Is Rowing a Good Workout?

Bri Hand

If you’re looking to take your workout routine to the next level with new fitness equipment, a rowing machine can be a great way to work on any fitness goal, including improving cardiovascular health, burning fat, or gaining muscle.

Rowing machines are loved by many for their low-impact nature, making them a great option for recovery day or users with joint and mobility issues. Because of this, many gym connoisseurs may incorrectly assume these machines are meant for light workouts, unable to deliver the same level of exercise other machines can.

While a rowing machine is naturally low impact, that does not mean they lack intensity. Rowing machines are solid gear, providing intense cardiovascular workouts to help users build strength and stamina.

So, is rowing a good workout? Yes! Let’s break down why a rowing machine is a great piece of fitness equipment to incorporate into any workout routine. 

Low impact yet high intensity

Rowing machines offer many impressive benefits, one of which is their ability to deliver a high-intensity workout with a surprisingly low impact on joints.

The smooth and rhythmic motion of a rowing machine helps to minimize the risk of injury and joint strength during use, but you can still challenge yourself, build muscle, and get in some great cardio on a rowing machine — all without subjecting your body to the undue stress or injury that can accompany high-impact exercises. 

Full-body workout 

Another key benefit of a rowing machine workout is that it targets your entire body. According to the English Institute of Sport, one stroke on a rowing machine engages 86% of the muscles in your body — something that can’t be said for other types of fitness equipment. 

This makes rowers a prime piece of equipment if you’re looking to use a rowing machine to gain muscle

Efficient calorie burning

Rowing machines can be a very effective exercise tool if you’re aiming to work out to burn calories. 

Because rowing simultaneously hits multiple major muscle groups, it provides a great strength-building and cardio workout that very efficiently burns calories.

It’s important to note that the exact calorie burn rate of a rowing workout will vary from person to person, depending on various factors related to your weight, fitness level, and workout type. If you want to see the math behind your own calorie burn ate, check out the chart in our guide: How Many Calories Do You Burn on a Rowing Machine? 

Good cardio 

Rowing machines provide an amazing cardiovascular workout, even from their seated position. The continuous, rhythmic motion of rowing elevates your heart rate, working your cardiovascular system.

Research from Hopkins Medicine shows that with regular cardio exercise, you’ll see heart health benefits such as lower blood pressure and even heart disease prevention. If you’re working toward a healthier heart, daily cardio with gear like a rowing machine can help you make progress. 

Improve posture and balance

Completing rowing exercises regularly can also contribute to better posture and balance. These full-body rowing workouts engage your core muscles, building core strength that can improve your balance and posture. 

Proper posture and balance are integral to all types of exercise forms, making rowing even more beneficial if you’re engaging in other workout types. 

Mental benefits

Rowing, like all physical exercise, can also positively affect your mental health. 

According to research from the American Psychological Association, exercise can help improve mental health and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. With regular rowing exercise, you  may see these benefits work to help your mental well-being. 

Who should try rowing workouts?

Rowing machines are also a great workout because of their accessibility. Due to their low-impact nature, they are a great piece of equipment for people of any age or fitness level to use and enjoy.

Groups who will find great benefits from a rowing workout include: 

Workout beginners

Rowing machines are great exercise equipment for beginners just starting their fitness journey. Their seated nature and low-impact design make them easy to use and accessible to users of all fitness levels. 

Once you learn proper rowing form, you can benefit from a full-body workout that covers more ground than other equipment. This will help you quickly improve in areas like building strength, improving cardiovascular health, and increasing stamina. 


As we touched on above, the low impact nature of rowing machines is great for individuals dealing with joint issues, arthritis, or other mobility issues that can largely affect seniors. 

Senior users can still engage in a regular workout routine with a rowing machine without subjecting their bodies to undue stress. 

Cross-training athletes

Even more seasoned athletes can get a great workout from a rowing machine.

One of the biggest issues athletes face in planning their workout routine is avoiding overusing muscles and injuries that hinder progress. By cross-training and filling out a weekly routine with lower-impact exercises like rowing, athletes can still put in the work without risking strain and injury. 

Athlete rehabilitation 

If you are an athlete recovering from injury, rowing is a great way to progress in your fitness goals while being easy on your joints and not overworking an injured muscle. Even during recovery, you can train and remain active. 

Home exercisers 

Indoor rowing machines make a great piece of home workout equipment

As mentioned above, rowing machines are a great way to work many muscles with just one machine. This makes them ideal for home gyms with only room for one piece of gear. You’ll get a full-body workout with just one device. 

Many rowing machines today are smart rowers equipped with screens and membership content that bring gym classes into your home!  With these options, you can avoid the hassle of the gym while still getting a great workout right from the comfort of home. 

Try rowing with Hydrow! 

Are you looking to incorporate rowing into your regular workout routine? If so, look no further than Hydrow’s rowing machines. We offer the great rowing workout you’re looking for alongside a vast library of classes led by world-class Athletes and filmed in stunning locations around the world. Whether you’re just beginning your fitness journey or are a seasoned athlete looking for a way to cross-train, you’ll find the perfect rowing workout for you with Hydrow. 

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Hydrow's Content Marketing Manager and enjoys writing, singing, kayaking, and Zumba!