A rowing machine is the cardio-vascular apparatus that uses the most muscles. Which muscles come into play when you work out on a rowing machine?
At the arm level, the biceps as well as the wrist flexors and extensors are worked as you pull on the “oar”. The triceps will be involved in the recovery phase.
The shoulders, or deltoid muscles, stabilize the arms and keep them level, while the back part of the shoulders, together with the supraspinous and infraspinous, teres minor and teres major muscles, help bring the arms back.
As for the back, it is the lumbar, the latissumus dorsi, rhomboid and trapezius muscles that are getting the workout. The lumbar muscles work throughout the exercise, the rhomboids are used during the drive phase and the others, during the movement of the oar.
Regarding the legs, during the drive phase, calf, soleus, quadriceps and hamstring muscles are in action. The gluteus maximus muscle comes into play during the finish. Then, the calf muscles are once again activated during the recovery phase when returning to the starting position.
Abdominal muscles : These muscles should remain contracted throughout the movement in order to maintain good posture, however they work more during the movement of the oar.
When using a rowing machine, it is important to have correct technique to avoid the risk of injuries.
To learn more about this technique, read our article: rowing technique.