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Do Rowing Machines Make Your Legs Bigger? Find Out Here

Do Rowing Machines Make Your Legs Bigger? Find Out Here

Will a Rowing Machine Give Me Bulky Legs?

Many people might hold off from trying out the indoor rowing machine at their gym for fear it will make their legs look bulky. 

While a rowing exercise machine will indeed make your lower body more toned and gain muscle, for you to gain bulk is unlikely without weight training combined and a calorie surplus. 

So as you can decide whether or not you want to try out some indoor rowing classes, we have discussed if a rowing machine can make you bulky below, other common misconceptions of a rowing machine and the benefits of using one to help you out. 

Let’s get into it! 

Will a Rowing Machine Make Me Bulky? 

Firstly, let’s address the burning question, will a rowing machine cause you to have bulky thighs? 

One of the perks of rowing classes indeed is that they will help you build muscle in your lower legs, but an indoor rower will unlikely make you bulky without major muscle weight lifting on the side too, in fact, rowing machines are a cardiovascular workout which means they up your heart rate and get your body burning calories, translating to fat loss. 

A regular rowing machine class will give you lean muscle rather than bulky muscle as long as you are not pairing it with weight training and a calorie surplus. 

Many people assume their thigh muscles have become bulky when they start to feel tighter and the number on the scale goes up, but most of the time as we mentioned this is the lean muscle you are building so will make you appear even slimmer rather than bulky. 

If you do feel as if your legs have got bulkier since you started working out with a rowing machine then double-check your calorie intake too and make sure you are not eating in a calorie surplus or getting too much protein intake in your diet, all of this can lead to extra bulky muscle gain without you realising. 

Common Misconceptions About Rowing Machines 

Since we have already busted the myth that an indoor rower will give you bulky thighs, there are a lot of other juicy rowing machine myths circulating which might be putting you off using rowers. 

It’s Too Harsh On Your Upper Body 

If you have back or upper body pain from using a professional rowers machine then it is likely due to poor form when using the rowing machine, rowers strengthen your body muscles and help you form lean ab muscles. 

Posterior chain muscles are also strengthened by rower machines so ensure you are using yours correctly. 

Rowing Is Only Forms Of Cardio 

Rowing machines can indeed burn hundreds of calories and help you lose weight, but they should not be mistaken as just a machine for cardio as these rowers do help you develop toned muscles too through the pulling and resistance as you workout strengthening posterior chain muscles and your legs. 

The Faster Your Pull The Better 

Many people assume that if your pulling faster on a rowing machine that this means you are covering more distance, this is false, and it’s more down to how much effort you put into each stroke on the machine that equals distance. 

More Resistance Is Key 

Higher resistance on your rowing machine does not always mean you are having a better workout, for example, if you are interested in cardio only then keep the resistance to a minimum, however, if you want to build core muscles and lower body strength then up the resistance accordingly!

Benefits Of Using a Rowing Machine

Now we know that a rowing machine will not make you bulky and we have busted some other common myths, let’s explore the benefits of using a rowing machine and the good it can do for your body with regular weeks of rowing classes. 

  • They are low-impact – One of the main advantages of working out with a rowing machine is that they are more low-impact than other exercise machines on the market and put much less stress on your joints. 
  • Great for beginners – Rowing machines are great for beginners as they are not too intense and can be adjusted to suit your level of resistance, to begin with. 
  • Works out your whole body – Working out on a rowing machine is a full-body workout and uses 86% of your muscles in total including your upper and lower body. 
  • Good for your mental health – One perk of rowing classes is that they get your endorphins going and are very meditative due to the back and forth rowing motions that are repeated. 
  • Can help with posture – To use a real rowing machine the right way you have to make sure are sitting correctly otherwise it can result in back pain, learning to sit upright like this can improve your posture off the rowing machine too. 
  • Builds muscle – Without a doubt, rowing machines tone your muscles and can help build up your lower body strength over time with added resistance, this can result in a more lean and toned look to your body. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Legs & Rowing Machines 

How many calories can I burn on a rowing machine? 

This depends on factors such as the resistance you are using and your body weight, but on average, you could potentially burn up to 255 calories on a rowing machine if you weigh 125 pounds in 30 minutes. 

Why do rowers often have bulkier thighs? 

Rowers often have bulkier thighs as they workout pretty much most of the time, these rowing transformations happen as a result of rowing long distances daily as not likely achieved by the average gym-goer. 

Will my thighs look slimmer from a rowing machine? 

Yes, your thighs might have a slimmer appearance after using a rowing machine as this equipment can tone them up and build lean muscle. 

How much do home rowing machines cost? 

Depending on the model you buy, rowing machines typically range in prices between £200-£300. 

Does a rowing machine help you lose weight? 

Yes, in combination with a healthy diet and a calorie deficit a rowing machine can help you lose weight as it is a form of cardio. 

How often should I work out a rowing machine? 

To start with, try using a rowing machine for 30 minutes three times a week, then add sessions as your fitness level starts to grow. 

Why am I getting bulky from my rowing machine?

If you are getting bulky from a rowing machine this might be down to you eating in calorie surplus without you knowing and weight training in combination.

What are some drawbacks of a rowing machine? 

Like every exercise, rowing machines do have some disadvantages to be aware of, for example, these machines can take up a lot of space and also strain your lower back as a beginner user. 

Final Words 

Overall, rowing machines will not make your legs bigger as long as you are not weight training in combination and eating in a calorie surplus, rowers will make your legs look smaller as they build lean tone muscle in your lower body with regular use.


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.