Rowing Workouts: How Rowing Changes Your Body

Pete Donohoe

How does rowing change your body? And when might you choose rowing for your exercise regimen over other types of exercise?

In this article we’ll break down what actually happens during a rowing workout, how your body acclimates to rowing over time, and how to know if rowing would be a great fit for you. Let’s dive in.

Rowing workouts: What actually happens during a workout?

According to research published by Harvard Medical School, 30 minutes of vigorous rowing burns significantly more calories than a steady jog or game of soccer for the same duration. What makes rowing so effective for health and longevity is that it utilizes the majority of muscles in your body in a low impact setting. Other interval-based workouts or full body workouts involve explosive movements that can create wear and tear on your body over time; with rowing, you don’t have this problem. 

Rowing is one of the most low-impact workouts you’ll find, and understanding the rowing stroke is key for getting the most out of each and every workout.

A four-part stroke

Rowing is a sport of leverage, and understanding the rowing stroke will help you become more efficient with your workouts and get more work done in less time.  The rowing stroke is divided into four different parts:

- The Finish - At the back of your Hydrow, engage your back and core muscles so that you’re sitting at a 1 o’clock position, with the handle towards your sternum.

- The Recovery - Think about smoothly moving forward toward the Hydrow screen. Straighten your arms, pivot your core and back forward to an 11 o’clock position, then glide forward to the catch.

- The Catch - Engage your core, keep your torso close to your thighs, engage your arms and shoulders as you reach your arms forward under the screen, and keep the balls of your feet connected to the footbeds.

- The Drive - Push your heels into the footbeds and use your legs to power through the resistance coming from handlebars. Straighten your legs first, then swing your core and back to a 1 o’clock position, then finish the stroke with your arms.

For more information on the specific parts of the rowing stroke, check out this article.

Rowing workouts: How your body changes

So now we have a better understanding of how to row. What happens to our bodies and our physical fitness as a result of rowing on a regular basis? Here are a few top takeaways.

You’ll become more efficient

Whole body exercise not only improves the health of the muscles in your arms, legs, core and back, but also in your heart and blood vessels. Unlike running or cycling, rowing recruits large muscle groups in both your upper and lower body from the very first stroke, and strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system. 

This full body experience makes rowing great for overall cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular exercise challenges the heart to pump harder and increase blood flow; in response, the cardiovascular system becomes healthier and better at reacting to exercise and other stress. Multiple experiments have proven that cardiovascular activity encourages heart health and reduces the risk of heart attack. 

Your metabolism will remain elevated post-workout

One of the reasons interval training has become so popular is that intervals are scientifically proven to keep your metabolism up for several hours after your workout. The calories and energy you burn will continue after you finish your rowing workout when you incorporate different intervals.

You’ll become more body-aware

Rather than have to learn dozens of different skills to play a sport effectively, the great thing about rowing is that the only thing there is to learn and master is the rowing stroke. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can tackle any rowing workout you want, and mastering the rowing stroke is a lifelong labor of love. 

Little details like sitting up tall and driving through your heels will help you row more efficiently. But you don’t have to have every tiny detail absolutely perfect to get started – even champion rowers take the time to work on and improve their form every single week.

How Hydrow changes your body

How will you know what to tweak in your form and when? At Hydrow, every workout is done side-by-side with professional Athletes who are here to help you develop muscle memory, set records, and have a great time along the way. 

Hydrow aims to make the workout experience fun and invigorating. With Hydrow, you’re able to enjoy one of the best perks of outdoor rowing – beautiful scenery and a connection with nature – right in your own home via our Live Outdoor Reality™ technology. Here are a few ways bringing your workout specifically onto Hydrow can change the game. 

The right work at the right time

How much warm-up is enough? How should I pace my intervals correctly to get the most out of each session? We’ve thought through all these programming details so you don’t have to.

When you hop on Hydrow and select a class, you’ll be guided by one of our world-class Athletes on everything you need to know and do from the very first minute. We’ll tell you what pace to aim for and help you stay motivated as you go after your goals.

Movements on the rower and on the mat

At Hydrow, we’ve thought through not only your rowing workouts, but also what exercises and movements can best supplement the sport of rowing. Our On The Mat classes are included with every Hydrow membership and feature a wide variety of options to supplement your rowing experience.

- Strength and mobility workouts led by our Strength and movement specialist Peter will give you the resistance training and mobility sessions you need to stay strong and limber.

- Pilates workouts with Hydrow’s Pilates instructor Christie will help you strengthen for length and tap into core strength.

- Yoga workouts with instructor Owen come in three different activity levels – flow, align, and restore – to keep you long, strong and relaxed.

You’ll actually want to work out regularly

Coaching and form are important, but none of that stuff matters unless you’re inspired to get back on it each week and challenge yourself to establish and maintain healthy habits. That’s why at Hydrow we aim to keep things fun and exciting! In addition to inspiring Athletes leading the way, here are a few other features we’ve put in place to get you moving. 

- An active community. Hydrow’s members-only Facebook group is a space for members to connect off the rower. From conversations about Hydrow tips to just about everything else, you’ll have a place to personally connect with your crew.

- Challenges and camps throughout the year. Need a push to get back into the swing of things? Or just want to kick your rowing game up a notch? Choose the track that’s right for you and let’s break some records this month! 

- Social features. On Hydrow, the leaderboard feature lets you row with other members in your age group or the entire pack during a workout. Hydrow’s social features also allow you to follow other users, like and comment on their recent completed sessions, and form teams to keep one another accountable.

Rowing is a healthy habit that has great benefits for your body and mind, and with the right setup rowing can be a fun and inspiring pastime. Hydrow gives you everything you need to succeed – learn more about us and what Hydrow can do for you by clicking here.