Can You Use a Rowing Machine Every Day?

Mike Dostal
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Whether you’re new to rowing or have used a rowing machine for years, you likely know how good it feels to set down your handle at the end of a session, when you have that delicious burn in your muscles and that layer of sweat on your brow. You may love your rowing workouts, but can you use a rowing machine every day? And better yet, should you? 

Here, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how to maximize the fat-burning, endurance-boosting benefits of incorporating rowing into your fitness routine—without burning out along the way. We'll dig into:

Should you use a rowing machine every day? 

The short answer: It depends. If you are varying the types of rowing workouts you’re doing and incorporating other types of exercise off your rower, you can absolutely use your rowing machine every day. 

However, if you’re doing the same type of workout every day and never change the amount of time spent rowing or the intensity of your workout, you may want to reconsider rowing every day. 

The benefits of using a rowing machine every day

If you love rowing, great news! There are are numerous benefits to using a rowing machine every day, including: 

  • It’s a full-body workout

  • It’s a combination of cardio and strength

  • It’s low-impact

It’s a full-body workout

Each rowing stroke engages a whopping 86% of the muscles in your body. It starts with a push of the legs, firing your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Then, there’s the body swing, which engages the hips, abdominals, and lower back. Finally, there’s the pull of the arms, which calls on the upper back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. 

You use all these muscles every single time you take a stroke. So, if you’re rowing at 26 strokes per minute for 20 minutes, that nets out to 520 strokes—not too shabby! 

All that to say, every time you sit down at your rowing machine, you’re going to experience a powerful full-body burn you can’t get from any other form of exercise. 

It’s a combination of cardio and strength

The sustained, repetitive movement involved in rowing—coupled with your ability to increase your stroke rate and lower your split time—make it an incredibly effective form of cardio. At the same time, each rowing stroke is like a horizontal squat with an upright row—you need to engage your muscles throughout the workout. 

In this way, rowing is like aerobic exercise and weight training rolled into one, meaning it can improve both the strength of your cardiovascular system and your muscles.

It’s low-impact

Unlike running, for example, which can put a lot of stress on the joints of the ankles, knees, and hips, rowing is completely low-impact. That means that rowing is safe for everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or injury history. 

The drawbacks of using a rowing machine every day

While there are tons of benefits to regular rowing, there are a few potential drawbacks to rowing every day: 

You risk overtraining

More is not always better when it comes to exercise, and rowing is no exception. If you’re not varying your workout intensity or are rowing for over 30 minutes every single day, you could risk overtraining, preventing your muscles from getting the rest and repair time they need and increasing your risk of injury. 

You could create body imbalances

Rowing may use the majority of the muscles in your body, but it is only engaging them in a single, forward and backward plane of movement. If you want to achieve the functional strength you need to avoid falls, limit injuries in your day-to-day life and stay strong as you get older, it’s crucial to incorporate weight-bearing activities, lateral movements, and twisting exercises into your routine. 

This way, you aren’t just working the same muscles through the same range of motion over and over again, which can create body imbalances that put you at risk for hurting yourself during daily activities that require different ranges of motion.

Your guide to using a rowing machine for cross-training

Can you use a rowing machine every day? Yes, but the better choice would be to use it for cross-training as one tool in your fitness arsenal. If you’re working out five days a week, consider rowing on your rowing machine on two or three of the days and using the other days for other forms of exercise

You can work on your flexibility with some yoga, trim and tone with some Pilates or bodyweight exercises, or build strength and muscle with some strength training with weights. On the days you do row, consider varying the intensity, trying some high-intensity intervals one day and some steady state endurance rowing the next.

Another option: Use the rowing machine every day, but only make it the bulk of your workout some days. Consider rowing for 10 or 15 minutes as a warm-up, followed by an upper-body strength workout on one day, then row for 30 minutes the following day as cardio.

Example workout schedules using a rowing machine

Ready to get rowing? Consider trying one of these two workout schedules: one featuring the rowing machine every day, and the other alternating with other types of workouts.

Sample Schedule #1

  • Monday: 30-minute steady state row

  • Tuesday: 10-minute row and 20-minute bodyweight strength

  • Wednesday: Rest

  • Thursday: 30-minute interval row

  • Friday: 10-minute row and 20-minute classical Pilates

  • Saturday: Walk or hike

  • Sunday: Rest

Sample Schedule #2

  • Monday: 30-minute interval row

  • Tuesday: 30-minute upper-body strength training

  • Wednesday: Rest

  • Thursday: 30-minute steady-state row

  • Friday: 30-minute lower-body strength training

  • Saturday: Yoga or stretching

  • Sunday: Rest 

Ready to get started with rowing?

The rowing machine offers an effective, efficient full-body workout that can form the backbone of any fitness regimen. Ultimately, when you’re wondering whether you can use a rowing machine every day, it’s up to you. If you listen to your body and supplement your rowing with other types of exercise, you’re certain to get stronger and fitter while minimizing your risk of injury. 

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting the variety you need is to choose a rowing machine like the Hydrow, which offers engaging and challenging rowing workouts of different lengths, plus off-the-rower workouts like Pilates, strength and yoga. Plus, our workouts are led by a team of world-class and Olympic Athletes and filmed in stunning locations around the world, keeping you motivated to come back day after day and transporting you to gorgeous waterways around the globe.

Mike Dostal

An England native, Mike grew up rowing as a kid. Mike has no shortage of rowing accomplishments, from winning the British National Championship, to racing for Great Britain, to placing in the U.S. National Championship. His enthusiasm lies in his desire to share his love of exercise, and that comes through in his tough but lighthearted rows.