What Does a Good Rowing Machine Workout Look Like?

good rowing machine

What Does a Good Rowing Machine Workout Look Like?


Your workout is going great, and now it’s time for some cardio…but the treadmills are full…and so are the ellipticals. I mean, there’s the rowing machine in the corner, but how do you even USE that thing?

The rowing machine is the great-grandaddy of the more popular treadmill and elliptical. It’s come to be known as outdated or niche, but in reality, it can provide and amazing, full-body, low-impact workout.

Keep reading for the three keys to a good rowing machine workout.


Ease Into It

Especially if you’ve never used a rowing machine before, you want to get your body used to the movement.

Just like with any exercise, make sure you warm up adequately before really getting into a demanding workout. Remember that a rowing machine works every major muscle group in the body, so warm everything up with about ten minutes of easy rowing, paying attention to keeping your shoulders relaxed.

Form is vital on the rowing machine, so use your warmup time to take an inventory of what is going on with your body and making sure you aren’t doing anything that could result in injury.

Feel It Everywhere

You can’t beat a rowing machine for comprehensive cardio. You’ll be feeling the workout in every part of your body when you’re finished.

But to really maximize it, take a look at how you are holding your body.


Straighten Up

Sit tall and look straight ahead during your row. If you hunch your back, you put an unnecessary strain on your back and shoulders, risking injury.

Instead, square your shoulders, stack your spine, and engage your core to keep you upright during your stroke.


Legs First

It’s tempting to want to pull back with your arms, making them take all the weight. After all, that’s what rowing is, right?

In reality, your legs should be doing about 60% of the work, and they should be the first to move in the course of the row.

Think of the movement climbing your body. Drive heels down first, extend the legs, rotate the hips, then pull back with the arms.


Slow it down

There is a certain allure to seeing how fast you can go on any machine, but rushing any exercise risks making it ineffective.

The key to a good rowing machine workout is rhythm. Pay attention to your stroke rate, and make sure you are not sacrificing form for speed. You can build up your speed, but bad form is a one-way ticket to injury.

Mix It Up With a Variety of Good Rowing Machine Exercises

Like with any exercise, make sure you are not getting stuck in the rut of doing the same thing every day.

A good rowing machine workout is not one-size-fits-all or even one-size-fits-every-time. Alternate longer endurance workouts with high-intensity intervals to help build your stamina as well as your strength.

Rowing is arguably the very best in terms of full-body cardio workouts. Just be sure to pace yourself.

Keep your back straight, your head up, and your pace steady, and mix up your workout styles to get the full benefit from this underappreciated but amazing machine.