What are the Common Rowing Machine Benefits?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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A rowing machine, also called an ergometer or erg for short, is an exercise machine that simulates the movements of rowing in a racing boat. They have different benefits for different types of users. For those who race on crew teams competitively, some of the most common rowing machine benefits are the ability to see stroke strength displayed in numbers, as well as the ability to stay trained even on stormy days and during the winter months. Others see the main rowing machine benefits as related to more general fitness. Rowing machines engage many of the body’s muscles without impact, which makes them an attractive workout tool for people with joint injuries or sensitivities, and also burns a lot of calories in a relatively short window.

Exercise on a rowing machine typically involves a series of coordinated muscle movements performed sitting on the sliding chair of the ergometer. The legs move in, from quadriceps to thighs, and then push back, generally with some degree of force. The arms and back pull the torso along with the legs in a motion that mimics an oar stroke. The movement then repeats.


Most of the time, a small computer screen is attached to the top of the rowing machine that displays different elements of rowing machine physical fitness. Strokes performed, force of stroke, and average speed are usually shown, as well as calories burned and time elapsed. On some models, users can set challenges to beat or timed drills using the display options. In this way, a rowing machine exercise regimen can be largely personalized.

Many rowers work out with ergometers in order to keep their bodies in top rowing condition when water conditions are not ideal. Winter training for crew teams usually takes place on rowing machines, for instance, and practice is often conducted on rowing machines on rainy or stormy days even in season. The rowing machine benefits of strength training and muscle conditioning keep athletes strong all year round.

Crew boats rarely have the measuring capabilities that ergometers do, which makes numerical data another of the top rowing machine benefits for athletes. Rowing machine upper body strength and leg force can be quantifiably measured on most ergs. Coaches use this data to assess the capabilities of individual rowers. Rowers, too, usually find the data beneficial to their own personal training.

Rowing machines also impart benefits to the general public. Correctly using a rowing machine works more muscles in a zero-impact setting than everyday activities like walking or running, and tones those muscles. Unlike running, which can be tough on knee joints, working out on a rowing machine is purely a tense-and-release exercise that does not place pressure on any joints.

The calorie-burning potential of a rowing machine is another of the great rowing machine benefits. Because so many muscles are being used and so much of the body is moving to complete an erg stroke, the body spends a number of calories completing the routine. If used vigorously over a period of time, a rowing machine can dramatically help tone the body, and often leads to rowing machine weight loss.


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