Why choose Indoor Rowing? All Pros, No Cons!

Why choose Indoor Rowing? All Pros, No Cons!

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Indoor rowing is an incredibly versatile activity, used as a training tool by everyone from elite athletes, weekend warriors, regular gym goers to total novices and those rehabbing from an injury.  But why is it so popular and what are the benefits that make it such a compelling and widespread choice? 

Six Benefits of Indoor Rowing Training

The benefits of a rowing machine range from reduced injury risk to the varied types of workouts you can complete. 

The rowing ergometer (erg) is ideal for completing both high intensity cardio workouts, and lower rate fat-burning workouts.  You can complete a full resistance based aerobic workout, building and working the muscles in your legs, abs and arms.

Man on erg learning how to row

1. Indoor Rowing is Low Impact

With the rowing machine, you can work to your max without the impact on your knees and joints.  If you have bad knees, are suffering from the early stages of arthritis or previously had an injury in your leg, the rowing machine is a great option for you.  Building the muscle around your legs and knees is important for preventing injuries and further issues, rowing is ideal for this as it focuses on the entire leg, particularly the quads and glutes.

The low impact nature of rowing, the way that you can easily vary intensity, and the flexibility of the machine means it is often used to help with rehabilitation after an injury, if this applies to you we'd recommend that you check out this article: Injury Recovery and Rehab through Rowing.

2. Less Pain/More Gain

Rowing uses concentric contractions, causing muscles to shorten and generate force while building & strengthening the muscle.  Weightlifting uses eccentric contractions which causes the muscles to lengthen under an opposing force, this can be painful and result in the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), especially for beginners.  Rowing reaps the same benefits without as much post-workout pain, meaning you can work out more consistently for longer.

Rowing also allows you to vary the intensity of your workout, on some machines you might have the ability to adjust the resistance mechanically, while on others you can simply vary the force of your drive phase.  This allows you to vary workouts depending upon your workout goals.

3. Full Body Workout

The rowing machine is a full-body workout, impacting something like 86% of the major muscle groups.  And while rowing mainly strengthens the legs through the push motion in the drive, your abs, back and arms also get significantly used. Your core benefits from the control and stability required for correct technique, and the arms get their own workout too.  The core and back strength required to stay upright helps strengthen the often-neglected lower back and improve posture. 

The asensei rowing app gives you technique coaching from some of the best coaches in the world, such as Olympic Champion Eric Murray and Master trainer Clare Holman from British Rowing.  If there's a particular element of your stroke that you want to work on then asensei can help.  In addition you will receive real time feedback on your splits, stroke rate and progress, setting you targets personalised for your ability and what they know you can achieve.  

When you compare indoor rowing to other common exercise machines such as a treadmill or an elliptical trainer you'll find the rowing machine wins out in terms of a full-body exercise.  A treadmill is largely a workout for the lower half of the body and any benefits to the upper body are largely incidental from burning calories, yet the rowing machine is just as effective at that and works the whole body.  The elliptical trainer does work the arms as well as the lower body, but you'll find that the rower will impact your core and arms in a more meaningful way.

4. Strong Body/Strong Mind

Rowing doesn’t just help boost your physical health, it is great for your overall wellbeing and mental health. 

Not only do you get those mood boosting endorphins post workout, but you also get a sense of achievement.  Rowing is great for practicing mindfulness whilst exercising, you can develop a great mind/body connection by focusing on the technique and different stages of connection throughout the workout.  The rhythm and flow of the strokes also help develop a more relaxed exercising mindset, allowing you to enjoy the session rather than focus on the struggle. 

All rowing coaches find that mindful athletes reap the most rewards from their training, this is why at asensei, the coaches focus on motivating you to be the best version of yourself – mind, body and soul.

5. Versatility - you choose the intensity!

If you get bored easy or hate long cardio sessions, the rowing machine is perfect.  The rowing ergometer (erg) is ideal for completing both high intensity cardio workouts, and lower rate fat-burning workouts.  You can complete a full resistance based aerobic workout, building and working the muscles in your legs, abs and arms.  Unlike a bike or treadmill, you don’t have to rely on manually changing settings to ease off, the rowing machine stops when you do, ideal for HIIT.  You can complete a good session in less than 30 minutes, perfect for those who are lunchtime warriors or have busy lifestyles.

6. Indoor Rowing is great for a Home workout

The indoor rowing machine is a significant size, fairly long and narrow, but after a workout you can store it upright, meaning that it doesn't take up a lot of floorspace and with most machines featuring caster wheels it's pretty easy to move around your home to suit your own setup.  It's also possible to split some machines into two pieces for storage, such as the concept 2 rower, meaning that it can often be stored in a cupboard or wardrobe between sessions. 

Comparing to other common exercise equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical trainer the rowing machine is far more portable and can be stored in a significantly smaller footprint. 

These characteristics make the Indoor Rowing machine a great choice for a home gym. 

You can find out everything you need to know about indoor rowing at home in The Essential Guide to Indoor Rowing at Home and if you are looking for inspiration and ideas for setting up and locating a rowing machine at home, then look no further than Inspiration for your home rowing gym setup.

Train with purpose to maximise the benefits of indoor rowing

The benefits of indoor rowing are undeniable, but to maximise the rewards you should ensure that you are training with purpose - with good technique, performing appropriate sessions and personalized programs. 

asensei offers structured training programs ranging from interval training to longer, technical sessions - ideal for everyone, from novice rowers to more experienced athletes.  You can choose from different plans to help you achieve your goals, whether you want to complete a fitness test such as the classic 2000m distance or just boost your overall fitness – asensei can help you achieve those goals. 

Check out some of the programs asensei can offer you in Our Favorite Training Programs - we cover training for beginners, those who want to improve their technique, who want to train for a goal, more advanced rowing programs and more!

In addition Olympian Eric Murray has created a series of videos, and articles to help improve your training and mindset for competition.   So whether you’re an elite athlete, chasing a new PB or just setting yourself a benchmark to improve upon –  there is something for everyone with Team asensei!


The rowing machine offers a host of benefits: it's low impact and you can choose the intensity, it works most major muscle groups to give you a whole body workout and it's ideally suited to working out at home.  What are you waiting for?  Get started today!


asensei is free to download and you can trial the first 3 workouts in the (RE)COMMIT program and let Eric calculate a 2k time that he can coach you to achieve in only 6 weeks.

All you need is an iPhone and access to an asensei Compatible rowing machine from Concept 2, WaterRower or FluidRower with a bluetooth capable monitor.

download asensei from the appstore

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