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Indoor Rowing: What Muscles Does A Rowing Machine Work?

what muscles does rowing machine work

Indoor rowing provides a great full-body exercise that helps tone your figure and strengthen your muscles. If you’re not familiar with what muscles does a rowing machine work, you’ve come to the right place. A rowing machine is one of the best fitness equipment among others. Learn which muscle groups are targeted by different rowing strokes so you can sculpt your body and reach the overall transformation you desire.


Indoor Rowing Workout: An Overview

With the various workout options available, you may find it challenging to select which of these exercises will help break your sweat. Some workouts can speed up weight loss, while some can provide you with an increased heart rate. With rowing, it is possible to get all of these benefits in a single routine.

Rowing is one of the best aerobic exercises that offer the benefits of a complete cardio workout. However, rowing is often done outdoors during a favourable weather condition and requires you to have a rowing shell on a large body of water. But now, it is possible to perform rowing exercises indoors.

Advanced technology and several innovations paved the way for an indoor rowing machine. This opens the possibilities for anyone to simulate an actual rowing experience at the comfort of your home. It might look overwhelming at first, but it gets easier to execute once you’ve learned the proper rowing form and techniques. 


Rowing Machine Benefits

There are countless benefits being offered by rowing machines. It can improve your overall fitness and enhance your quality of life. Below are some of the most common advantages brought by indoor rowing:

Develops Endurance and Stamina

The rowing machine is a unique aerobic exercise that uses both upper body strength and leg muscles.

Each rowing stroke engages several muscle groups that help in improving your stamina. It also increases your endurance and intensifies your body strength.

benefits what muscles does rowing machine workCompletes Cardio Workout

To execute a rowing exercise, you will need to use the muscles on your arms, core, back, and legs. This provides a total cardio workout that is rarely possible on other fitness equipment and cardio machines. Aside from that, rowing machines replicate the actual outdoor rowing, which is one of the main reasons it quickly gained its popularity.

Improves Weight Loss

One of the benefits relating to cardiovascular fitness is weight loss. Rowing exercises can increase your heart rate, which significantly boosts the number of calories burned. Many people opt for indoor rowing and incorporate it during high-intensity intervals. This challenges your body to reach a full-body workout that results in weight loss.

Boosts Immune System Function

Rowing exercise engages several muscle groups on your body which significantly makes you stronger. This brings positive effects on your immune system function and allows it to work better against diseases and germs. It also improves your recovery time and accelerates your metabolism.

Elevates Mood

Other than physical and health benefits, rowing machines also provide a positive impact on your mental health. For each rowing stroke, your body generates a natural rhythm and flow, which helps elevate your mood.


Muscles Worked

Rowing machines are known to work with most of your body’s muscles, which has been proven by several researchers. This claim is the reason why rowers are considered as the most powerful cardio machines available today. Since rowing exercises are considered as a low impact workout, you might be wondering if it really does take your muscles at work. Here, we have listed the main muscles engaged during a rowing routine.

During the Catch

At the beginning of a rowing exercise, also known as “the catch”, your body stays at a close position to the machine. The seat is placed forward so that your knees are bent close to your chest. Your shins are in a resting phase placed vertically to the ground.

  • work what muscles does rowing machine workTriceps – As you pull the rowing machine’s oars or handles forward, your triceps muscles get activated. This muscle is located below your shoulder blades and along your upper arm. It is used to perform an extending forward motion along with your elbows and arms.
  • Leg Muscles – These muscle groups consisting of hamstrings, calf muscles, and glutes are compressed to maintain the shins’ vertical position.
  • Back Muscles – During the catch position, your back muscles are engaged to control the arm extension’s muscle coordination. Your shoulder muscles are also responsible for your shoulder blades as well as your rhomboids. Rhomboids are support muscles to the shoulders and are located between the shoulder blades and the spine.

During the Drive

After the catch, a driving position is done. This motion is made by pushing your feet and fully extending your legs. During this phase, it is an important factor to use your core and hip muscles to maintain an upright position. It also requires coordination between your shoulders, back, and arms so you can pull the oar towards your chest area. You can feel the fluidity of your motion when properly executed.

  • Leg Muscles – Your glutes and hamstrings are contracted during this motion and are responsible for extending your hips as your upper body leans backwards on an angle.
  • Deltoids – Also known as delts, are shoulder muscles responsible for connecting your humerus to your collarbones and shoulder blades. Each rowing stroke activates and contracts these muscles.
  • Biceps – Your biceps join the fun as you bend your arms when you bring it towards your chest.
  • Ab Muscles – As the handle gets pulled towards your chest, your abs contracts and stabilises your core to maintain an upright position.
  • Back Muscles – The upper back muscles and the lower back muscles also help stabilise your torso’s upright position. It is engaged simultaneously with the ab muscles as the oars are pulled towards your chest.

During the Finish

The “finish” is the final phase of a regular rowing routine. This phase engages your core to maintain a stable position while you rest your hips backwards. This uses a momentum where you can fully extend your leg muscles as you bring the handle forward. It activates a rotating motion on your upper arm and completes the rowing simulation.

  • Torso – This is a major muscle group primarily made up of five muscles. Each of these muscles gets activated during the finishing phase to help maintain an upright and stabilised position. The five torso muscles include the internal and external oblique muscles, abdominal muscles, pyramidal muscles, and transverse muscles.
  • Biceps – Finally, your biceps will contract during this phase and help in supporting your back muscles. This enables your upper arms to be rotated.

The Recovery Motion

recovery what muscles does rowing machine workIf you are somewhat an experienced rower, you know this phase, which is basically a reversed version of the three major phases. First, you will extend your arms towards the flywheel while maintaining a parallel position to the floor. Perform an inverse drive motion to move your hips forward and bend your knees, while utilising your hamstrings. Reach the catch phase by pulling forward until you are in the initial position.

  • Triceps – Your triceps will get engaged as you reach and extend your arms.
  • Upper and Lower Leg Muscles – This muscle group consisting of the calves, the hamstrings, and glutes will contact as you perform a sliding motion towards the rail, as you reach the catch position.


Final Thoughts

Rowing machine exercises are fun, efficient, and simple. If you are looking for a full-body workout that takes care of all your fitness needs, then rowing is perfect for you. Whether you’re in for an upper body exercise, strength training, muscle building, or weight loss, rowing exercises will surely bring out the best in you.

Here at Home Gym Australia, we offer top-of-the-line rowing machines that will surely accompany you as you take a step closer towards your fitness goals.

So, what are you waiting for? Please send us your messages now and enjoy indoor rowing at the comfort of your home. Don’t forget to check out our website for the best deals and prices available.




Home Gym Australia is strictly implementing stiff rules and regulations when it comes to its investigative procedures. It has performed well-organised surveys and interviews based on client preference and expert opinions. Home Gym Australia also makes sure that peer reviews and product studies from reputable gym establishments and manufacturers are sourced out without bias and with fair judgment.

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