Rowing Machine Benefits – Is it Really Better than Running?

Choosing an exercise equipment is usually a daunting task for many people due to their lack of basic knowledge in choosing an appropriate exercise machine. You wouldn’t want to choose an equipment that you can’t get the most out of during your fitness routine. Additionally, you probably don’t have a personal trainer that can guide you on the same. Fortunately, there is an exercise equipment that you can never go wrong with, and that is a rowing machine. It has the potential to benefit your body in more ways than you can ever imagine. Unfortunately, many people have a different school of thought and believe one can never gain much from it. But this is as a result of using wrong techniques. If proper techniques are employed, you are bound to enjoy the benefits outlined below:

Burn more calories than other cardiovascular machines

Besides a rowing machine, top of the class cardiovascular exercise equipment are exercise bikes, elliptical machines and treadmills. Let’s have a look at each.

Exercise bikes

If you are 170 lbs and moderately make use of an exercise bike for an hour, you could burn up to 570 calories. They are good for cardio and are a smart add-on to any kind strength building or diet plan.

Elliptical machines

If you are 170 lbs and were to exercise using an elliptical machine for an hour at moderate resistance, you could burn up to 525 calories. These machines are suitable for lower impact workout and best suit those with “bad” joints and knees.


These are the most common forms of exercise equipment. If you are 170 lbs and you happen to use a treadmill for an hour at a 0% incline, at 5 mph speed, you could burn 670 calories. Note that treadmills don’t offer low impact exercises and are equally hard on joints and knees

Each of the three exercise machines has their merits and de-merits such as standing vs. sitting and lower workout impact.

If you were to use a rowing machine for the same one hour, and you were 170 lbs, you would easily burn 688 calories. This ultimately makes it the best compared to the other cardiovascular equipment.


Cardiovascular workouts

A rowing machine will elevate your heart rate and also increase your oxygen uptake. This has the advantage of building your stamina and improve your lung capacity. This will essentially leave you feeling much better compared to equipment like treadmills that will require you to spend more energy.

Low risk

A rowing machine is a low-impact equipment. This translates to minimal stress being exerted on the body joints. Some people have knee issues and might not even be able to use a treadmill. Consequently, chances of injury are significantly reduced. Another advantage of rowing is that there is no danger of falling because you are seated and your back will not be strained if you are using the proper rowing form.

Non-weight bearing

Since you are sitting, plus your feet are on the foot plates, there isn’t any kind of impact. The only time you might experience some discomfort, is if you use your back to pull rather than your legs. Thus, the proper technique need to be used. A common error beginners make is overusing the upper body. The correct technique entails using the large leg muscles for a major part of the drive and utilizing the body and arms to complete the stroke. Overuse of the upper body can easily injure the lower back.

Upper and lower body conditioning

Upper body conditioning is achieved by ensuring that 25% of the pulling force emanates from your arms. The final big pull towards the end of the stroke should come from your forearms, back, biceps and shoulders. This technique results in a nice toned upper body. This is a great tip for ladies who have some sagging sections on their arms.

To achieve lower body conditioning, ensure that 75% of the force in the actual rowing stroke comes from your legs and hips. If you learn the proper rowing techniques and practice regularly, you can rest assured that you will get toned legs as well as solid thighs.

Rowing generally tips the scale by enabling you to work out majority of your muscles such as: Rhomboids, pecs, hands, buttocks, trapeziums, calves, biceps, abs, wrists and quadriceps. This combination entails a full body work out. If you use an aerobic exercise equipment an hour a day, then you might as well use a rowing machine and reap all these benefits.

Weight loss

Rowing exercise equipment are excellent tools if you are interested in shedding some pounds. This is because they let you work consistently for long periods of time. To achieve this, it’s important to familiarize yourself with certain terms used during rowing sessions. These are:

  • Split: This term refers to how long you would take to row 500 meters. For example, if you have a split of 2:00, it would take you 2 minutes to row 500 meters or 8 minutes to row 2000 meters.
  • Rate: This term refers to the number of strokes you take per minute. For example, if you had a rate of 30 strokes per minute, you would then be taking 2 seconds per stroke.

If weight loss is your objective, then persistence on intensity for extended periods is the best option. A great approach would be rowing at 16 to 20 strokes per minute for 30 minutes. Chose a split target before you begin each row. If you are a beginner, you should aim for a split of 2:20 when rowing at 20 strokes per minute for a period of 30 minutes. Or 2:00 if you are already used to rowing.

Muscle endurance

Rowing is probably the best exercise to build muscle endurance. This is solely because rowing uses about 84% of your muscles in each stroke. To build on endurance, practice a similar program as mentioned on weight loss.

Rowing is not the best in muscle building, but it helps build strength. The secret here is to aim for a low split coupled with a low rate. This is because a high rate in rowing will work you aerobically. Focus on a split of around 2:00 to 2:15 at a rate of 16 – 18 strokes per minute. This will also depend on how strong you are.


Despite rowing exercise equipment gaining popularity, they are in many instances placed at the back shelf and you are likely to miss them at retailers. Once people realize their enormous benefits, they will join the bandwagon.

You won’t be hulk, but you will get to have your muscles toned up. A rowing machine carries with it lots of fun and therapeutic benefits. There is no reason not to want these benefits.

A rowing exercise equipment enables you stay thin and in shape, you can also do it all at the front of your television. You will feel better and the only pain you feel is that sore the next day that lets you know, “It’s working”.






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