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!
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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

  • Rowing machines are my absolute favorite apparatus. I was first introduced to one in cardiac rehab, and ever since whenever I go to a new or old gym for that matter, it is the first thing I look for right after the bathroom. Hey, it;s about priorities. - 1/18/2016 3:31:06 PM
  • When I was a kid, we had a "rowing machine" at our house. We used to play on it. It was very utilitarian. I haven't seen one since! In all the gyms I've been to, not a one. I didn't know it was a real cardio machine! lol - 1/5/2016 9:52:30 AM
  • I just got a Sunny Health Fitness Rowing Fitness Machine, a rather lightweight model (I wouldn't recommend if you're much above 200 lbs). from Easy assembly and under $100. - 1/4/2016 8:33:23 PM
  • I love the rowing machine but Planet Fitness doesn't have any :( Not sure why. - 1/2/2016 8:00:29 PM
  • I love rowing! It's a good warm-up for my runs to prevent cramping. Unfortunately for me, the rowing machines at my gym are almost always taken. - 1/2/2016 4:06:16 PM
  • I used to think that when I was paddling our canoe, it was relaxing on the lake, but not that much exercise. After not paddling for a while, we went out and I noticed how many muscles I was using and then next day, I noticed again! It was really good and not boring since we were on a beautiful lake with lots to see.
    - 1/2/2016 2:28:44 PM
  • Rowing is fun, but you need to use good form on this machine, too, just as you do for all other machines, or you can hurt your back. - 1/2/2016 12:18:21 PM
  • I use the concept 2 machine, set it for 2000 meters, and then simulate a race - hard start, steady endurance in the middle, then a strong finish. At level 6 I've got it to 10 minutes. Working on the achieving the same time at a higher level. - 12/19/2015 10:14:52 AM
  • The rower is under used for a reason. It's boring as far as I'm concerned. Amazing how many people use it. Whatever works. Do it! - 12/19/2015 9:20:08 AM
  • I love working out on the Concept 2 Row Machine, and do it 3 times a week. I started out on it 6 months ago at a lower level 4, because I'm a senior, I find it easy to use and give me a good work out, I just plug in my cell with earphones and music, and row away. I'm up to Level 8 for 12 minutes., but hope to work up to 30 minutes without any trouble, as I love it . - 12/10/2015 10:49:54 AM
  • 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

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