Rowing Machine Workouts for Beginners

Rowing Machine Workouts for Beginners

Authored by Marshall on July 15, 2022

Curious about rowing for beginners? You’re in the right place. Today, you’ll learn how to start rowing—from the proper technique to progressive exercises and more.

The Beginner Rowing Workout

Looking for a good beginner rowing program? 

Whether performed on a winding river or a gym machine, rowing is a fantastic exercise with many great benefits. But if you’ve never rowed before, you likely have questions about what it is, how to do it, and why so many athletes choose it as a preferred workout. 

If these questions sound familiar, you’re in luck—here at Jack City, we’re big on rowing, and we’d love to share our expertise with you. Whether you’re after rowing machine workouts for beginners or want to optimize your existing routine, we’re here to help. Below, you can read through our guide to rowing for beginners. If you come away with any more questions, don’t forget to get in touch with our team—we’re fitness experts, and we love helping athletes find answers. When rowing with us, life is but a dream!

What Muscles Are Worked With a Beginner Rowing Machine Workout?

Rowing is technically classified as a form of cardiovascular exercise, but despite that title, it also makes for a great form of muscular training! Rowing, whether on a machine or in an actual boat, works an impressive number of muscles. In fact, rowing can actually be a full-body workout! And unlike many full-body workouts, rowing is incredibly low-impact, making it a safe choice for athletes of varying fitness and health levels.

It’s important to remember that while the rowing machine offers a full-body workout, it must be utilized properly to reap those benefits. A rowing “stroke” requires proper form, generally said to take place in four parts (we’ll outline them below). During the first half of a stroke (the “drive”), you will work your posterior chain, which includes your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. During the second half of your stroke (the “pull” or “finish”), muscles worked include the biceps, quads, forearms, and lats.

How to Use a Rowing Machine for Beginners 

Never used a rowing machine before? No problem. Rowing for beginners is very straightforward. As we mentioned previously, a typical rowing “stroke” can be broken down into four parts:

  • Catch/Positioning

To perform a rowing stroke, begin with the “catch” move. Start by getting into position; you should be at the front of your machine, with a tight core, engaged lats, and your shins in a vertical pose. You want your torso positioned so your shoulders are further out than your hips.

  • Drive

Continue to lean your torso forwards while straightening and stretching your legs out. As you continue extending your legs, lean your torso backwards in one fluid motion.

  • Pull

At this point, your legs should be fully stretched out, and your torso should be at 11 o’clock. Engage your core, and pull the machine’s handle towards your sternum. 

  • Recovery/Finish

Almost there! This step of a drive can be performed at a slower speed. Relax your arms and bring them away from your body, and once the handle travels over your knees, bring them back to a bent position.

Congratulations, you just performed your first rowing stroke! Now that you know the basics, we recommend working with your fitness coach to figure out the right rep count and routine and ensure you are nailing the exact form. 

beginner rowing workout

Benefits of Rowing Machine for Beginners and Pros Alike

There’s a reason that so many athletes prefer to work out on a rowing machine: it comes with all kinds of benefits! Here are some of our absolute favorites:

  • It’s a Full-Body Workout

Looking for a full-body workout? With the rowing machine, you’ve found a great answer. Although the rowing machine may seem small or unassuming compared to other gym staples, it packs a serious bodily punch. Rowing offers athletes a fantastic full-body workout—when you perform a stroke, everything from your lats to your glutes gets attention!

  • It’s Low-Impact

When exploring rowing for beginners, some athletes worry that the workout might be hard on their bodies. While this can be a concern with certain workouts, rowing does not tend to be one of them; it’s incredibly low-impact and safe for folks of all health and fitness levels. However, we always recommend that newbies have a chat with their doctor before embarking on any new workout routine, as well as starting out with a fitness coach to ensure safe form and workout levels.

  • It’s Weatherproof

Sure, rowing on the river is a lovely activity… but the weather doesn’t always make it easy! On a rainy, stormy, or humid day, sitting on a boat outdoors isn’t always the best option. However, an indoor rowing machine (especially one at a 24-hour gym) is there whenever you need it, regardless of weather or daylight hours.

  • It’s Great for Beginners

There’s no gatekeeping when it comes to this type of exercise—rowing for beginners is popular for a reason. Being low-impact and straightforward to learn makes rowing the perfect workout for fitness newcomers.

  • It’s an Excellent Form of Cardio

Not only does rowing exercise your whole body, it’s also a fantastic form of aerobic exercise, otherwise known as cardio. Cardio is great for your heart, lungs, and blood vessels, and can also help efficiently burn calories. 

  • It’s Endurance Royalty

If you’re trying to enhance your endurance levels, don’t skip the rowing machine. It offers the chance to build both muscular and cardiovascular endurance in athletes. 

  • It Delivers Big Results in Less Time

Rowing is a super-efficient way to get fit. Not many low-impact workouts facilitate a full-body muscular and cardiovascular workout at the same time, all while increasing endurance and power! It’s like a workout version of a protein shake—it packs a serious punch in way less time.

  • It’s a Power Booster

When rowing, your arms and legs work really hard—and that helps them become more powerful! This can help you succeed across other forms of athletics.

  • It’s Great for Your Mind

Rowing can be incredibly cathartic. Once you’ve nailed the motion, you can allow your mind to drift and relax.

Try a Beginner Rowing Workout at Jack City Fitness!

At Jack City Fitness, we offer the enthusiastic athlete everything they need to succeed! Whether you want to try rowing with our ultra-modern workout equipment, learn the basics of endurance training, or plan to jump into one of our famous classes, everything you need is waiting for you here at Jack City Fitness in Boise. If you’re ready to start, get in touch with our team by calling (208) 999-1111 today. 

We’ll invite you over for a FREE fitness consultation and a chance to tour our facility! If you decide to become a Partner, you’ll have immediate 24/7 access to our entire facility.

We can’t wait to meet you and help you smash your goals!



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