Skip to content

What Muscles Are Targeted With A Rowing Machine? Find Out Here

While you may think that using a rowing machine is just sitting down and pressing a button, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your body is actually working hard to help you complete that task. Every muscle group is working to keep you balanced, while you use arms, legs, and abs to move the rowing machine.

Start by sitting down and attaching the adjustable foot straps to the bottom of your shoes. Pull back on the handle and lean forward, using the handles to keep your balance.

Exercising with a rowing machine is a great way to burn calories and strengthen your upper body and lower body. The muscles that are targeted during rowing are the abdominal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, and biceps.

If you are looking to lose weight, tone up, or just get into shape, one of the most effective exercises you can do is the rowing machine. Using a rowing machine to train your upper body is an effective way to strengthen your arms, chest, back, and shoulders. And since it is a low-impact exercise, you can safely row for an extended period of time to get the results you want.

The Muscles Used in Rowing Change During Each Step of the Rowing Movement

Before we dive in, let’s talk about what muscles are. Muscles are basically bundles of tissue. There are three types of muscle tissue: Skeletal, Cardiac, and Smooth. Skeletal muscle tissue is attached to bones by tendons and is responsible for the movement of the body.

Cardiac muscle tissue is found only in the heart and is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. Smooth muscle tissue is found in the walls of organs, such as the intestine.

The rowing stroke involves a lot of upper-body muscles, including the biceps, shoulder muscles, and back muscles. However, the primary muscles used in the stroke include the latissimus dorsi (the large muscles of the back), the deltoids (or shoulder muscles), and the biceps.

During the drive phase, your arms act as propellers to pull the oar through the water; in the recovery, they control the shape of the blade before you pull it up again. Pulling back on the handle and pushing down on the handle move the oar through the water.

Rowing Machine: Muscles Worked During Step 1: The “Catch”

The rowing machine is a great way to get a full-body workout. It uses the power of your entire body to move a handle that slides on a rail. Unlike the treadmill or stationary bike, the rowing machine doesn’t require momentum to keep moving. It uses almost every muscle in your body, including your arms, legs, back, glutes, and abdominal muscles.

Rowing Machine: Muscles Used During Step 2: The “Drive”

In the second step of the rowing stroke, the “drive”, your legs, glutes (buttocks), back, and arms all contract to produce the power that moves your boat forward. The drive is often the most challenging step, especially for those who are new to rowing. It is also the most effective step because the amount of power you can produce in this step is the most important in determining the overall speed of your boat.

Rowing Machine: Muscles Targeted During Step 3: The “Finish”

The bigger your back muscles are, the more power and support you will be able to provide to your shoulders during the row. This will allow you to lift heavier weight, which will help you to get a better workout and see more results. To build up your back muscles, the third step of your rowing routine will help you to target your lower back.

The lower back muscles are the biggest muscles in your body. They are responsible for supporting your back and spine. They also help you to maintain good posture. You can work your lower back muscles by lying on the floor. You should then lift your legs and chest off the floor. You should then bring your chest to your knees. You should then lift your chest and legs off the floor.

Rowing Machine: Muscles Worked During Step 4: The “Recovery”

Congratulations! You’re on the home stretch. You’ve completed all the reps required of your muscle groups, and now you’re moving on to the “recovery” phase of the exercise. On a rowing machine, it’s the step that comes right after the “return” phase, but in the real world, it’s when you’re done exercising.

In this step, the focus is on improving cardiovascular fitness, as well as strengthening the muscles of the upper body and lower body.  During this step of the rowing machine exercise, both arms and both legs are used, in a way that is similar to swimming.  Your legs and arms should move at the same time and with the same force, and you should use the same force for each movement.

Downsides of Using a Rowing Machine

When considering buying a rowing machine, it is important to be aware that this is a big commitment to your health and fitness. A rowing machine will give you great cardio and tone muscle, but there are some downsides you should know about.

Practicality: You’ll need some space for a rowing machine since they come in a range of sizes. Smaller models can be tucked away in a corner of the room, but the larger ones can be challenging to fit in your home. You’ll also need to have access to an electrical outlet.

Safety: Getting on and off a rowing machine can be a bit of a challenge for people with balance issues. This is especially true for the taller rowers.

Last Words

If you haven’t yet tried rowing, you are missing out on a fantastic full-body workout that will improve your strength and endurance. Rowing is one of the best exercises you can do if you want to strengthen your upper and lower body at the same time, and because it works both the front and back of your body, you will be able to tone your muscles with regular rowing sessions.


Randy Lucas

Randy here - Fitness enthusiast and avid runner - besides running I also love playing with my two German Shepherds Peter and Bruce - oh and I love cooking. I am the Webmaster over at where I ramble about all things fitness in an effort to make the world a healthier place.