Fitness Articles

The Most Undervalued Piece of Equipment in the Gym

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rowing Machine

Are you sick of the same-old cardio machines at the gym? Bored by the treadmill? Tired of the elliptical? Can't stand to do another mile on the stationary bike or another flight on the stair climber? Well, then, it's time you head over to the indoor rower. Yes, that rower—the dusty piece of equipment over in the corner of your health club that doesn't get used very often. The one that has a big handle and straps for your feet—that's the one!

The indoor rowing machine is awesome. It used to be fairly popular back in the early health club days but fell out of vogue when the newer and fancier stair climbers, treadmills and ellipticals came on the market. Now though, with more people looking for a complete full-body workout, indoor rowing is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, no doubt thanks to the popular Crossfit style of exercise that often uses indoor rowers in their workouts. And it's with good reason that rowing is becoming trendy again: There are a ton of reasons to love it. In fact, here are nine!

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rower
1. Anyone can do it. Old, young, good knees or bad knees, indoor rowing is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints. So no matter what size you are or what limitations you face, you can probably do it. In fact, it's the exercise du jour for many people who are recovering from an injury because it's so easy on the body, yet provides a great workout!

2. Rowing burns big calories. Hop on the rower, start moving, and burn some major calories. A 160-pound person will burn about 250 calories in just 30 minutes of rowing, which is as much, if not more than, what you would burn on the stair climber or the elliptical.

3. Strength and cardio in one. The reason why the calorie burn is so high is because rowing requires you to use both strength and cardio endurance at once. The pulling motion of your upper body along with the pushing motion of your lower body requires strength of the legs and torso, while the full movement itself requires the increased cardio output of your lungs and heart. Meaning, your muscles are pushed and you get out of breath. Talk about multitasking!

4. Rowing uses your full body. When it comes to indoor rowing, the question isn't which muscles are used, but which muscles aren't used? From your shoulders to your chest to your back and biceps and triceps, your entire upper body is used. On the lower body, everything from your hamstrings to your quads to your glutes and your calves are engaged when rowing. And don't forget the core! Your full torso, including your abs and erecter spinae (back) are used to power through the rowing motion. It is functional fitness at its best!
Continued ›
Page 1 of 3   Next Page ›

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • The rower is awesome and is a great supplement to my running. Love it! - 11/7/2015 2:44:44 PM
    I love the rowing machine. I don't use it very often. But I like how effective it feels. I feel like I work twice as hard in half the time. - 10/16/2015 6:20:26 PM
    I bought a rowing machine over the summer and it's the best investment I've made in a long time: a full body workout that doesn't stress my joints and has no jarring impact. After using it for a couple of weeks, I was concerned to spot some strange lumps in my arms. Imagine my surprise when they turned out to be baby biceps!!! I only recently figured out the tip someone else provided on this forum about leaning back at the end of the pull. For me it's like doing 600 mini-sit-ups per session.

    I found a machine that folds up and rolls completely out of the way when not needed. It's totally worth it to pay extra for one of those models. There are some very uncomfortable ad flimsy (cheap) machines out there so try out before buying. - 10/2/2015 3:48:23 PM
  • A little tip my trainer gave me to add an extra umph: When you pull the handle to your chest, keep it at your chest and lean back like you're reclining...then lean back to upright before you move the handle back down. You really feel it in the core, abs, and's my favorite "burn" from rowing. :) - 6/4/2015 11:15:34 AM
    I love rowing! It works out lower muscles, is great for cardio and excellent for pre weight training. The techniques I use and can be used by anyone on the forum can be found at http://www.rowing I hope this helps. - 5/17/2015 10:35:20 AM
  • I did the rower many times at the gym but quit because my sister always made me feel like I had to get so far in a short time and it left me breathless. I might try it again and just enjoy it.
    - 4/9/2015 6:04:54 PM
  • I love the rowing machine. When time permits I begin there for 30 minutes, followed by free weights and machine, then I do the elliptical for 30 minutes and then walk/ jog on the indoor track. The whole workout takes me about two hours and I feel the fatigued muscles the rest of the day. - 10/8/2014 6:16:34 PM
  • I love using the rowing machine at the YMCA. There are only 2 and they are hardly used. I use the rowing machine 3x/week for 30 minutes. I hope to get one of my own one day for use at home, so that I don't have to use the gym/YMCA. - 9/12/2014 12:12:13 PM
  • I'm typically on the elliptical every day but thought I'd give the rowing machine a try after reading another SP article. Although the workout mechanics felt good, I found it not to my liking; it was difficult to get my feet comfortably secure in the pedal straps and worse yet, it was BORING. Our machine has a simple digital readout that's no fun to look at; I think I may try again if I can find a way to rig my iPad to it. I just can't sit for a long time doing repetitive motion without going stir crazy. Ugh. - 8/30/2014 12:41:08 PM
  • NAYAH50
    I ordered a C2 rowing machine in June after trying it at crossfit (not ready for that yet) and I have not stopped rowing since. The company was great to order from and since arriving it is my everyday exercise. I have just setup the erg data app last night to log my rows with others. Off to row right now... Love this machine!!! PS - to the rower with a backache...I have found I'll get one if not rowing with good form. Watch the videos... - 8/8/2014 12:13:28 PM
    I love our gym's rower!
    Started out in 20 second bursts (before having to rest, lol) but now I'm up to 3 minutes at a time. I love it, and use it more than the treadmill or elliptical for calorie burning. It's the main part of my workout routine. Love it! - 6/6/2014 12:37:10 PM
  • My Concept 2 Model D is in my living room in front of my TV. I just crossed the 3 million meter mark and plan to do another 3 million (or more) this season). The great thing about having your own machine is that you don't have to go anywhere to use it. Because of my work schedule, I often find myself rowing at all hours of the day and night. Very convenient. - 5/2/2014 2:25:33 PM
  • We just got a new one in my gym at work. I'm starting off slowly, but really enjoying it! - 4/23/2014 3:22:21 PM
  • I wish I had access to one. - 3/30/2014 6:26:41 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by January 6! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.