Why Rowing is Such an Outstanding Full Body Workout

Here’s everything you need to know about rowing machines and how to use them to their full potential.

By Brent Hannify | September 20, 2022

If you’re looking to enhance your home fitness game, consider adding a rowing machine to your exercise arsenal. Rowing is an excellent low-impact alternative to jogging, and activates your entire body for a vigorous, rewarding workout that’ll get you the results you’re looking for.

So if you’ve got space for it in your home or garage, set it up and get ready to work. Here’s all the details you need to know about how rowing can improve your fitness routine.

What is a rowing machine?

A rower is a machine that simulates rowing a boat. Pretty simple, really, but I tend to be a kind of guy who defines things in terms of the movies I’ve recently seen so here’s a better definition. A rower is a machine that lets you pretend you’re Alexander Skarsgård in THE NORTHMAN. And if you use it enough, you might end up looking like him too. I mean come on, look at this guy.

How to properly use a rowing machine

Someone untrained might hop onto a rowing machine for the first time and think it’s pretty simple. Just keep pulling back on that handle and spinning that wheel, right? Wrong. To properly use a rowing machine, you must use your entire body, and activate muscles in a specific order.

The best way to use a rower is with this pattern:

  • Legs, core, then arms on the row out.
  • Arms, core, then legs on the row in.

On your row out, extend your legs and smash your heels into the foot pedals. Then, hinge back at the core, tighten your abdominals, then pull the handle to your chest with your arms. Reverse it on the way back. Extend your arms, hinge forward at your core, then bend your knees.

Ensuring you’re using the perfect form on your rowing machine is essential to getting the most out of it. If you catch yourself using too much arm power on your row, reset your form until you get back into your groove. Remember: Legs – core – arms ... arms – core – legs.

A good way to be reminded of proper rowing form is to buy one that includes built-in workouts on a media screen. The Hydrow Wave Rower offers instructor-led rows filmed on waterways across the globe. It’s like having a personal trainer in your garage with you, everyone knows the best trainers are the ones who constantly remind you to maintain proper form.

The Hydrow’s 22-inch touchscreen offers an immersive 1080p video workout.

The benefits of using a rowing machine

  • Full body workout: According to some studies, a single session on the rower uses 86 percent of the muscles in your body.
  • Improves aerobic fitness: Rowing improve stamina, endurance, and your overall cardiovascular health. (It might also make you more handsome, but studies are inconclusive on that note.)
  • Improves your posture: This is a big one. Rowing engages all of the muscles needed for improving posture, including your posterior chain. Many of us tend to spend a lot of time sitting on our asses which is the cause of an unsettling number of posture-related injuries.
  • It’s a relatively low-risk workout: Finally, rowing is a good idea because it’s a low-impact activity that doesn’t pose the same risks of injury that say, going on a jog or lifting weights both have. So if you have a disability or are currently recovering from an injury but still want get a workout in, hop on the rower.

What muscles does the rowing machine work?

Uhhhh, basically all of them? Since rowing is a full-body workout that engages 86 percent of your muscles, it would probably take too long to list them all here. But for a quick answer, rowing activates the quadriceps and the glutes in your lower body, the deltoids and lats in your upper body, and every abdominal muscle in your core.

Convinced Yet?

Using a rowing machine gives you a powerful combination of cardio and full-body strength training that’ll improve your cardiovascular and respiratory health. You’ll strengthen the essential muscles needed for maintaining healthy posture, improve your aerobic fitness, and basically become a more dominating human.

So long as you remember rower’s mantra: Legs – core – arms – arms – core – legs.

Ready to get started? Put your GovX ID to work and save on Hydrow machines right here.

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