Indoor Rowing: Benefits for All Abilities & Levels of Fitness

“…typically using around 300 calories in 30 minutes – pretty impressive for a ‘sitting-down exercise'” (Roberts, 2017, p.12)

Despite not using all three planes of motion and being a sit down exercise (to the horror of functional training protagonists), there are many “benefits to indoor rowing.” (Roberts, 2017, p.12) and it is an excellent exercise modality.

Indoor rowing has a growing competitive scene and British Rowing has launched the ‘Go Row Initiative’ with the objective of making it a mass market activity, with Start Rowing having a range of indoor rowing machines to choose from.

Indoor rowing provides a very good cardiovascular workout and, for those looking for it, fat burning efficiency. It is also a low impact exercise and can be used by all abilities and levels of fitness.

Indoor rowing is a leg-driven exercise, not an arms driven exercise (Roberts, 2017):

  • The legs and gluteals provide 60% of the power;
  • The body another 30%; and
  • The arms provide 10%.

One can tweak these variables to provide both strength and endurance training.

However, correct form and technique is important when rowing. If you are in a c-shape and/or complain of back pain when rowing then its likely, for example, that you have weak abdominals/core stability.

When learning to use an indoor rowing machine and/or in the early stages, turn off your monitor so you can concentrate on form and technique rather than the numbers flickering on the monitor (Roberts, 2017).

Although an indoor rower might seem like a big ticket item, it should be viewed as a long-term (health and fitness) investment giving years/decades of fitness delight!


Roberts, C. (2017) Go Row. Fitness Matters: Official Magazine of REPS UK. Leeds: Coachwise Limited.


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