Does Rowing Build Muscle Or Just Cardio


Does Rowing Build Muscle Or Just Cardio

A rowing machine is excellent fitness equipment that offers a full-body workout. Irrespective of what your fitness level is, you can use a rowing machine to achieve them. So if you are thinking of investing in a rowing machine to build or for cardio, you will not be disappointed. This is because this versatile machine can do both and more with utmost efficiency. But how does a rowing machine help in building muscles and doing cardio?

Does Rowing Build Muscle Or Just Cardio?

People have this misconception that rowing machines only work your upper body muscles. However, it offers you a full-body workout as it targets multiple muscle groups. So with just a machine, you get to work your upper body, lower body, and core muscles. The benefits of rowing machines do not end here as it is an excellent aerobic workout to increase the heart rate and burn some calories. Whether you are aiming for a toned physique, weight loss, muscle build, or increase in stamina, a rowing machine helps you achieve a wide range of fitness goals. Let’s delve further into understanding how rowing machines help in building muscles and working as a cardio exercise.

How Does a Rowing Machine Help In Building Muscles?

The rowing machine, when performed at high intensity, works multiple muscle groups in the body. Contrary to other fitness machines, a single rowing stroke targets around nine muscle groups. And these muscle groups make up 86% of the muscles in the body. So a rowing machine is exceptional fitness equipment for building muscles. The rowing strokes activate the lower body, upper body, and core muscles simultaneously.

The Catch

This is where a rowing stroke starts in which the seat slides forward, and you are closer to the front part of the machine. It allows you to strengthen:

  • Legs – Glutes, calf muscles, and hamstrings
  • Triceps – In this motion, your triceps are used to extend the arms and elbows forward to hold the handlebar.
  • Back muscles – The position activates the back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi. It is an important muscle as it controls the arm extension. Additionally, trapezius and rhomboids are also used to get adequate support.

The Drive

It starts by pushing the feet from the foot stretchers until the legs are fully extended. This movement activates:

  • Legs – It especially activates your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Biceps – these are activated to pull the handlebar to the lower ribs
  • Shoulders – Muscles on the shoulders contract when your legs pull your body back on the rail.
  • Back – both upper and lower back muscles are activated to get an upright position.
  • Abs – When the handlebar is pulled closed, it contracts your abs.

The Finish

This stage engages your core to keep the body stabilized while slightly hinging backward from the hip. This movement targets:

  • Biceps – The muscles on the bicep contracts to support and stabilize the back muscles
  • Torso – All the five muscles of the torso get activated as you move to the finish motion.

The Recovery

This is the final step, where you perform the first three steps in reverse. This movement will strengthen:

  • Upper legs – The motion activates upper leg muscles such as calves, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Triceps – It activates the triceps muscles to extend the arm forward.

Cardiovascular Benefits Of Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is a combination exercise that works your cardiovascular endurance as well as muscles. So when you are rowing, you simultaneously work your lower and upper body. Depending on the intensity working on a rowing machine can burn between 600 and 800 calories per hour. Moreover, a rowing machine can be used as low-impact, which makes it perfect for cross-training workouts. Here are some Cardiovascular benefits you get from a rowing machine.

Full-Body Conditioning

Rowing offers upper body conditioning and offers the lower and upper back and the shoulder muscles a great workout. Additionally, the sliding seat in a rowing machine offers a lower body workout. With each stroke, you activate hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, upper back, deltoids, triceps, pecs, obliques, abs, biceps, glutes, etc. Moreover, by the gripping, the rower handles your wrists and hands also become stronger.

Aerobic Conditioning

Rowing is an activity, which increases our heart rate, thereby offering a great aerobic workout. It is recommended that adults should receive a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for five days a week or 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise for five days a week. Rowing constantly can help in maintaining a healthy heart rate in both high and low-intensity motion range. In fact, many modern indoor rowing machines come with the ability to monitor your heart rate.

Low-Impact Workout

The motion of the rowing machine is primarily low impact. This workout does not apply much strength to any part of your body. So it is a great cardiovascular activity for beginners or people who cannot do high-intensity workouts due to some injury or other conditions.

The Dos And Don’ts Of Rowing Machine

Following are the do and don’ that you should consider while using a rowing machine:

Keep Your Form Right

When using the rowing machine, do not hunch your shoulder and back. Using incorrect posture puts extreme strain on different parts of the body. As a result, you can experience soreness, and it may take longer to see the results. So sit up straight and arch your back slightly while moving forward. Moreover, when you are pulling back, don’t use back; rather, push the pedal from the legs in order to avoid back strain.

Don’t Push Too Much From The Torso

Keep your back slightly arched past a 90-degree angle to avoid any injury and acquire a swift motion on the rowing machine. People tend to bend excessively forwards and pull from the torso because they think it will offer more power after the row. However, when you pull too much from the torso, it puts them back in an incorrect position. To ensure that you are not leaning too much, check the feet. You do not want the wheel to lose contact with the pedals. Instead of curving your spine, bend from the hips.

Get Power From Legs

The majority of the drive when rowing should come from your legs; instead of your arms or back. By bending and pushing them back and forward, the leg should do most of the work. Our legs are stronger than our arms, so you should leverage them to work the rower.

Don’t Forget To Properly Breathe

Rowing requires rhythmic, repetitive motion. This means that you have to match the breathing to the rowing motion. Breathe out when applying power and breathe out when recovery. This is similar to aligning your breathing when you run.

How Long Should You Use A Rowing Machine To Build Muscles?

The best approach to gain lean muscles is using a rowing machine for HIIT exercises. These are short yet intense and help in the faster breakdown of fibers in muscles, resulting in growth. Start with 20 seconds of intense rowing and follow it by 20 seconds of rest. Continue these steps as many times as you can. This workout duration can be 10 minutes or less than that. You can complement this HIIT exercise with supplemental exercises such as sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, etc.

Can You Get In Shape By Merely Rowing?

Rowing is a versatile exercise that targets different fitness goals. Regular rowing proves to be an excellent way to lose the fat and tone your physique. Depending on your fitness level, you can choose whether you should go for a high-intensity workout or low-intensity. You start with 300 minutes of rowing at moderate speed five times a day every week. And as you build strength, you can increase either the intensity or the duration of the exercise.

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