Fitness Articles

The Most Undervalued Piece of Equipment in the Gym

9 Reasons to Try the Indoor Rowing Machine


5. Good for the mind, too! All kinds of exercise have been shown to boost mood and decrease anxiety, but rowing is particularly relaxing due to its rhythmic nature. Something about that repeated pull-and-push motion is reminiscent of waves washing on the shore, which is good for calming the mind! Increase this feeling by listening to high-energy, feel-good songs while you work out or by turning on a travel show with beautiful scenery for you to watch while you row, row, row your . . . self.

6. New option for cross-training. For runners and endurance athletes, rowing is a fantastic option for cross-training, yet it's usually one that's forgotten. Many times people don't cross-train (even though they know it's important!) because they either get bored with activities or they simply don't enjoy them. But rowing—unlike cycling, swimming or the elliptical—is a totally new motion that you can throw into your cross-training mix! And unlike most cross-training activities that only work the lower body, indoor rowing also works the upper body and core—and strengthens the low back.

7. Its range of motion rocks. Rowing has a very unique push-and-pull motion of both the upper and lower body that you don't see in a lot of stationary cardio machines. Not only that, but this movement allows your muscles to work in a full range of motion. The sliding seat on the rower and its adjustable pedals allow people of all heights and sizes to move completely and fully. Working in a full range of motion is great for joint health and flexibility.

8. You can track your progress. Just like tracking your speed when running or logging how many miles you walked, you can track your distance, speed, calories burned and time on the rower, too. As you get fitter and accustomed to the rower, have fun with setting goals based on how fast you can row a 5K or how far you can row in a set amount of time. See how long it takes you to burn 200 calories or how long you can maintain a certain pace without wavering. Most indoor rowers even have a way for you to increase or decrease the resistance to make for an easier or harder workout. Play with your indoor machine's settings, set goals and be proud of yourself when you reach them!

9. It's fun! Did we mention that rowing is a good time? Sure, you may not be outside on a lake rowing the day away, but just rowing back and forth on the sliding seat is kind of enjoyable. And it's fun to focus on your form: using your legs to push off with power, pulling the handle toward your core to generate more speed as you lean back, and then controlling your body as you bring the handle back up and toward the rower. You can time your row speed to the beat of a song, your breathing or just go "out for a row."
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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

    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
  • Don't have a rowing machine in my gym. - 3/17/2014 9:41:15 PM
    I've used the rower a few times in sessions with my trainer. It's a tough work out for sure. Reading this article made me think I should incorporate it more into my cardio work outs on my own...might give it a go this week :) - 2/24/2014 2:06:04 AM

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