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  • Writer's pictureCRAIG BRYAN


How many times have you walked by a rowing machine in the gym but never used it? You are missing out on some amazing benefits. Rowing is an unbelievable stand-alone exercise.

Rowing works nine major muscle groups, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulders, triceps, back, and biceps. Rowing also develops cardiovascular strength, increases flexibility, and burns 500 to 1000 calories per hour.

Rowing also helps you improve movement patterns (especially as we age), such as leg press, hip hinge, and scapular retraction, which also helps posture. Increases tendon and ligament strength along with overall conditioning. It’s a great endurance exercise that increases heart function with little pressure on the joints.

Remember that rowing is an “exertion-recovery” exercise. As you pull, you are exerting energy and as you return to the “catch” (the forward most position on the machine), your body is resting. Try to develop a rhythm with one count in exertion and two counts in rest. That will allow you to row longer, with more force.

Proper technique is easy to learn and you can find free videos online to learn correct form, ask your local gym or personal trainer for instruction.


Start by driving legs while engaging your core muscles. The upper torso should be fixed either in a vertical position or no more than 10 degrees forward of vertical. After the leg drive, the upper torso will continue the momentum by rotating back no more than 10 degrees from vertical. Then follow through by pulling the hands back to the chest. Recovery is accomplished by extending the arms first, followed by a slight torso movement forward then retracting the legs to start position. Do NOT move the torso more than 10 degrees either forward or back during the exercise unless you are training under the supervision of a rowing coach.

Common mistakes

  • Using your arms too soon.

  • Letting only your legs in the seat while pushing back.

  • Bowling too much with the torso.

  • Definitely, incorporate rowing into your workouts. You can get an awesome workout hitting a lot of major muscle groups in a short period of time.

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