel dizzy while lunging. I’m not a doctor so I’m not sure why this could be happening. The back and forth motion of both exercises could be triggering this and maybe it is some form of vertigo? Just a guess.

      I would consult with your doctor and also Google “Getting Dizzy While Rowing”. There are many others who have had the same issue and maybe someone has the correct diagnosis.

      Best of luck!

      1. Thanks for your quick reply.

        I have got Tinitus in my left ear, which I guess could possibly cause a balance / vertigo issue ?? I’ll be sure to check it out and will let you know if I find a solution that works for me.

        Thanks again !!

      2. Maybe it’s benign positional vertigo? I have had this and it is easily fixed with a ‘falling in to the dizziness’ excercise which I’m sure you could look up online.

  23. I recently had to have prolapse surgery. After my recovery the physiotherapist advised me to use a rowing machine, I have startedd off with 10 minutes a day, as the Kettler rowing machine book suggests, I have been using it for a week and cannot believe how much energy this short workout is giving me. I also do a kettle ball swing, but am only allowed to use 5-lbs. I wa so pleased to read your informative article above. Thank you for writing this. I am a senior, so really need to keep in shape.

    1. Awesome, so glad to hear you are receiving positive benefits from rowing! It really is an amazing workout.

      I also have a kettlebell that I use with my rower. Due to rowing not technically being a “weight-bearing” exercise, it is very important to do some exercises, like kettlebells, that promote bone growth and strength. Kettlebells & rowing are the perfect combination!

      Thank you for the compliment and if you ever need anything let me know :)

  24. I have a fixation and fusion of t 12 L 1 and knee osteoarthritis dr says I need a knee replacement I want to avoid this surgery do you think rowing will help me. My erector spinal muscles seem to hurt the mist

    1. Hi Ginger,

      Sorry but I’m just not qualified to say whether or not rowing will help you avoid surgery. I would ask your doctor this question and maybe get a second opinion. You may also want to ask a physical therapist who uses rowing machines for rehabilitation.

      Each person is very different and hard to diagnose a person over the internet. Sorry I can’t offer a better answer.

      Best of luck!

  25. Mr. Rower Expert Edwin,

    I’ve been trying to break the 500m in 90 seconds mark on the concept2 at the gym. However, when I get to around 1 minute of hard rowing, the machine jerks and I no longer get resistance from the machine. I’m 6’4” about 240, but I can’t be breaking the machine, right? So what gives?

    1. Hi Laurance,

      I’d be glad to help. 500m in 90 seconds is quite the goal but with some practice and your hieght and size, it can easily be done.

      I haven’t gone sub 1:30 for 500m for probably a year now because I’ve been doing longer sessions to start training for a triathlon. After reading your comment I decided to give it a whirl and went 1:36 and gassed a little too early. My SPM was 33 and I had the damper at 10. I’m also only 5’8″ 155 lbs so it’s a little harder for me to get as much length and power.

      I felt no sign of the resistance jerking or giving out. I’d have to say there is something wrong with the C2 you are using. They rarely have issues but I have never heard of one giving out like you are describing.

      The only thing I can think of is if the machine is old and has been used a lot, the recoil bungee that retracts the chain could be worn out. Due to you rowing at a high SPM, the bungee is not retracting the chain fast enough before you perform your next stroke. This could be causing the jerking and lack of resistance you described. Just a guess but I can’t think of anything else.

      There are ways to tighten the bungee or the gym can replace it very easily and for cheap. There are some instructional videos online on how to perform this.

      Hope this helps and let me know how it goes!

  26. I don’t need anything, I just wanted to thank you all the great information! I currently have a Stepmill (the escalator type stairs) and am looking to get something smaller. I moved into a place with shorter ceilings and my melon is touching the ceiling, so I have to hunch a little. It’s never good when your form is compromised.

    A friend referred me to your site because I had questions regarding if I can get as good of a cardio workout as well as getting the muscle toning factor on a rower as I can on the Stepmill (for legs that is). Turns out, YES! I am super excited and am looking at the Concept2 model D – if it fits in the condo :)

    Thank you for creating a site that literally answered all the questions and concerns I had about a rower.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Andrea! I’m glad you found the site helpful.

      If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!

      Good luck :)

      1. HEllo Edwin. Great site with great information!! I just wanted to ask, if I use a rowing machine everyday for around 40 min to an hour, is it really necessary to do any other excersises to get me fit and ripped since rowing using 84% of all muscles?? I am a male, slightly above average fitness but I am tall and quite lanky with a beer belly, haha.

        1. Hi Nic,

          I think you should incorporate sit-ups and push-ups into your routine. While rowing works out 84% of the muscles, some of these are secondary muscles in the exercise. Meaning, they don’t get worked out as effectively.

          Since rowing is more of a pulling exercise, doing push-ups will directly work the chest and triceps. Doing sit-ups will help that beer belly :)

  27. Hi, that’s a great write up. The gym I frequented has a concept 2 rowing machine that not many members used. I tried using it after getting some pointers online. My first session was 2 days ago and I felt a dull pain in my pelvic region. I got treated and the doctor said its because my pelvic ligaments overstreched. At what point of the rowing forms can a ligament overstretch occurs? By the way, I do a lot of kettlebell swing weekly.

    I am 55 years old.

    Many thanks for your reply.

    1. Hi Basha,

      Thank you for the kind words and reaching out! Sorry to hear you are experiencing some pain :(

      I haven’t heard of anyone overstretching their pelvic/hip ligaments from rowing but I guess it is possible. I’m not sure exactly where you are feeling pain but my guess could be it was caused when doing your “backwards lean” at the finish of the rowing stroke. To me, that would be the only time your pelvic ligament would be stretched.

      The only other cause I can think of is if you don’t use the muscles/ligaments in your hips often and rowing caused them to become inflamed/sore from using them suddenly. There are some people who experience soreness from rowing due to having weak hip flexors. However, I would think doing kettlebell swings weekly would cause you to have strong hips and no issues with the pelvic region.

      I would allow some time to rest and try again when the pain subsides. Make sure to get a good stretch before rowing. Here is a good article I found on hip pain & treatment.

      I wouldn’t get discouraged and I think you will be able to row again. The injury seems odd for a rowing machine but then again I’m not a doctor :)

      I hope everything works out and let me know how it goes! I wish you a speedy recovery!!

  28. Frank Underwood on House of Cards reckons he can do 500m in 1:39 but no matter how hard I try I find it really hard to go under 2:00, I don’t know what resistance setting he used but do you reckon for a Vice President in his 60s (I guess) he was fibbing? I guess he did kill people… my serious question though is when pulling the handle towards you is better to pull it in towards your abdomen or towards your chest? Every now and then I pull it to my chest for a minute or two because I think it may work my arms or chest muscles better or is that bad form and not worth it?

    1. Hi Gav,

      While a 1:39 500m is definitely possible, I don’t think Frank Underwood was pulling that kind of time with his form.

      What type of rowing machine are you currently using?

      To pull 2:00/500m you will need to focus on your leg drive. Your stroke should be about 60% legs, 20% core, and 20% arms. Watch a couple of form videos and try to replicate this while rowing at higher spm.

      You should be pulling the handle back to the base of your chest at about nipple level. Your backwards “lean” at the end of the stroke should be at 1 o’clock.

      Hope this helps!

  29. Hi, Thanks for your site.

    I have an old but reliable Model B that I am starting to use again. I know that rowing uses a lot of muscles, which is great. I also realize that some muscles really get worked good when rowing and some get used a little bit of a workout and others don’t really get a workout at all.

    I am trying to figure out what the “least” amount of other exercises are that I can do at home to get all the muscles a reasonably good workout. I have a home weight bench and some dumbbells and it has a lat bar on it. Having trouble finding good source of what else to do for minimal time commitment to get a good all around workout.. just for basic fitness for middle aged woman.

    Thanks a million and rowing is best ever!

    1. Hi Clara,

      This is a really difficult question to answer because it really depends on your personal fitness goals. Are you trying to lose weight or just get in better shape?

      It also depends at the intensity level of your workout. You can easily row as hard as you can for 5 minutes and be completely exhausted and feel all your muscles worked. However, I recommend rowing for at least 15 minutes a day for weight loss.

      The formula for calculating calories burned deals with gender, weight, age, heart rate, and time. So the two factors we can control, heart rate and time, must be maximized. There are no shortcuts to adding more time on the rower.

      If you are looking to lose a little weight and get in better shape I would start with 10-15 minutes of rowing followed by 10-15 minutes of a light free-weight workout with higher reps (15-20 reps a set).

      You also must keep an extremely clean diet. This is way more important than exercise for losing weight and will lead to the fastest results.

      I hope this helped and good luck!

      1. Thanks, what I am really looking for is what to do for what the rowing machine doesn’t do so well.

        I have read that pectorals do not really get a proper workout and maybe a few other muscles… not finding anything that really says which muscles do not really get a good workout –

        – just for general fitness… basic toning and strength overall – not weight loss or being a body builder… just getting back into being fit and maintaining it… but being balanced in all the muscles getting worked out.

        read the pecs and hamstrings do not really get a proper workout while rowing – said they are used in the activity but not really a good work out for them but that person was on a chat board and no idea if they know what they are talking about… so if I need to do bench presses or something to equal out the pecs then I want to do them… but I don’t want to do a bunch of stuff that is not needed if the rowing machine does it well… hope that makes sense and really appreciate your time… know you must be quite busy!

        1. Hi Clara,

          Gotcha, I understand now! You are correct that some muscles don’t get worked out as well as others while rowing.

          Just from my own personal experience, I always like to supplement my rowing with some Kettlebell exercise. I wrote an article about using kettlebells and rowing machines here.

          Your chest will definitely not be worked out as much as other muscles so doing pushups or dumbbell chest press will help. I also like to target the shoulders with front & side lateral raises and upright rows.

          I do feel my quads and hamstrings get a very good workout from rowing, so if you are pressed for time, I don’t think you need to spend a lot of time doing a supplementary workout for these. However, I don’t think it will hurt ;) I like to hit both of these muscles to try to improve my rowing time and usually do some dumbbell squats and lunges. I also do a lot of kettlebell exercises that target these muscles.

          After rowing for a few weeks you should be able to tell what muscles you feel getting worked out more than others. This can help you decide what muscles you want to target using your free weights.

          If you are looking for an exact workout I would row, do pushups/dumbbell chest press, and a squat to upright row using dumbbells.

          Hope this helps!

  30. Hi there,

    I see people who has rowed since they were teen to have a good upper body.
    I am quite fit but I am looking to look better: wider shoulders, bigger chest, flat stomach and good muscle tone while doing cardio.
    Can I get all these from the rowing machine?

    If yes how long should I do it for

    1. Hi Nathan,

      Yes, a rowing machine will definitely help you build lean muscle and improve on all of the areas you mentioned. The key is to work out consistently.

      There is no magic number for how long it will take to see results because everyone is different. If you work out 6 days a week with 1 rest day, I would expect you to see noticeable differences in 3 weeks. This also means working out hard each day and eating a healthy diet. Once you see results doesn’t mean you can stop either, you must stay consistent with your routine.

      If you are looking to gain some lean muscles I would also incorporate some push-ups, sit-ups,and body weight squats into to your routine. This will give you a more well rounded workout and help target some muscle groups that are more “secondary” muscles for rowing.

      Good luck!

  31. Hi Edwin,

    I know you must be tired of all the questions about how much you should row, but my Dad recently got a rowing machine, and I worked out on it a couple of days ago. I did 30:00 Minutes, burned 529 calories, and rowed 7069 metres. I would tell you what level it was on, but I think different rowers vary, so I don’t think it would be much use. I was wondering, if I work out at that level, 4 times a week, would many improvements be made to my body and cardiovascular fitness? Or do I need to up it further or for longer? To give a bit of context, I’m not fat, or muscular, I’m just the average 16 year old

    1. Hi Josh,

      When first starting out I think 30:00 minutes 4 times a week is perfect. This allows your body a day of rest in-between workouts.

      You will definitely see improvements working out at this amount. I would let your body be the judge and continue to push yourself.

      Every workout you should try to do more, get a faster time, or row more meters in the 30 minutes. Then when you feel up to it you can increase your workouts to 5 or 6 times a week.

      At least 3 times a week I like to do push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups after a rowing session. I sometimes do squats as well. I have seen great improvements in myself using this method. I’m a lot more toned and can see definition in all my muscles.

      It’s also great because you really don’t need any other equipment. If you don’t have a pull-up bar you can buy a kettlebell for fairly cheap at Walmart and begin experimenting with some kettlebell workouts.

      Another great idea is to start following some rowing machine influencers on Instagram. They will give you good ideas for different workouts and push you to workout harder. There are also a lot of Crossfit athletes who row and they have other fitness routines on their accounts.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks alot for your reply and advise, I will continue to work harder and push myself more. Integrating push ups and sit ups sounds like a great idea to get more out of a workout, I’ll be sure to remember that tip. Again, thank you for the quick reply

  32. Thanks for a very inspirational site! Im a 56 year old woman who used to be fit in my youth, but then life happend and the kilos piled on ???? and in december 2016 l was diagnosed with diabetes. Well to make a long story short, l love my toes too much to give in to that, so l changed my diet, have lost 13 kg so far, and got my bloodsugar back to normal levels again. But while doing this, it has been on my mind that loosing weight is fine, but l also want to put the pieces back in place. So l have taken out the ol’ rower and dumb bells, but was sort of wondering if it would be enough and that is when l found this site, and what an inspiration you gave me! So thank you so much, you make a positive difference!

    1. Hi Eva,

      Glad to hear you are getting back in shape! Super happy you are doing it with a rowing machine!!

      Thank you for the kind words and I’m glad you found my site helpful.

      If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!

      Good luck and keep on rowing :)

  33. I’ve been on a quest over the last few years to lose weight. I started at 334 pounds, and now I’m 245. I purchased a concept 2 rower in August and in just a few months I’ve lost more weight, my clothes fit better, and I’m sleeping better. I only regret I didn’t give the rower a chance earlier on. Thank you for your wonderful website and information!

    1. Awesome to hear Lenore! So glad you found a rowing machine useful for losing weight and enjoyed my site!

      Any tips for other readers on how you found success losing weight with a rowing machine?

      1. I row 5x a week, 20 minutes with a goal of 200m/minute and 4000m total. It’s very challenging.
        I wear a heart rate monitor, and I notice that my heart rate gets higher with the rower than any other piece of exercise equipment. I burned 230 calories in 20 minutes!

        When I first started I had to take pauses, but now I’m consistently rowing the whole 20 minutes. I struggled with consistently breathing (I breath hold when I’m stressed/working hard), so I focus on breathing in and out at each point. Another helpful thing for me was to to focus on each minute at hand and not worry about how much total time I had left.
        Since incorporating the rower in this fashion, I’ve lost 15 pounds in 2 months and many inches…this is of course coupled with a consistent eating plan. I eat every 3 hours, 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. The focus is on protein and greatly reducing refined carbs.
        When I don’t row, I miss it.

  34. Hi Edwin. I just wanted to say thanks for such a great and informative website. Indoor rowing is quickly becoming a favourite sport. I have started a one million metres challenge to inspire me to keep rowing.

    1. Thank you for the kind words John! I’m glad to hear you are enjoying rowing so much.

      Keep up the hard work and good luck on your challenge!

  35. I tried a rowing machine at the gym last night and I’m a bit perplexed. I rowed for 20 minutes and did some sprint intervals but at no time did it increase my heart rate. I am very fit and there was no way to increase the resistance and actually get a workout. Why is that?

    1. Hi Marilyn,

      That is very strange. What model rowing machine were you using?

      Rowing is one of the most difficult and tiring exercises I have ever done! I can row hard for less than 5 minutes and be on the verge of vomiting!

      Once you let me know the model, I can give you some metrics to track. If you are on a very basic rower, try rowing for 2,000m in under 8 minutes at about 28 strokes per minute.

  36. This machine is my secret weapon. I swear it is magic.
    I row briskly for 15 minutes 3x a week (as the first part of my cardio) in between my 3 days of full body workouts. I have done this for 5 years now.
    It hits the chest lovely for women as we have to be careful we don’t lift away all our boobs and I find this to be so effective at building the upper pecks and I don’t have to focus on my chest as much when I do lift.
    I compete and stay in almost stage shape all year around so I can say for 100% this machine gives me a total advantage over my competitors as it builds muscles and endurance.
    I honestly stay at the gym I am at because they have rowing machines, not all gyms do and I know if I stopped rowing my body would change and not for the better.

  37. Hi,
    I love the photos of the different muscle groups involved at each stage of the stroke. I would love to get them blown up and laminated. The resolution is too low. Is there some way I can get the diagrams in the original format or in a higher resolution?

  38. Hi Edwin,

    I used a rowing machine years ago with great success. In 2013 I had lower back fusion and have recovered well. Back playing golf and tennis. However, I’m have been unable to lose about 15 pounds which has been my goal since surgery. My running long distance days are over due to the surgery and my walking 2.5 miles for 4 or 5 days a week doesn’t seem to enable me to lose weight. I would like you opinion as to whether I should consider purchasing a rowing machine for a total workout at my own rate in consideration of my lower back surgery. Do you think the rowing machine would be good for my lower back muscles and spine as long as I’m conservative in my approach?

    1. Hi Bob,

      Seeing that you play tennis and golf now, I don’t think you would have any issues with rowing. I definitely feel the twisting motion of both golf and tennis are more intense than the back and forth motion of rowing.

      If you were to sit on the floor with your feet in front of you and lean forward to “1:00 O’clock” and back to “11:00 O’clock”, that is the back movement involved in rowing. Obviously with some resistance.

      I do think rowing can give you that extra push to lose some weight over walking. I would recommend an air or magnetic rower for the smooth resistance.

  39. Edwin, I’ve heard of the “runner’s high.” Is there such an experience as a “rower’s high?” In advance, thank you for your reply.

    1. Hi Russ,

      Yes, you can experience “rower’s high”! This experience is actually caused by long, moderately intense workouts, so you can feel experience “swimmer’s high” and “biker’s high” as well!

      I often experience “rower’s high” when doing steady-state workouts and I’m not watching a YouTube video or listening to a podcast. When I’m just rowing, I start to feel this “flow state” or “high”.

      I found a good article about it that you can read here!

  40. All I wanted to do was to find somewhere on this website to thank you for the time you spent on presenting all the information you have. Thank you. It is amazing! Both rowing and your website.

  41. Hi! I’m on my school’s rowing team, and since it’s the middle of the winter, we’re all training in rowing machines together. After my first time rowing I didn’t really feel any back pain till I layer down at home. Using my back muscles is very new to me.
    I was wondering if there were any stretches or exercises I could do after my workout to prevent injury or too much pain?
    Also, since we’re only rowing 2 days a week (1 day of training, 1 rest day, 1 day if training) there’s 4 days between my second and first workout. Are there any useful cross training workouts/exercises I could do?
    I used to be a very active soccer player, but I dropped it for personal reasons. I still try to go out for runs, and I sometimes participate in cross country or organized races. So I have good cardio and leg muscles, but my upper body and back are lacking.

    1. Hi Nicole,

      Glad to hear you have joined the rowing team! I would first ask your coach for some specific stretches and cross training exercises. They also may not want you doing workouts in-between so you can give your body some rest. If you are experiencing some back pain it may just be muscle soreness from not being used to rowing.

      Here are a few good back stretches you can perform.

      Again, I would talk to your coach first. They will be able to help diagnose whether it is back pain or muscle soreness better than I can. I would also take it slow, you will have plenty of opportunity to continue rowing! You will lose more time by injuring yourself further and having to recover :)

  42. This was a good informative article. I am interested in buying a rower machine but am doing some research first. So, I don’t have much fat to lose so that’s not a concern of mine. What I’m looking for is a gentle way to put strengthen and add muscle mass. Would you say the rower is for me?

    1. Hi Linz,

      Please fill out my form on the “Help Me Choose” section and I will point you towards the best option.

  43. Edwin,

    This site is terrific and I appreciate the personalized info you provide. I am a relatively fit 57 year old (though not as a fit as a3-4 years ago before starting an 80 hour/wk CEO job that is now ending). Have 15 lbs to lose. I use a personal trainer 2x/week for 40 minutes and have a Cybex Arc that I do 4x for 35 -40 minutes at an average METS of 12-12.5. Burns about 675-700 calories.

    Bought a water rower a while back that I am just now using. I just have no frame of reference for what I “should” be able to do or what is smart to do. Right now I am doing 27 minutes at a stroke rate of 32-38 and an average resistance of 8.7-8.8. My 2000m increments are 2000 at 8:20, 4000 at 17.15, and 6000 25:50. I am not yet trying for a time just measuring what I do when I get on and go at a challenging pace

    I read that we should be able to do 2000m in 7 minutes, should I be doing a faster stroke rate and less resistance? Should I just try to increase time at same pace? If you cannot help, please advise where best to go for advice to learn how to safely adopt this new sport. I do not want to get more muscular and in fact prefer to take some off. I am also adding swimming for off days.

    Thank you in advance


    1. Hi Bill,

      Glad to hear you are enjoying rowing and looking to improve on some of your times. If you are using a WaterRower you should have the S4 monitor, correct?

      A good stroke rate is around 28-30 and can creep up towards the end of a session when you are starting to sprint. when you say “resistance” what measurement are you referring to on your rower? Air and water rowing machines are “variable” resistance meaning resistance changes based off speed only. Not by adjusting anything on the rower.

      Check out this C2 article and this WaterRower Rule of Cubes excerpt.

      Rowing a 7:00 min 2K is very difficult and the average person will not come close to this number. Rowing a 7min 2K will require a fair amount of training.

      Check out my 2K Erg Test article for some good info and a great video on how to row a 2k. The same guy in the video has another one for 5Ks.

      One of your best resources will be the Concept2 website because they are the rowing machine that records all world records and rowing times.

      Hope this helps!

  44. Hi Edwin,

    I’m 18 years old and really want to tone up my body without getting to muscular. Can I obtain that with this kind of machine?


    1. Hi Anna,

      Yes, I get this question a lot. Rowing will build lean muscle so you will not get bulky. Rowing is the ideal machine for getting into great shape :)

  45. I’ve been weightlifting and running for years. I gave the row machine a shot a few months ago due to icy weather and some vertigo has me shaky on the treadmill. I was bored to death of the spin bike and elliptical. I gotta say I really enjoy the row machine! You don’t have to balance or think really, just blast your music and give it heck. I will say that if you are already conditioned it won’t be much of a workout. I have a hard time getting my heart rate up so I’ll try to run a few laps before getting on, even then when I’m going full blast my heart rate will start slowing down. So just be aware, it won’t do much if you are already well conditioned. I still enjoy it!

    1. Hi Annie,

      I’m glad you are enjoying the rowing machine but I have to disagree about it being easy! I would look up some workouts on YouTube to see how you must row to get a good workout. Some of the best athletes in the world, who are in excellent cardiovascular shape, can be seen using a rowing machine and being completely exhausted!

      The rowing machine is one of the hardest pieces of fitness equipment and one that will test you endurance the most! There is so much you can get out of a rowing machine that I feel you may be missing out on :)

  46. I have just started going to the fitness center and would like to use the rowing machine. I’m just not sure how much time I should start out with. I do not want to do too much and get so sore that I will not want to use it again. Please advise. Thanks so much.

  47. Thank you for this article. Very informative. We have a rowing machine at my workplace and I just tried it out for the first time yesterday. Fun to use although I only lasted 1KM with 2x 30 second breaks. Looking forward to continual use and better/longer times.

  48. Dear Edwin,

    Amazing site, thank you for your great insights !

    I have a question and I can’t really find a clear answer elsewhere: I have lower back problems but I like to keep in shape, can rowing ( in good execution ) cause back pain? I’m getting a bit tired of the elliptical and indoor biking and want to add rowing to my “repertoire”

    Thanks in advance for your answer !

    1. Hi Laurens,

      It really depends on the back pain and the person. I’d hate to say it won’t cause any issues and then it does. Rowing does use the back and lower back, so I would suggest trying one at a local gym.

      Start off slow and at a low resistance. If you don’t feel pain while rowing or the next day, I would imagine you will be ok.

      Sorry, it’s just a very difficult question to answer.

      1. Hi Edwin,

        I started out slow and in my case it works fine, just keep composure , back straight, and get up after the work-out carefully, and it should be perfect.

        Thanks for the advice

  49. Hi Edwin,
    I’m 66 and female and had 13 surgeries for osteoarthritis including 5 spinal ops, knee and hip replacements. Mid foot fusions have failed so full weight bearing exercise is impossible but I am able to row for 30 – 40 minutes on the concept 2 and feel fantastic afterwards. I currently have the resistance set at 5. In your opinion is it better for me to row for longer at this level or increase resistance?
    Great site and practical adivice given freely- much appreciated

    1. Hi Jane,

      It really depends on your goals. Rowing longer at a lower damper setting is great for cardio and burning a lot of calories.

      If you increase the damper and row shorter, it will help build a little more muscle. I would recommend looking up “HIIT” training or tabata training. These are also great for cardio and can help burn a lot of calories as well!

      I think switching up the workouts really helps keep your body in top shape and not reach a plateau.

  50. Hi, I’m going to buy a Concept 2 D model and wondered if a fitness watch or chest strap is better to link to the PM5 ?
    Great site, very helpful. Thank you.

    1. Hi Susan,

      It really depends on what you prefer. Some people enjoy the fitness watch because it syncs to an app on their phone and they can use it throughout the day.

      If you are purely looking to record heart rate on the rower only and view it on the monitor, then I would recommend the chest strap.

    1. Hi Ann,

      I would really consult a doctor on this one or a physical therapist. I have absolutely no idea what the dangers could be if you continue to row.

      Sorry just being honest.

  51. “Mature” female trying to eliminate BACK FAT & wiggly upper arms. I’m only about 15 lbs overweight, but want as a horse rider in competition, I hate seeing those back bulges when looking at pics (& sure the spectators/judges aren’t too impressed either). Been working out daily for about 1 1/2 years with free weights, but the back fat & arm wiggle aren’t going away. Will rowing do it?

    1. Hi Jordan,

      Thank you for reaching out! I think rowing will be a tremendous help to tone your back and arms. Due to rowing being a high-repetition pulling exercise, you should see great results for your back. If you look at pictures of rowers, you will see their backs are very toned.

      While rowing doesn’t specifically target triceps, it does give a great full-body workout and helps burn a ton of calories. I think rowing will definitely help tone your arms and it may be a good idea to get some light free-weights (5-10lbs) and do high-repetition tricep exercises.

      I hope this helps!

  52. Hi Edwin,

    Found this site by accident. it is so informative. I recently started to row. I have been doing weights 5 days a week with no cardio for several years. I know thats not a good thing so thats why i started the rowing machine. I do a 20 minute weight programme, (legs and Shoulders or arms or chest and back) then I row about 7K. Should i spilt the weights/rowing. Should i do just one or the other and alternate the days or is it ok to do both. I am not looking to lose weight. thanks again. This site is a fountain of knowledge, its great that you shared it.

    1. Hi Dana,

      I’m glad you like the site and thank you for the kind words! I don’t think you have to split your weight training and cardio to be on different days.

      I know a lot of people who do the same routine as you, who are are extremely fit, and feel they see great results by doing cardio after their lift.

      You can consider switching it up if you ever hit a plateau or if you are looking to become more lean you can add in more rowing.

      Hope that helps!

  53. Hi Edwin,

    Just started rowing, tried a little many years ago and have decided to give it a go again. I am hitting 6k in 25mins after two weeks so hopefully going well, aiming for five sessions per week. I like to lift weights but have put on some weight, dad bod, aged 45 and feel I should just keep rowing until I burn the excess weight before I hit the dumbbells again. I would love to hear your thoughts, trying hard with good food but like a glass of wine at the weekends. I am hoping the rowing will keep me toned until I am ready to hit the gym again, hopefully my lift won’t have dropped too much. Great site by the way, thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Connor,

      Glad to hear you picked up rowing again! To be honest, I think either way you choose to work out can lead to the results you want. I think you should do whichever option leads you to work out more (rowing-only, or rowing & lifting). If you choose to only row, then I would mix up some long stead-state exercises with some shorter HIIT training. If you do decide to keep lifting, then change from doing heavy weights to more super-sets, which should help with toning instead of bulking.

      I think just being more conscious of wanting to lose weight will allow you to focus more on your diet and calorie burning exercises. Just keep being consistent and you should see the results you want!

  54. Hi Edwin,

    My husband and I are trying to lose weight and just bought a rowing machine today! I stumbled upon your article, which has been so helpful. So, thank you for that!
    We do not have access to a gym, and the closest one is about 20 minutes away :/ The previous owner of our home left some weights when he moved out. We also have a really awesome running trail right by our house.
    My question is, are there certain exercises I can/need to do in addition to the rowing machine? I’m trying to lose weight and get toned, but I don’t want to look like I’m training to be a body builder or be toned in some places and not in others. Again, thank you for the article and all the links… love your site!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      The two most important things are to remain consistent with a daily exercise routine and healthy eating habits. The main issue with people is they try to live a healthy lifestyle for a few weeks and then give up!

      A lot of times the results can take a month to start showing and 3 months to have real noticeable change! I like to switch up my routine so I don’t get bored and continue to work out consistently

      This means sometimes I’m more cardio focused and other times I lift more weights. I also like to get outside more during the summer.

      Whatever way you choose you have to remain consistent and not give up!

  55. I enjoyed reading much of your writing! I am 63, have seven stents , and row i doors on a Concept2 in the cold weather to train for ocean kayaking in Townsend’s I let NJ . I just hit a new record of 48:3 for 10,000 meters last week and can’t get near it this week,but that’s ok! I am trying to help a friend who is 71 learn to enjoy the concept 2 but he is not easily convinced as it has been at least a year with little success

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thank you for the kind words! Sounds like you have found some great success with rowing.

      I think your friend needs to stick with it and hopefully they will start to see some progress. It’s not for everyone but maybe they will find a routine that they enjoy :)

  56. Hi Edwin,

    i am a 35 year old female, I weigh 50kg (1.63height if it helps) and am exercising regularly trying to tone up and build muscle.
    My aim is to gain 4 to 5kg, make my glutes bigger, lose a bit of belly fat and get more firm all over. I have been doing resistance exercises and (a bit) of heavy lifting and recently i started using the rowing machine for 15 minutes prior to my resistance workout. In some days i just row for half an hour.
    Does the rowing by it self help grow the glute muscles or it is essential to combine resistance and heavy lifting to my workout routine? Plus i read that rowing machine helps you lose weight. Is that the right machine for me that i want to tone up but gain weight?
    Too many questions but thanks in advance for answering :)

    1. Thanks for reaching out! Rowing will help tone and grow the glutes on some people (depending on how fit they already are), but heavy-lifting and squats is really going to do the trick for making your glutes bigger

      If you want to tone up, lose weight, and build muscle at the same time, then you are going to have to do a combination of cardio and lifting. This is completely normal and I’m sure you will see people doing this in the gym. There really isn’t a way around doing cardio if you want to become more tone and lose weight. In my opinion, the rowing machine is the best at doing this and it will help tone your legs and glutes.

      In your case, I think using a stair master or jogging on a treadmill at a steep incline will also help.

      I think you are on the right track and seeing results will just take a little time :)

  57. Hello,
    Darryll here im 51 been active most of my life Marine, Paramedic, and now Hight Threat Protection detail medic. I have to stay in shape have never been one to really like going to the gym I the guy who will cut and stack fire wood by hand, mow the lawn, and do other manual tasks to stay in shape. Not always able to on location that i work. I was always a big elliptical guy, but doing it right with out cheating but wasn’t getting the results. i now do rower concept2 one day 45 mins 2:30/m ave max resistance 10 and the next day the elliptical for 35 using the aerobic setting level 16 for now. Cardio seams great. just hoping that this puts the older man body back in to the level i want. Have to work with and take care of guy 1/2 my age most of the time. Also have a repaired PCL that not 100 wear heavy duty brace. Between what i have learn from your articles and teaching myself i think this is going to work. anything thing you can suggest would be great. 5’7″ 197lbs want to be 180lbs

    1. Hi Darryll,

      Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying the Concept2 and have found some success. I think the best option would be to search on YouTube for “Rowing Workouts” or “HIIT Rowing Workouts”.

      These videos are going to be from Crossfit gyms and personal trainers, which will show you step by step how to complete the workout. It will be far better than what I can do through the comment section.

  58. Hi Edwin,

    Great article.

    I am 28 years old with a fast metabolism and currently weigh 67kg.

    I am looking to build stamina, muscle and gain mass. Would a rowing machine benefit my goals?

    1. Yes, a rowing machine will give you better stamina and add some lean muscle. This is one of the reasons it is used in Crossfit.

      If you want to gain mass, you will have to look at lifting heavy weights. I recommend looking up “muscle hypertrophy”.

  59. I am discovering the benefits of rowing since joining an exercise class that uses the HITT workout concept using rower, treadmill and floor exercises using weights. Before joining this establishment, I had never used a rower machine. Your website explains the great benefits of a rower, which I never fully realized. However, I also have had 2 muscle issues attributed to it- lower back spasm ( felt it as i pulled handles back) that left my back sore and I needed to stop for a week and leg IT band soreness. Do you have suggestions for proper form and possible stretches for before and after? I am 55 yr old woman who exercises regularly and in generally good shape, but am finding muscle soreness occurring too frequently!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I think the first question you need to answer is do you think the rower is causing these issues or doing HIIT with all the other exercises?

      I joined a Crossfit gym a few years back and was a regular exerciser before joining. Even though I exercised everyday, once I started Crossfit I started working out much harder. This caused me to have some bad lower back pain and also had to take some time off.

      With that being said, I think the best thing to do is rest and stretch. Then work back into it slowly. I know it can be hard to take time off but I was forced to stop exercising due to me going on vacation and after 10 days of not working out I felt 100% better.

      The best thing I did when I had these issues (and I’ve had IT band issues before) is to get “rollers”. I used a foam roller for my legs and IT band and then took 2 lacrosse balls and taped them together. I would put them on the floor or wall and roll them into my back.

      I think you can buy something now that is like 2 lacrosse balls but rolling on these is amazing! They are hard enough to get deep into the tissue. You can look up more info by googling about foam rolling and rolling on lacrosse balls.

      Hope this helps and wishing you a speedy recovery!

  60. Edwin, a few questions. I have been using an indoor rowing machine at my local YMCA for a few months now, usually training 5 minutes straight high intensity 2x a week. I love rowing.. it’s easy on my bad knees, is a full body workout, and is a no-cheaters task. However, as a 6’6″ relatively skinny guy, my overarching goal has always been to put on muscle mass. Is rowing suitable for that? What regimen would you recommend to build up muscle? If I’m rowing nonstop, at say 800 r, how many minutes would be ideal to put on that mass but not go cardio overboard and burn mass/muscle? Also, would appreciate (if you are knowledgeable in area) if you could highlight differences in indoor rowing machine and rowing as a college sport. Thanks, love your post.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for reaching out! Rowing is great for building lean muscle but if you want to put on mass as a 6’6″ skinny guy you are going to have to lift weights and increase the calories. I would start a weight training program to build mass and would look up some article on the best way to do it. There are plenty of people in the same position as you.

      There are a lot of differences between indoor and outdoor rowing. It’s like riding a stationary bike vs. cycling. Rowing crew is going to require a lot of technique with feathering the oars, rowing straight, keeping your balance in the shell, etc. Plus, you are outside which can make it a bit more enjoyable. All people who row crew will use indoor rowers to train and the Concept2 is probably the most popular model.

  61. I disagree with one part of this article.

    You can TOTALLY cheat and still stay in “swing” with the instructor.

    You decide how hard you want to pull. You can pull as hard or as lightly as you want and still stay in swing.

  62. Edwin,

    I’ve been looking at getting a home gym that is relatively portable and space-saving for some time. I’m totally blind so would like something relatively easy to set up. I found a portable weight bench plus rowing machine on Amazon which seems to be a pretty rare concept. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It’s called Supine board Xinjin Adjustable Weight Bench with Rowing Machine, just google it and let me know what you think if you can, or if you know of something similar I’d appreciate the info. I’d like a machine that does everything if possible.

    1. Hi Jordan – thanks for reaching out!

      The Supine board Xinjin Adjustable Weight Bench with Rowing Machine is technically not a rowing machine. It’s a bench, like a normal weight bench, that has two bungee cords with handles attached to them that are connected to the floor supports. It looks like you can perform “rowing” back exercises but there is not a seat that slides like a traditional rower.

      If you want a machine that does everything, then a Bowflex is probably your best bet, but these are very expensive. There is also not a machine that performs like a traditional rowing machine that can do other workouts.

      I hope this helps!

  63. Good day Edwin,

    Your article is great! I have been looking into buying a rowing machine as I REALLY need to lose weight. I do have one problem though…the diet!! I fully understand that you need to maintain a good diet to lose weight. I do not eat any veggies and my work day is extremely busy so that I can’t afford to eat during “lunch time” either, hence the problem with a well balanced diet. With the rowing machine, will I still lose the weight without eating correctly? I have noticed that you have books for rowing and diets which I am guessing won’t help me much :( Any advise will be much appreciated!!!!

    1. Hi Denise – Thanks for reaching out!

      Yes, I do think you will lose weight even if your diet doesn’t drastically improve. There are many benefits to exercise other than just burning calories. You will:

      1) Add some lean muscle which burns more calories throughout the day than fat
      2) Increase your metabolism
      3) Exercising makes you want to eat healthy. After I workout, I just don’t want to put junk food in my body
      4) You’ll elevate your energy levels
      5) And of course, you will be burning calories which will help you lose weight

      Even with a busy schedule, I think you can still work towards eating a healthier diet. You just need to make better choices when you do have time to eat! I know it is difficult but once you change your habits it will be much easier! I hope this helps :)

  64. I’m an 81 yo overweight woman (Christmas, Burns Night etc.) and soon shall need to wear evening gowns during a cruise so I dug out the simple rowing machine yesterday. Haven’t used it since I had a pacemaker fitted but I took it steadily , panted and did 100 strokes in five parts. I immediately felt better and shall go and do another hundred when I finish this.Your site has encouraged me because it shows which muscles will be used, that’s what I wanted to know.Thank you!

    1. Way to go!! I’m so happy to hear you are starting to row again and that you enjoyed the post!

      Best of luck and happy rowing :)

  65. Male 52. Thanks for the info on this site. I have been sufflering from a knee injury for a year, got it while running (have been running my whole life) and could not do cross fit for a month afterwards and can still not run or do anything that put strain on my knee. Began to row on a Concept 2 rower and now I’m addicted to rowing. I am now rowing 7 K at approx 30 min 4 times a week. I’m having knee surgery on May 12, but even if my knee gets better, I think rowing will be my favourite – I might be in the best shape ever.

    1. Great to hear rowing has been a better replacement for running and you are enjoying it so much! Thanks for the comment and best of luck with the surgery! Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  66. Hello Edwin
    I also stumbled on this site. I was looking for more cardio equipment. I just bought a treadmill for cardio and endure (and to walk/ run while watching tv). I remember using the rower at this little gym and I did love it but I assumed that it would be really expensive to own one. I love how it really does work so many muscles so thank you. I will definitely be looking to get one soon.

    1. That’s awesome to hear you are looking to purchase a rower! It’s a great alternative to a treadmill and you can find great deals on them nowadays! You are right though, previously there were not many options and cost 3x more.

  67. Thank you for the comprehensive information. I love rowing and I finally got a rower for home (Sunny magnetic). The information panel only counts strokes and time, and their estimate of calories (worthless) and being a scientist at heart (and professionally) I ask if you have any formulation that would allow me to use the weight of the pull at each magnetic setting, the distance of travel of my stroke and stroke per minute to give me some work or energy value. I am thinking of just upending the rower, and seeing how much weight will be needed to pull the handle down at each setting, and using that as the force and factor in the distance of stroke. Have you any better formulation? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Donald – thank you for reaching out! I don’t know of a way to calculate work/energy value on these lower-end rowers. This usually requires a more higher-end monitor that calculates the drag and deceleration of the flywheel. Concpet2 has some good info on how they calculate it using an air rower but I’m not smart enough to know how this would be done on a magnetic rower :) sorry!

  68. Should i row on leg days or arm days when trying to build lean muscle mass and adding some weight, because im quite lean.
    How much can i row per week ? Will rowing help me with jumping?
    Thank you for this great site

    1. Hi Marko – thank you for reaching out! I would say it’s fine to row on leg day or arm day. It’s going to be very lightweight and high rep so it will help to add lean muscle. If your goal is to add lean muscle, I would focus on lifting weight doing around 3-5 sets at higher reps – 10 to 15 reps per set.

      I think rowing 2-3 times per week is great for cardio. Rowing will probably not help too much with jumping. If you want to increase your vertical jump I would focus more on Olympic-style lifts of squats, deadlifts, and power cleans. I’m not an expert in this area so I would do some research on how to increase your vertical jump.

    1. Hi Marko – In general, most people do cardio after weight training. You can use the rowing machine for 10-15 min beforehand to warm up for lifting.

  69. I am having rotator cuff problems, so got a rower with the idea it would strengthen scapular muscles to help maintain optimum shoulder joint alignment. Any suggestions on form to especially target scapular areas, promote healthy shoulder joint movement and not aggravate rotator cuff?

    1. Hi Steve – Glad to hear you are using a rower! I’m not sure how to avoid aggravating a rotator cuff and wouldn’t want to give you the wrong info. I would Youtube some rowing form videos and start there. Definitely start off slow and use a low resistance at the beginning!

  70. Hi, Hi I am a beginning rower, very overweight, and I am using a water rower. I seem unable to get my larger muscle groups to the point of fatigue before the smaller thigh muscles (groin area) are screaming to stop. I wondered if foot placement could be partly the culprit? Should your feet, knees and hips be in a straight line (‘shoulder width’)? Or , as they are currently in the attached footrests, should your feet be closer together than they might be when standing? I am also looking into rowing in neoprene dive socks as none of the “rowing” shoes I can find seem to come in a width that fits. Thanks for any insights!

    1. Hi Kari – thank you for reaching out! I am actually getting ready to publish an article on proper foot position!

      It may be best to lower your feet a bit in the footrests. When your legs are extended, your feet should be slightly lower than your hips and knees. When you are in the ‘catch’ or start position, you should feel stable and your shins should be as close to vertical as possible. Your knees should not be hitting your arms and can hopefully be slightly under your armpits. Hopefully, this helps as your groin area should not be the first muscle to give up! (at least I have not heard that as being a common issue!)

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