9 Benefits Of Rowing Machine Exercises

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, BPT
Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Rowing machine workout is great for fitness and full-body toning. It activates the abs, back, shoulders, chest, triceps, wrists, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles (1). Keep reading to find out how rowing machine exercises can benefit your health in 9 ways. Scroll down!

9 Benefits of Rowing Machine Workout/Exercises

1. Effective Calorie Burner

Rowing machine exercises are gasoline for stored fat. Ten minutes of a rowing machine workout burns 100-200 calories, depending on your body weight, intensity, and resistance used.

2. Great Full-Body Workout

Apart from working on your upper back muscles, rowing machine exercises also target your core, chest, biceps, forearms, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Therefore, you get a full-body workout without having to hop from one machine to the other.

3. Improves Muscle Strength

Rowing machine exercises help improve upper body strength and increase endurance (or stamina). Researchers have found that rowing machine workout helps people with spinal cord injury regain muscle strength (2).

4. Great For The Heart And Lungs

Rowing exercises help improve heart and lung function. Depending on the reps, sets, and resistance used for the exercises, you sweat and breathe in more oxygen, making your heart work harder to meet the oxygen demands.

5. Helps Build Muscle

Rowing exercise activates your muscles and causes wear and tear. When you rest and sleep, these muscles rebuild themselves stronger and thicker to give you that lean look.

6. Low-Impact And Low-Risk Activity

Rowing exercises are great for people with knee joint pain or arthritis. They are low-impact and easy on the joints. Rowing machine workouts also have a low risk of injuries. Make sure not to add too much resistance; add as much resistance that allows you to do 3 sets of 15 reps with ease. Add more resistance gradually as your strength increases.

7. Tones The Arms

Rowing machine exercises work on your arms, especially the triceps and wrists. Triceps are the muscles present at the back of your upper arm. Extending and pulling the rowing handle helps tone the triceps and forearms. Over a period, your arms start to look slimmer and more toned.

8. Reduces The Risk Of Diseases

Upper body fat is closely linked to metabolic complications of obesity (3). Getting rid of upper body fat helps reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases.

9. May Reduce Belly Fat

Rowing exercises work on your ab muscles. They are also good cardio and burn a good number of calories. Therefore, they can help you lose overall fat and tone up your belly region.

5 Rowing Machine Workouts

1. Row Warm-Up


Before you start a full rowing machine workout, you must warm-up. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do
  1. Add low resistance. Sit on the rowing machine, hold the pulley’s handle with your hands extended, core engaged, and back straight.
  2. Place your legs on the leg rest. Keep them extended.
  3. Pull the handle to your chest. Do not move back or hunch your back.
  4. Slowly get your hands back to the starting position.
  5. Do this 5 times.
  6. Pull the handle and move forward as you extend your hands again.
  7. Do this 5 times.
  8. Pull the handle of the pulley and as you extend your hands again, bend your knees and slide forward.
  9. Slide back as you pull the handle of the pulley.

2. Simple Rowing

How To Do
  1. Sit on the rowing machine and place your feet on the leg rest.
  2. Extend your arms and grab the handle firmly in your hands. Make sure your back is not hunched and your abs are tight.
  3. Push with your legs, straightening them until they are completely extended. Pull the handle with your extended arms at the same time.
  4. Lean back a little while keeping your arms extended.
  5. Pull the handle close to your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades and do not lean back any further while doing so. Use your back muscles to pull the handle.
  6. Bend your knees and slide forward as you extend your hands.

3. Water Rower Workout

This is similar to the simple rowing exercise. There is just a slight difference in the machine design.

Here’s an inspiring video featuring Josh Crosby, World Champion Rower, doing this exercise!

4. Power Curls

How To Do
  1. Do the simple rowing exercise 3 times.
  2. When you go back and bring the handle close to your chest, curl your hands by flexing your elbows, just like you would while doing bicep curls.
  3. Release the curl and slide forward, bending your knees.
  4. Repeat the whole exercise 5-8 times.

5. Sprints Or Extreme Rowing

How To Do
  1. In this exercise, you do the regular rowing exercise, but without taking the handle all the way back. Increase the speed of rowing while stopping in the Drive position.
  2. Do as many as you can in 1 minute.
  3. To intensify the exercise, you can increase the duration and speed of rowing.

Practice these five exercises to see a visible difference in your energy, appearance, and well-being.


Rowing machine workouts are excellent calorie burners. Do them two times a week to strengthen and condition your upper body. Get fit while having fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

Rowing machine workouts work on your core. So, yes, you might lose some belly fat. But remember, belly fat is stubborn. You might need to follow these tips to get rid of belly fat.

How long should you workout on a rowing machine?

Start with 10 minutes and increase the time and resistance as you build strength and stamina.

How many days a week should you use a rowing machine?

Two times a week is ideal for rowing machine exercises.

How does a rowing machine differ from a treadmill?

On the treadmill, you walk or run. It does not target your upper back muscles.

Can you lose weight on a rowing machine?

Yes, rowing machine workout is a calorie burner, so you will lose upper back fat.

Is rowing machine bad for the back and knees?

Rowing machine exercise may hurt your knees or back if you do not sit upright or if there is a disbalance between your two feet. If you experience pain after doing rowing exercises, seek your doctor’s advice. Also, you must take your fitness trainer’s help to first get used to the machine and learn about correct postures.

Is rowing machine bad for the hips?

No, it is not bad for your hips. But if you have tight hip muscles, you must talk to your trainer and doctor before doing rowing machine exercises.

How long should a beginner row?

Start with 3 sets of 12 reps. Gradually increase the sets and reps as you build more strength and stamina.

Is Rowing Everyday Good For You?

Some people prefer rowing every day. Others like to row on their back workout days. The best way to know is to talk to your trainer and design a workout plan that suits you and your body’s needs. Rowing also helps people think, just like running or meditating. If rowing does not cause any discomfort or pain, you may go ahead and row every day to reap these health benefits.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
  • Comparative analysis of basal physical fitness and muscle function in relation to muscle balance pattern using rowing machines, Bio-medical Materials and Engineering, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • A six-week motor-driven functional electronic stimulation rowing program improves muscle strength and body composition in people with spinal cord injury: a pilot study, Spinal Cord, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Role of Body Fat Distribution and the Metabolic Complications of Obesity, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.