Rowing Machine Muscle Groups

You already know that Rowing works for all the major muscle groups, right? But want to know exactly what this means and what are the rowing machine muscle groups?

What other exercise would you need to do to cover all the fitness ‘bases’?

Rowing Machine Muscle Groups

The Back

This is a good place to start. The back has one of the largest muscle groups; depending on your definition of the back it has about 56 muscles in total! Good news, the back is one of the most worked muscle groups in rowing.


The muscles in the shoulder are part of the rowing machine muscle groups which get an excellent workout from rowing. Shoulder muscles are being worked whenever your arms are elevated in front of your body. The natural position for rowing is of course with your arms in front of you and raised throughout the rowing action. A great workout for your shoulders.


Your core is central to most of life’s activities. Have a strong core (upper & lower abs, lower back muscles & oblique’s) and your body becomes more resistant to exercise injury and performance increases. The core gets a very good workout from this exercise and as it gets stronger you should find your rowing becomes more natural and your body will be kept in good alignment.


Your Quads are worked when you are pushing away from the rower and your legs are beginning to straighten. These major muscles are at the front of your thighs. Also known as the extensor muscles and closely linked with good knee function.

Gluteus Maximus

You sit on your glutes and these are worked hard during a row. They take a major role in the workout when your knees go from the bent position to when your legs are at their straightest.

The ‘Life’ Muscles

We can’t forget the effect that rowing has on two of your major organs, the heart & lungs. Rowing is often described as one of the most efficient forms of aerobic exercise. These two ‘muscles’ receive probably the best workout of all and without all the worries of excessive impact on the body’s joints.

So what major muscles aren’t worked by rowing?

None! A balanced a natural rowing workout makes use of all the major muscle groups. Some muscles are of course worked harder than others but rowing by itself is a very efficient and effective form of exercise.

Rowing Machine Muscle Groups: Summary

So all the major muscle groups are worked by rowing and by itself, it is one of the most effective exercise types around. You could of course take your routine a step further and introduce other exercise into the mix. Swimming & cycling both complement rowing superbly and a varied set of light weights after stretching and before the row, works wonders.

Just remember to listen to your body, the ‘no pain, no gain’ train of thought is a bit old now! If something hurts during your routine, make sure you’re stretching before exercise, your posture is good and you’re not getting carried away and overdoing it (personal experience!).

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