Here are the results you can expect from regularly using a rowing machine

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Man using rowing machine at gym
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb

For many people, there’s no better way to work up a sweat than by getting on the rowing machine.

In fact, this piece of equipment is more popular than ever before. You can often find them at gyms now, and many places offer rowing classes, so you can row together with a bunch of other people.

As long as you maintain the proper posture, you’ll be able to work out several muscle groups at once. There are even different variations you can utilize where you focus more on your legs or arms.

It’s a great way to exercise, and many people prefer it over getting on a treadmill or elliptical.

But what kind of results will you see from using a rowing machine — in a month? Six months? Long term? What kind of before and after can you expect?

Rowing machines are great for weight loss, provided you’re eating properly alongside your workouts. With the right daily calorie intake and a few workouts per week, you can safely lose 1-2 pounds per week from rowing!

Even if you don’t mind your diet while rowing, your conditioning and endurance will improve dramatically.

You’ll also get a lot stronger throughout your entire body, though don’t expect to develop bulging muscles from only rowing. With strength gains and fat loss, however, can come exceptional body toning.

Regularly using the rowing machine can also help improve your posture over the long term, and will likely give you an immediate improvement in mood and energy!

I spoke with some experts to get a better sense of what you can expect from regularly working out on a rowing machine.

Your results may vary from other people’s, but as long as you’re consistent, you should notice some improvements in your health relatively soon.


Weight Loss

A lot of people start going to the gym, so they can lose a few pounds.

But with so much equipment, how do you know which one will give you the best results?

A rowing machine is one of the best pieces of equipment you can get on if you want to lose weight. According to an article on Livestrong, a person who weighs 155 pounds can shed 260 calories after just 30 minutes on a rowing machine.

And it’s not just Livestrong that thinks so.

Hannah Daugherty, a CPT-NASM fitness expert for Fitter Living, says, “You might even notice the scale dropping weight pretty rapidly, at least for the first week or two of a consistent rowing program.”

However, there are other factors that impact how much weight you will lose right off the bat.

You also want to take a look at your diet and see if any improvements can be made there. To lose weight, you’ll need to eat fewer calories each day than you burn through normal activity and exercising.

It’s generally considered safe and realistic to lose about 1-2 pounds per week with proper exercise and diet. Pair regular use of the rowing machine with clean eating and that’s about what you can expect.

And while you may want to give it your all on the rowing machine right away, it’s best to take it easy.

You can seriously injury yourself if you operate a rowing machine the wrong way. Pulling something may mean you have to step away from the gym for a while as you recover, which will probably hinder your weight loss.

Take things slow, especially if it has been a while since you’ve been part of any kind of exercise regimen.

The pounds will come off slowly but surely. You just need to have patience.


Soreness

You can expect a little bit of soreness from any new exercise. It’s to be expected, and as long as you work through it, you’ll be fine.

However, when people get on a rowing machine for the first time, they may not know how to use it safely.

Using this equipment incorrectly could put you out of commission for weeks, and you’ll lose all the progress you’ve gained.

There are several mistakes first-time rowers often make. You can avoid these mistakes by abiding by these simple tips.

  • You need to row with both your arms and legs.
  • You need to take your time and not jerk around.
  • You need to check the damper setting, which is usually on the side of the flywheel.

When you start a new workout, there’s good pain and bad pain.

A little soreness the next day is to be expected from a rowing machine, or any form of exercise. If it straight-up hurts to move your arms and/or legs, then you have a much larger issue at play.

It’s important to look up proper form for any new exercise equipment.

But it’s particularly important with a rowing machine because there are numerous muscle groups you’re targeting that could be impacted if you row the wrong way.


Posture

Have you ever had someone tell you to sit up straight or walk upright more?

A lot of people have poor posture. You can probably see this when you go to the gym and see people walking on the treadmill slouched over.

There are numerous benefits to improving your posture, according to Healthline. A few of the benefits you’ll receive when you start sitting and walking better include:

  • Reduced lower back pain
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Fewer headaches
  • Increased lung capacity

And one way you can help improve your posture is by regularly rowing. It’s one of the best ways to work your back and improve muscle imbalances — something not enough people work on.

Daugherty added, “From the outside, you might notice better posture – thanks to the upper back muscles that are being put to work while rowing – and an increase in muscle tone all over the body: this includes legs, core, and arms!”

You have to make sure you’re rowing the right way, and when you’re more cognizant of how you’re rowing, you’re more aware of how you’re sitting. You take that ability with you everywhere in your life, and you’ll notice improvements over time.

While you may see weight loss relatively soon, you should expect improved posture to take a little longer, especially if you have a tendency to slouch now.

It takes a while to get out of bad habits, but stick with rowing and your body will thank you later.


Muscle & Strength

With many exercises, you focus on either your upper body or lower body.Thankfully, rowing machines allow you to work on both at the same time.

People who regularly row exercise the lats in the lower back, trapezii in the upper back, and rhomboids in the shoulders. They also work out quads, glutes, and calves all at the same time.

And you should be able to see some improvements relatively quickly.

Adam Kemp, a personal trainer at Adam Kemp Fitness, stated, “Rowing workouts can provide a huge boost to your metabolic rate and help you develop a lot of strength in a short amount of time.”

The great part is that you can give numerous muscles a serious workout without a ton of stress.

Compared to some other workouts (like running) rowing is fairly stress-free on your joints. That way you can work out your muscles without having a bunch of stiffness afterward.

Take it from Caley Crawford, an NASM CPT and Director of Education for Row House.

She writes, “Rowing conditions many different muscles and joints without straining them. By undergoing a wide range of movement, rowing allows to minimize stiffness and increase flexibility.”

So you build muscle while feeling great at the same time. It’s a win-win in our book.


Mind & Mood

I’ve written about this a lot, but it’s always worth repeating:

Any kind of regular exercise is great for your mood, especially cardiovascular exercises.

Workouts allow your body to release endorphins. Those endorphins can help fight off negative feelings and alleviate stress.

Let’s go back to Crawford, who told me, “The rhythm involved in rowing is very meditative and not only releases tension in muscles, but also relieves tension – increasing mental clarity and focus.”

After a long day, it’s good to focus on your mental health. Instead of staring at your phone for hours, you can get on the rowing machine for a little bit. You’ll improve your health, and you’ll feel like you even accomplished more that day.

The best part is that you’ll feel better immediately. You won’t have to wait 30, 60, or even 90 days. Exercise benefits your mind immediately.


Wrapping Up

If you’re looking to mix up your routine, or start one as a beginner, you would be wise to consider the rowing machine.

They’re not for everyone. If you’re looking for bulging pecs and triceps, you’ll do better with weight training or calisthenics. For greater mobility and flexibility, you’ll want yoga or pilates.

But if you’re interested in weight loss, muscle tone, improved conditioning, and overall health and fitness, the rowing machine is one of the best options around.

What did I miss? What do you love about rowing, and what kind of results have you seen over time from using a rowing machine?

Hope this helps!

(For more on using these machines, check out my list of pros and cons of rowing machines.)

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