The Truth About Rowing Machines: Do They Really Deliver on Their Promises?

You’ve seen the infomercials on late-night TV, claiming that you can get in shape without ever having to leave your house.

All you need is this one machine—which promises to burn fat and build muscle in minutes—and you’ll look like a supermodel by week’s end! But does the rowing machine deliver on its promises?

This article will walk you through the answer to that question, as well as some alternatives that may be better suited to your workout goals and schedule.

Can a rowing machine get you in the best shape of your life?

A rowing machine is a piece of workout equipment that provides low-impact cardiovascular exercise.

With good posture and proper form, it can be used to strengthen your entire body, including your arms, legs, back, and abs.

Because of its ability to strengthen so many muscle groups at once, a rowing machine is often used as part of a circuit training routine or rehabilitation program for people who have injuries or weak muscles. 

It's suitable for people with injuries because it is low impact and does not hurt your joints.

How does it work?

a rwoing machine

How does rowing work? Well, it works like any other cardio. Muscles are expanded and contracted using resistance to increase their efficiency, which over time increases strength, endurance, and speed. 

In recent years, as rowing has become more popular among recreational athletes and gym-goers alike for its low-impact nature on knees and ankles, people have begun to question whether or not you can get in shape by just doing rowing workouts.

Here are several reasons why a rowing machine may be a great fit for getting you in the best shape:

1. Rowing is a total body workout

A rowing machine exercises approximately 80% of your body making it a great machine to target different muscle groups all at once.

It is a great machine for strengthening both the upper body and lower as it targets so many different muscles including stabilizers.

2. Created resistance to tone all over

We all know that regular aerobic exercise is a crucial part of getting in shape. But it's not enough. To burn fat and build muscle, you need to work with resistance too.

The best way to do that on a rowing machine is to use arm-specific motions: Start with 30 seconds of straight-arm pulling followed by 30 seconds of bent-arm pulling and then complete one full minute with alternating arms, making sure to continue pulling through your elbows (instead of leaning back).

Aim for at least three sets. It’s also important to note that rowing works best when you maintain good posture and engage your core throughout each movement. Once you find a rhythm, don't stop moving until the timer goes off!

3. Rowing is meditative

Exercise can be hard, both mentally and physically. The meditative aspects of rowing help you get your mind off everything else and just focus on pulling the handlebars.

This allows you to clear your head, focus on what’s important and just get things done. Focus is key to getting into shape, as well as staying there, so rowing can be a great exercise for those who need it most.

Aside from focus, you may feel more relaxed with little to no stress after you've finished your workout. This is because exercising releases endorphins (feel-good hormones).

This is also beneficial for your fitness results and getting you into shape because you'll less stress or binge eat.

Eating too much is one of the major reasons why people are not getting into shape and it's moments of stress that normally sets them back a week or two.

4. It is also great for the heart and lungs

Rowing benefits your cardiovascular system, such as your heart, arteries, and blood which are vital for your health and fitness results.

This system is responsible for delivering essential nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. Since rowing is so strenuous, your heart needs to pump a lot of blood to your muscles to fuel your exercise.

This increases heart strength. It may be useful for those who may be at risk for heart problems.

This may support your fitness results in the long run because it builds on your heart's ability to pump blood and oxygen resulting in a delayed set of fatigue. This means that you'll be able to row harder for longer.

5. Rowing builds strength and power

One of rowing’s biggest benefits is how it can build strength and power, says Justin Price, a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Rowing makes you faster because it makes you more powerful—that translates to being able to do other things better and easier, he says.

People row for health reasons, but they often get hooked on just how good they feel while they row, Price adds. It doesn't hurt that all of those calories are coming from intervals that work your muscles hard to burn fat fast.

Simple Tips to get started

A  man Exercising on a Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is fairly easy to use. You simply sit down, strap your feet in and row like you would with a boat. However, one thing to keep in mind is your form.

I would strongly recommend speaking to a personal trainer at your local gym to show you and give you a little tour of every aspect of the machine. Since every machine is a little different, you should get properly accustomed to one of them and keep using that specific one.

This is important so you don't mix things up during your workout.

Furthermore, make sure that you use proper form. Keep your back tight and avoid slouching. Make sure that your shoulder blades are tucked in together and maintain a straight back throughout the strokes.

This is important, especially if you have any lower back problems. Make sure that you are rowing with your legs, back, and abs with an end-pull on the arms.


A rowing machine is a machine that can target multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

This helps you get a full-body workout in just a matter of minutes. As a result, this makes the rowing machines one of the best to use for getting yourself into shape. However, make sure to consider making changes to your diet to drive greater results.

On the other hand, if you want to start at home, be sure to purchase a high-quality rowing machine with all the functions that you need like calorie tracking and different style of workouts. Here is one of the best sellers on Amazon.

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