Do Rowing Machines Build Muscle?

Of all the cardiovascular training machines available in a gym, possibly the most complete, is the rowing machine since, in addition to the cardiovascular work itself, it will also allow us to do strength work, both upper and lower body.

However, this machine has to its credit that it requires an adequate technique of use since a bad position or poor execution of the movement could easily cause an injury over time.

Do Rowing Machines Build Muscle
Credit – Shutterstock

Do Rowing Machines Build Muscle?

Yes, Rowing machines can contribute to increased muscle mass. Rowing is a great full-body exercise since it works for all the major muscular groups in the body, including the arms, legs, back and abdominals. Using a rowing machine, you may efficiently work these muscles and contribute to your strength and muscle mass development.

In Addition – The following article may be of interest to you: “Rower Under 300 DollarsOpens in a new tab.“.

How long should you use a rowing machine to build muscle?

If you are a beginner, you should go slowly. Even if your motivation is very high at the beginning, you should start at the beginning with moderate training and with lower intensities.

Before starting your training, a training time of between 20 and 30 minutes is recommended, two to three times a week, with medium intensity and about 120 beats per minute. With this light cardio workout, you can get used to the training pace. After two weeks, you can slightly increase the duration and intensity.

Can you get in shape by just rowing?

Yes, Rowing Machines are a great way to get in shape as this allows you to exercise your entire body in a relatively short period. It also implies a very high-calorie expenditure. For this reason, rowing is a great way to improve body composition through fat reduction and weight loss.

How long does it take to see results rowing?

Rowing training should be consistent, usually three to five times weekly, to get the best results. The training should be intense enough to increase heart rate to 60-85% of the maximum heart rate (MRC). 2 or 3 times a week, moderately intense strength exercises should be introduced.

Muscles involved in the rowing machine – What muscles get toned from rowing?

When we use the compact rowing machineOpens in a new tab. in the gym, we are working practically all the muscles of our body (from the muscles of our forearms to make a good grip to the muscles of our legs), which is why we have indicated in the introduction that It is possibly the most complete cardiovascular exercise that we can do in the gym.

Credit – Shutterstock

Upper Body

In relation to the upper body, we could point out the following parties involved in the execution of this exercise:

  • Forearms: the muscles of our forearms will be essential for a good grip and that the bar we pull from does not escape us.
  • Arms and back: the arms and the back will be the generators of the movement at the upper body level of this exercise since they will be the two parts involved in pulling the bar and taking the grip towards the chest or abdomen.
  • Shoulders: purely speaking, in terms of movement, the posterior head of the deltoid is going to be the part of our shoulders that does the most work, hence the importance of strengthening it correctly.

Musculatura Abdominal (Core)

The core, or abdominal musclesOpens in a new tab., will be extremely important in this exercise since it will be in charge of helping us maintain a correct posture and not “sink” into the machine’s seat or arch our back to avoid possible injuries.

To avoid this mistake, we must try to keep our back neutral, making forward and backward movements with the flexion and extension of our hips.

Lower Body

Despite being an exercise that at first glance might seem like an upper body exercise, when we use the rowing machine, we are also putting our leg muscles into play; since our legs also flex and stretch during the movement, so the muscles of our legs will intervene in a secondary way.

For this reason, the rowing machine can also help us gain resistance in our legs.

Is Rowing Machine Good for Your Back?

Credit – iStock

Yes, but one of the main mistakes that we can make when working with the rowing machine in the gym is poor back positioning. Two main points can cause this: the first one, very common in exercises that involve back work, would be excessive arching of the spine when we go forwards or hyperextension of the lumbar spine when moving backward.

The second of the failures, in terms of the positioning of our back, would be caused by a too-weak core and a “sink” in the seat, which would cause us not to position ourselves in a “compact” way, and this would generate a potential risk of injury.

To avoid these errors and acquire a correct technique, our back must remain neutral as much as possible, being able to lean back slightly when we shoot but without leaning forward so much as to adopt a “hunchback” position.

Can rowing machine cause elbow pain?

Can rowing machine cause elbow pain

Yes! The wrong placement of the elbow during exercising on an air rowing machineOpens in a new tab. can cause elbow pain. The common mistake in this machine would be to place our elbows when we pull back above the horizontal of the shoulder.

On the other hand, it causes a reduction in the subacromial space, with the consequent risk of injury, and on the other hand, it will induce us to a forced posture of our neck, increasing the tension in all the cervical musculature and, consequently, increasing the risk of pulls and contractures.

To avoid these failures, the ideal is always to try to keep the elbows as close to the ribs as possible since, in this way, it will be impossible for the elbows to exceed the horizontal of the shoulders. If for some reason, we are not able to hit the elbows so much, we can open them as long as they stay within the horizontal line marked by our shoulders.

Is Rowing Good for Distance Runners?

This type of training consists of setting a limited distance as an objective and covering it in more or less time. For beginners, this is, along with time training, the best way to become familiar with these cardiovascular machines.

Over time and as we improve our physical condition, we can cover the distance in less and less time or with greater resistance.

Timed training consists of setting a time limit during which we will be rowing regardless of the total distance covered or the resistance of the machine. As we progress in our physical form, we can play with the machine’s resistance to try to row for the same time with greater resistance or to cover a greater distance at the same time.

Within this form of training with the rowing machine, HIIT-type routinesOpens in a new tab. would be framed, through which we would work for fractions or periods of time in which we would be rowing and then rest for the indicated time. If we want to add intensity, we have to play with the regulation of the resistance of the machine or try to cover more distance during the time we are rowing.

Does rowing give you a big bum?

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The action of pushing with the legs and extension of the hips are the culprits that work the gluteus. Working on the rowing machine greatly improves the aesthetics of the ass. It achieves this thanks to the intense work of the gluteus, especially. But also thanks to the fact that it allows you to burn fatOpens in a new tab. and that it strengthens your legs, thus raising your muscles. These will be firm, strong, and hard. 

Is a rowing machine good for abs?

Credit – Quora

Exercise on the rowing machine works and improves the muscles of the biceps and triceps. The movement made by bending the elbows and the movement made to pull the rower towards the midsection puts them to work intensely in each cycle.

You must ensure that these muscles work with the same intensity as the legs and not more. In this way, you will allow arms and legs to be worked equally. And that you do not feel some extremities clearly more fatigued than others.

Is rowing good for wrists?

The oar grip is a job carried out by the flexor muscles of the fingers. It is important that your constant grip does not overload these muscles. The wrist muscles will be strengthened by such a continued grip throughout the exercise cycle.

It is not a muscle that one thinks of developing, but it is important for daily life. And fundamental for exercises in which grip is necessary, such as the deadlift.


These are the main muscles that are worked with the rowing machine. You must perform the technique correctly and maintain the appropriate postures at all times.

So, Do Rowing Machines Build Muscle? In this way, you will ensure that the work falls on these muscles and not on other less interesting ones. It will also be a way to avoid injuries and discomfort.

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Michael Collins

Michael Collins is a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has a diverse background that includes training professional and amateur athletes as well as working with people with little to no fitness experience. More about me.....

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