How to row properly

How to row properly

The rowing machine used to be the one machine in the gym that would gather dust and had a bad reputation. But in recent years, there has been a surge in gym-goers using the rowing machine within their workouts to help with weight loss, muscle development and improving cardiovascular health. 

In this guide, we will discuss all of the benefits of using a rowing machine, how to use it correctly, and even include a workout that will help you utilise the machine effectively and turn it into your favourite machine in the gym. 

Man on a rowing machine


Benefits of the rowing machine 

Rowing machine benefits

The rowing machine is a great piece of equipment for gym-goers and is often overlooked for traditional machines, such as the treadmill. But what does the rowing machine have to offer in terms of benefits? 

It acts as a whole-body workout

Due to the movements required to operate the rowing machine, you will find that it is activating a lot of muscle groups. The quadriceps, glutes and calves are activated with the driving movement of the legs, but you will also feel the burn in the arms, abs, back and pectoral muscles due to the pulling motion. By activating all of these muscles on one machine, you will find that muscular strength improves and don’t be surprised if you feel sore the day after a rowing machine workout in places you didn’t expect. 

The rowing machine is scalable

Although it may look like a scary piece of gym equipment, the rowing machine is scalable and can be used by people of all fitness levels. Each rowing machine typically has a dial that can be adjusted to suit the difficulty and resistance required for your workout. You should position the resistance so that it feels comfortable but challenging for strength work, but for a cardio workout, it is fine to drop the resistance. 


Following on from the previous advantage, the rowing machine is a great piece of gym equipment for those that struggle with their vision. The fixed position of the rower allows the user security and will instil confidence to push through the workout. 

Low-impact workout

Unlike the treadmill, the rower is a low-impact workout and is great for users who struggle with joint pain or have an impact injury. Removing this stress on the joint can be helpful for recovery if you have an injury but still want to train. 

Builds cardiovascular strength

The rowing machine is great for improving cardiovascular strength due to the intensity of the workout. Typically rowing machine workouts allow blood to flow through the body and get your heart pumping. Improving your cardiovascular strength is great for the heart and lungs and is often recommended for those at risk of heart problems. 

Burns a lot of calories in a short space of time

As rowing workouts are typically intense, you will find that you can burn a lot of calories in a short space of time. This is great if you are trying to lose weight or are stuck for time and want an efficient HIIT workout. 

How to use a rowing machine

How to use a rowing machine

Now that you know the benefits of a rowing machine, it is time to find out how to actually use the piece of equipment. With the rowing machine, it is important to adhere to the right technique to avoid injury or tweaking a muscle. Keep reading to find out a step-by-step guide on how to use a rowing machine and some handy tips and tricks to ensure you have the best rowing machine form in the gym. 

  1. Make sure to sit on the machine with an upright posture. Don’t round your shoulders forward when holding onto the oar (the pull bar). 
  2. To master the movement of the legs, hold onto the oar with your arms extended. Make sure that your knees are bent and that you are at the bottom of the position. From here, whilst keeping your back straight and your core engaged, drive through your legs and then return to your original position. Keep your arms extended throughout the exercise. 
  3. Once you feel like the leg movements are under control, it is time to add the arm movement. Keeping your legs straight, pull the oar back towards your body and then let the resistance of the machine guide you back to the starting position. Repeat this and identify the muscles that will be activated during the full movement. 
  4. Combine the two movements together. Start with bent legs, drive them straight, and then pull the oar towards your chest. Release your arms back to the original position and bend your knees to the starting position. Repeat this movement. 
Using a rowing machine

Top rowing machine tips

  • Keep your core engaged; this will ensure you don’t injure your back during the movement.
  • Fix your posture before you start. If you start to round your shoulders during the exercise, you could injure your shoulders or the muscles at the top of your back.
  • When starting to row for the first time, make sure to ease yourself into the motions and don’t overexert yourself; otherwise, you might not want to ever return to the rowing machine again.  

Rowing machine workout

Rowing machine workout

If you’re looking for a workout that you can try on the rowing machine, you are in the right place. Try the following rowing machine workout, which includes high-intensity training to help you develop your cardiovascular endurance, get the blood pumping through your body and tone muscles. 

HIIT rowing machine workout 

The rowing machine is the perfect piece of equipment for a HIIT workout and, as previously mentioned, is fully scalable depending on your fitness level and ability. 

How to use a rowing machine to lose weight

HIIT workouts are great for burning calories due to the high intensity and frequency of the activity. But how do you translate this to the rowing machine? Follow this HIIT rowing machine workout to help you burn calories effectively. 

Warm Up 

  • Row for 2 minutes at a low intensity. 

Round 1 

  • 30 seconds high-intensity row 
  • 60 seconds rest 
  • Repeat 3 times 

Round 2 

  • 30 seconds high-intensity row 
  • 45 seconds rest 
  • Repeat 3 times 

Round 3 

  • 30 seconds high-intensity row 
  • 30 seconds rest 
  • Repeat 3 times 

Cool down 

  • Row for 2 minutes at a low intensity

Find a rowing machine at Fitkit today 

Now that you know about the benefits of the rowing machine and how to incorporate the piece of equipment into your fitness regime – why not explore the range of rowing machines available? The range of rowing machines includes both new and ¨ to cater to your price range, as well as a wide variety of brands. You will find rowing machines within the range that are highly functional and include touchscreens for a fully immersed workout. From ergonomic handles to smooth tracking functionality – we are sure you will find a rowing machine that suits your needs within the range available at Fitkit. 

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