A rowing machine is a piece of gym equipment that simulates the action of rowing a boat. Also known as an indoor rower or ergometer, this cardio machine works the upper and lower body at the same time, giving you a full-body workout.
Rowers are easy to use once you know the correct technique, which makes them incredibly popular with home gym owners. However, it’s not as simple as getting on and working out. Here’s what you should know before using an indoor rower:
How to use a rowing machine
So let’s say you’ve bought yourself a rowing machine. How do you use it properly?
Let’s break it down, step by step:
- Start by sitting on the rowing machine. Lean your upper body forward and hold the handle with your arms extended. Bend your knees and slide your feet into the footrests.
- To row: pull the handle and extend your legs at the same time. Lean back as you draw your elbows close to your body, and pull the handle close to your chest, just under your ribs.
- To return: Straighten your arms then lean forward from the hips. Slowly bend your knees and return to your starting position.
- Repeat for your preferred workout duration.
Pretty easy, right? Using a rowing machine strengthens the legs, core, and arms — making it more efficient compared to other cardio workouts.
Benefits of indoor rowing
We know that rowing workouts are great for the whole body, but why else should you consider getting your own indoor rower?
Indoor rowing burns a lot of calories.
Rowing strengthens your legs, core and arms while helping strengthen your cardiovascular system. Research shows that for every hour you spend on the rowing machine, you burn around 400 to 500 calories (and use 86% of your body muscles).
It reduces your risk of injury.
Rowing doesn’t require you to put a lot of strain and weight on your body, which makes injuries a lot less likely to happen. It's a great alternative to high-impact workouts such as running and HIIT, making it perfect for those who have joint issues.
Rowing machines are intuitive and easy to use, so they’re perfect for beginners. Even better, you don’t need any other equipment aside from your gym clothes and shoes.
How long should I work out on a rowing machine?
It all depends on your fitness goals. Do you want to lose weight, gain muscle or simply maintain your health?
According to Livestrong, using a rowing machine for 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity (or 15 minutes per day at a vigorous intensity) is enough to keep yourself healthy.
If you’re trying to lose weight, on the other hand, you might want to row at double the intensity or duration of a ‘maintenance’ workout. Let’s say your maintenance workout is 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity. You can increase that to 60 minutes a day if your goal is to lose weight.
However, keep in mind that weight loss is influenced by many factors, including your diet and sleeping habits. According to the BetterHealth Channel, losing weight requires you to make gradual, achievable changes to your eating and exercise habits. That said, a regular rowing routine — partnered with proper nutrition — can help you lose weight.
And what about gaining muscle? According to research, rowing can also help you gain muscle. Particularly, it can help reduce your fat mass and increase your muscle mass. Of course, this assumes that you’re eating an optimal, high-protein diet — so if you really want to gain muscle, you have to pair your rowing workouts with a proper diet and weights program.
Beginner-friendly rowing machine workouts
Here are some beginner-friendly workouts you can do on a rowing machine:
- 15-Minute Rowing Workout Perfect for Beginners by Anytime Fitness
- 3 Rowing Workouts For Beginners by Iffley Road
- 10 Min Rowing Machine Drills for Beginners by Sunny Health & Fitness
Time to row!
Indoor rowing is a great alternative to high-impact cardio workouts like HIIT or running. It engages almost all the muscles in your body, making it a highly efficient way to achieve your fitness targets. Plus, it’s super easy for anyone to learn. So if you’re looking for a sign to get a rowing machine, this is it!