Benefits of Rowing Machines 

Rowing machines, also called ergometers, help you lose weight, build muscle and improve flexibility. A rowing machine can be the cornerstone of a successful fat-burning, muscle-building or cardio stamina or muscular endurance routine. Knowing how a rowing machine works helps you get the maximum benefits from its use.

Offers a Full-Body Workout

Unlike exercise bikes, many ellipticals and stair steppers, a rowing machine creates  a full-body workout that lets you increase the use of your upper-body or lower-body by decreasing the use of the opposite set of muscles.

Builds Muscle 

Rowing machines offer different resistance settings, allowing you to keep your heart rate elevated by working harder, as opposed to working faster with less resistance. Performing exercise with increased resistance requires more muscular effort and helps build muscle.

Helps Burn Calories 

By allowing you to decrease resistance levels, rowing machines let you maintain a longer workout time because of the lower intensity level. This lets you achieve different target heart rates. Beginner can work out in the so-called “fat-burning” zone, while intermediates can create a more traditional aerobic workout. Rowing machines allow you to perform vigorously intense workouts, either by increasing the machine’s resistance setting (which will will cause you to work harder), or by using a lower resistance at a faster rate.

To determine your target heart rate, visit our article that shows why men and women should not use the same formula to calculate target heart rates.

Builds Cardiovascular Stamina and Muscular Endurance

Stamina refers to how long you can exercise vs. how hard. Endurance refers to your ability to keep using your muscles over time, as opposed to performing one, powerful lift or movement. By using a rowing machine, you can improve the ability of your heart, lungs and muscles to perform a workout (or play sports) for longer periods of time.

Sport and Sprint Training

Many sports, like tennis, are anaerobic, and do not use oxygen during the actual points. Training on a rowing machine in the anaerobic zone will help you train the body’s energy systems in the same way you’ll be using them during an anaerobic sport. These exercises are done at a higher intensity for shorter periods of time. The anaerobic zone workout is done at 80 to 90 percent of target heart rate. This burns more calories than an aerobic workout during the same amount of time, with most calories burned coming from glycogen.


A rowing machines requires much back and forth stretching of your leg, back, shoulder and arm muscles, past their comfortable range of motion. This results in a total body stretch, which increases your flexibility.


Because of the repetitive motion involved, rowing machines can cause lower back pain. Consult with an exercise professional or your physician before using a rowing machine. Even if you are given the go ahead, make sure you read all manuals and instructions to ensure you use the machine properly.

Shopping for a Rowing Machine

Before you buy a rowing machine, get on it and try it more than once. See how you feel after you’ve used it to determine if it’s something you can use on a regular basis. Check the warranty to see if it covers replacement, shipping and parts. Some warranties require you to pay the shipping if it breaks. Others will pay for parts, but you have to eat the cost of labor to fix it. Check out online shopping options like Amazon that provide reviews from people who have purchased and used a particular model you’re thinking of buying.