Rowing Machine Muscles UsedWant to know an interesting fact!?

The rowing machine muscles used while rowing equal about 84% of the total muscles in your body!

Now what other workout machine can boast these types of numbers?

Rowing machines are known as a full body workout because they exercise every major muscle group and provide a fantastic cardiovascular workout.

Rowers can expect to burn anywhere between 400-800 calories an hour on average based upon their current fitness levels.

More on the calorie topic in my article about Burning Calories With A Rowing Machine.

Using a rowing machine is also great because it is low impact, meaning it is great for people with injuries and bad knees.

So what muscles does a rowing machine work? Being that it is an almost perfect piece of workout equipment the rowing machine muscles targeted are:

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Lats
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Back
  • Biceps

Rowing Machine Muscles Used

Plus it is one of the most extreme cardio workouts you can perform- so your lungs will be feeling it as well!

With all these rowing machine muscles used, it doesn’t surprise me that rowing has become increasingly popular in todays Crossfit style training environment.

Depending on how you train, you can row to increase you cardiovascular capabilities or use it to build strength and power.

Due to a rowing stroke being performed in 4 phases there are different muscle groups worked during each phase. I will go over the 4 phases and then breakdown each muscle targeted during each rowing machine phase.

Complete Rowing Stroke

When beginning to row you will learn there are 4 phases to a rowing stroke. They are the:

  1. Catch
  2. Drive
  3. Finish
  4. Recovery

These photos illustrate the different positions.

Rowing Machine Muscles

 

The Catch is the beginning of your stroke where your knees are bent, shins are vertical, arms are straight, and body leaning slightly forward

The Drive begins with pushing off with you legs, then swinging your back through the vertical position, and then pulling with your arms.

The Finish is where your upper body is leaned slightly back, legs are extended, and the handle is pulled to your lower chest.

The Recovery is the reverse order of everything just performed. You begin by extending your arms, leaning from your hips forward, and then begin bending your knees until you are back in the catch position.

Here is a quick video of the rowing stroke:

Muscles Used While Rowing

Now that we did a quick overview of the different phases of a rowing machine stroke we can cover the rowing machine muscles used during each phase.

Listed are the major muscle groups targeted but if you look at the colored photos you can see some of the smaller muscle groups worked as well.

The Catch

Rowing Machine Muscles Used Catch

  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Traps
  • Calves
  • Hamstring
  • Abdominal
  • Lower Back

The Drive (3 Phases)

Leg Emphasis 

Rowing Machine Muscles Used Drive Legs

  • Deltoids
  • Traps
  • Upper Back
  • Glutes
  • Hamstring
  • Quads
  • Calves

Body Swing Emphasis

Rowing Machine Muscles Used Drive Body Swing

  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Middle Back
  • Calves
  • Hamstring
  • Abdominal
  • Glutes
  • Quads

Arm Pull Through Emphasis 

Rowing Machine Muscles Used Drive Arm Pull

  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Delts
  • Traps
  • Lats
  • Quads

The Finish

Rowing Machine Muslces Used Finish

  • Traps
  • Delts
  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Lats
  • Glutes
  • Quads

The Recovery

Rowing Machine Muslces Used Recovery

  • Traps
  • Hamstring
  • Calves
  • Delts
  • Triceps
  • Forearms
  • Abdominal

(These photos were taken from the Concept 2 website which is a great source for rowing information)

As you can see the rowing machine muscles used during the 4 phases are just about every muscle in the body!! It would probably have been easier to just name the muscles it doesn’t target.

To target all of these muscle groups you just have to simply perform a basic rowing stroke.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure you already guessed it, but I’m a huge proponent of the rowing machine. I feel it is one of the best all-around pieces of fitness equipment and they are great for home-use.

The rowing machine uses almost every muscle in the body while still giving a great cardiovascular workout! This leads to losing more weight, building more lean muscle, and saving you time!

For more informational articles like this one check out my Rowing Machine Articles section.

I have a great article called Will A Rowing Machine Help Me Lose Weight? which may also interest you.

Plus, another article answering the questions, What Does A Rowing Machine Do For My Body?

If this article helped convince you the rowing machine targets enough muscles and you want to buy one, then check out my best home rowing machine picks here.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions please leave me a comment below! I love answering your questions so don’t hesitate to ask!

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