can you get fit just using a rowing machine

Can You Get Fit Just Using a Rowing Machine?

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Hi friends, it’s your friend Kathleen, and today, we are going to chat for a little while about one of the best but not well-known ways to blast away fat and ditch that spare tire – the rowing machines!

It doesn’t matter if you have never used a rowing machine or haven’t exercised in years. All you really need to get a trophy body is a rowing machine.

You might think I’m kidding, and while I do like to joke around, there are facts to back up every claim I make.

If you want to get rid of that middle-aged spread, gain muscle mass, burn calories like crazy, and get all the benefits that regular exercise has to offer, you don’t need a gym membership or to jog around the block like a dog on a leash (although I do like walking my dogs, don’t get me wrong). All you need is one simple thing: a rowing machine.

If you don’t believe that, just keep reading. You’re going to have your jaw on the floor by the end of this article!

Can You Get in Shape by Just Rowing?

The short answer here is, yes, you bet your behind you can! There are SO many benefits when it comes to rowing, but one of them is that rowing is the perfect exercise designed to get you in shape and keep you there!

can you get fit just using a rowing machine

When you perform the rowing strokes correctly, rowing workouts will literally strip that fat from your body, build new muscles, and improve your overall health and cardiovascular fitness like nothing else.

What Kind of Exercise Do Rowing Machines Offer?

OK, I’ve heard that jumping rope is the #1 way to get all those things and burn a few more calories than rowing does (learn more), and if you’re in your 20’s, you might be able to go full-on jump-rope crazy. For me, however, my knees would never allow it. That’s why rowing holds the upper hand for people with joint issues.

Low-Impact Exercise

I think that’s the best part about rowing workouts. It is a low-impact exercise, meaning it’s the best workout for anyone who has bad knees (read more), a bad back, or other health problems that make other exercise equipment painful to use.

I can tell you personally that using a rowing machine changed my life (read more). I was a treadmill fan before I injured my back. I packed on some pounds while I was healing, and afterward, I found most other forms of exercise still gave me a backache.

Rowing did not make my back or knees hurt, and I lost weight more easily than I had in the past doing other workout programs.

Full-Body Workout

There’s a good reason why many professional athletes, such as CrossFit athletes, NFL players, and even UFC fighters, use rowing machines. Rowing exercise offers full-body workouts that benefit nearly every person on the planet.

Is rowing alone a good workout?

No more spin classes that work your lower half but require you to do weightlifting or some other type of fitness routine to work on your upper half. A workout routine that uses a rowing machine will improve your aerobic capacity, engage 86% of the body’s muscles, reduce body fat, and have you in better shape than you ever dreamed possible in just a few weeks.

Time-Saving Fitness Program

Trust me, the physical benefits of rowing are well worth the effort you put into it. Want dancer’s legs and a tight behind? Just a short workout of 20 or 30 minutes every day is all you need to get the results you want.

How Long Do You Need to Use a Rowing Machine to See Results?

This will depend on many factors, such as your age, current weight, and how hard you plan on working out.

Let me tell you, sitting on the rowing machine and grabbing a bite of a Krispy Kreme donut every time you go forward is NOT going to get you where you want to be. Neither is sitting on the rowing machine watching tv and barely moving.

In short, you will get out of rowing exactly what you put into it. If you want to lose weight and get back into bikini body shape, you will need to put in some effort.

Beginners or those who haven’t exercised in a while will be surprised to find that you can only do about 5 minutes before you are exhausted. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal. The trick is to never give up!

Is a rowing machine a good way to get fit?

Do as much as you can, even if it’s only 5 minutes, then after a week, try to add 1 more minute to your rowing workout. You will be surprised at how quickly you can start doing 20- and 30-minute rowing workouts.

When I was starting, one thing I loved about rowing was that I didn’t get really sore muscles after working out, unlike most other machines. This is because the effort you are applying is equally spread throughout the body. You will feel a little bit sore but nothing like you would expect from a full-body workout like this.

If you want to maintain your current weight or current fitness level, you can probably get away with only a 20-minute workout (remember to work up a sweat!) 5 or 6 days per week.

For everyone else, work yourself up to a 30-minute rowing workout and aim for 6 days per week to see the fastest results.

Is 20-Minutes of Rowing Enough?

It might not seem possible, but yes, 20-minutes of at least moderate effort on an indoor rowing machine is enough of a full-body workout to get you in fantastic shape.

Rowing engages all the major muscle groups and gives you a stellar cardio workout, which is what you need to shed excess fat. The great thing about a rowing workout is that you can do both cardio and muscle-toning at the same time. It’s like lifting weights while you run! Imagine if you could do that, wouldn’t it be great to get in an entire body type of exercise like that?

How Effective is Rowing as Your Primary Form of Exercise?

That is exactly what a rowing workout is all about. Yes, there are other cardio machines, such as a stair climber, but they don’t work your upper body. The same is true with my beloved treadmill.

With an indoor rowing machine, you can do a high-intensity workout to have less body fat and build lean muscle in no time at all.

For most people, all it takes is a 20-minute workout most days of the week to improve their fitness level and lose fat like crazy.

Is One Type of Rowing Machine Better Than Others?

To be perfectly honest, not really. I would avoid those hydraulic indoor rowers since they aren’t really rowers, but otherwise, it’s a matter of preference.

Magnetic rowers, such as Hydrow, are very popular since they offer the quietest type of resistance. Many people love water rowers, such as Ergatta, because they love the sound of water and the feeling of actually rowing on the water.

Can I just Row to Get Fit?

Other machines, such as Aviron, combine the best of both worlds by using both air and magnetic resistance.

When it comes to the type of resistance a machine has, it’s really just a matter of which type appeals to you. If you have the opportunity, try out several different types before deciding on a particular type and brand of an indoor rower. If you aren’t sure about which rowing machine might be best for you, this article might interest you and provide you with more information.

How Long Should a Beginner Use a Rowing Machine?

As I mentioned earlier, most beginners will probably find it hard to spend more than 5 minutes when they start out.

However, you should keep at it and don’t give up! You can do only 5 minutes, if that’s all you can do, but strive to improve each day or week. The longer you keep on rowing, the easier it gets for you.

Proper Rowing Form & Technique

For beginners, I want to talk to you about your rowing technique. Using the proper rowing form is far more important than rowing speed or the amount of time you spend rowing.

Using the proper rowing stroke will prevent you from hurting your back, getting tendonitis in your wrists or elbows, and generally making your rowing experience not very pleasant.

Some machines, such as Ergatta, offer a short instructional video that explains the rowing stroke. If you don’t have one of these smart rowers, you can always hit up YouTube for instructional videos or you can join a class at your local gym.

There are tons of rowing machine workouts for your pleasure. Whether you prefer the gamified rowing workouts of Ergatta or the on-the-water rowing workouts that Hydrow offers, you are sure to find some type of indoor rower workout that appeals to you.

Get the One Thing Everyone Wants from Your Rowing Machine Workouts

I want to share my little secret for not only burning more calories than you thought possible (even after you have stopped exercising) but also getting those most-coveted tight 6-pack abs.

OK, even if you don’t want a 6-pack, you want a tight, toned tummy, right? You can totally get that by doing HIIT workouts on your indoor rowing machine.

HIIT or high-intensity interval training will result in more calories burned than with a traditional rowing workout. What’s more, you may also cut your exercise time in half and still enjoy the benefits.

It’s true! Scientists don’t exactly know why this works, but they know that it does. HIIT means that you will exercise as hard as you can for a short period of time (for example you will row as fast as possible for 2 minutes) followed by a short period of rest or slowing down (say, you might row very slowly for the next 2 minutes).

HIIT workout programs can be completed in about 20 minutes and you only need to do them every other day! This means you will have more free time for yourself, or you can do other exercise programs (such as yoga or weight lifting) if you like.


Rowing can give you those tight abdominal muscles if you know a little secret about how you can engage those core muscles. This video above explains it far better than I ever could, so check it out.

Want all of the rowing machine benefits, burn major calories, and have abs that you can be proud of in just 3 or 4 rowing workouts each week? Then you will want to try HIIT workouts. I promise you, they are the bomb!

The Final Takeaway

Rowing machines provide a terrific cardio workout while you enjoy the feeling of being on the water. I think that is the appeal of water rowers, such as Ergatta. The sound of swooshing water in the tank even provides stress relief and improves your mental health.

The fact remains that anytime you do a cardio workout, the body responds with fat loss. Combine that with strength training to build increased lean muscle mass, and you’ve got a winner when it comes to looking great naked.

I love my rowing machine and I bet you will too!

Stay healthy and happy because life is too short for anything else.