Does Rowing or Rowing Machine Build Biceps, Chest, And Leg Muscles?

Does Rowing or Rowing Machine Build Biceps, Chest, And Leg Muscles

Is it true that Rowing Build Biceps, Chest, And Leg Muscles? What about rowing machines?

Today the world is becoming busier than ever before. That is why 77% of American adults do not do enough exercise. Going to the gym can be tedious and time-consuming. But if you want a one-in-all machine for a full-body workout, then your solution is in this article. 

Rowing is effective for cardiovascular fitness, which can help maintain healthy lungs and heart. One rowing stroke targets nine different groups of muscles. According to the research, these nine muscles groups include 86% of the total body muscle. It’s an excellent option for those who want to build muscles. The beauty of this machine is that it activates the upper body, lower body, and core muscles all at once.

Overview Of Muscles Use In Rowing Machine – An Ultimate Full-Body Workout

Going to the gym can be time-consuming and tedious as well. You have to go around many machines in the gym to get a balanced workout, and sometimes it takes even one hour for a warm-up. So in the busy routine, everyone needs an exercise that offers a full quick body workout in a short time. If you search for a machine that serves all in one full-body workout, then rowing might be for you. It has four phases, The Catch, The Drive, The Finish, The Recovery. 

1. The Catch

It is the start-up stroke of the rowing machine in which the seat is slid forward so you will position close to the front of the device. You have to bend your knees close to the chest by keeping your shins vertical to the ground. 

Muscles That Get Affected By This Movement

  1. Triceps – Your triceps are used in the catch motion to extend your elbows and arms forward to take hold of the handlebar in a standing position. 
  2. Legs – As the shins are in the vertical position, it will compress your glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
  3. Back muscles -During the catch motion, the catch muscles will be activated, especially the latissimus dosri. This vital muscle will control the extension of the arms. On the other hand, the trapezius muscle contains the shoulder blade. Also, it uses rhomboid strength. This muscle sits between your spine and shoulder blades to support the trapezius muscle. 

2. The Drive

The Drive is the next phase of the rowing stroke. Start by pushing your feet from the foot stretchers until your legs are fully extended. You have to engage your core and use the hip hinge so that your body will swing into an upright position. Then you will entertain your arms, shoulder, and back to pull the handlebar back towards your ribcage or sternum. These should complete as one swift fluid motion. 

Muscles That Get Affected By This Movement

  1. Legs – During the drive motion, your leg muscles, specifically glutes and hamstrings, contract during this motion to extend your hips as the upper body slightly leans back into the 45-degree angle. 
  2. Shoulder – Your shoulder muscles contract as your legs drive your body back along the rail. 
  3. Biceps – So once your hands reach towards your knees, your biceps will activate to pull the handlebar towards your lower ribs. 
  4. Abs – Your handlebar pulls close towards your sternum; your abs also contract so that your body will stabilize. 
  5. Back – To stabilize your torso’s upright position, both the lower and upper back muscles will help in this. And this will act as the handlebar is pulled into your lower ribs. 

3. The Finish

It is the third phase of the rowing stroke. It engages your core to help stabilize your body while hinging slightly backward at the hips. Always use that energy to fully extend your legs, bringing the handle towards your sternum. Your upper arms will rotate internally, simulating a rowing motion. 

Muscles Affected By This Movement

  1. Torso – Your torso comprises five muscles: internal abdominal oblique, external abdominal oblique, rectus abdominis, pyramidal, and transverse abdominis. Each muscle that makes the torso will activate in the finish motion to keep your body stable. 
  2. Biceps – In this phase, your biceps muscles are contracted to support and stabilize your back muscles. It will help in rotating your upper arms. 

4. The Recovery

It is the final motion in the rowing stroke. It is the first three steps but in the reverse movement. For starting:

  • Extend your arms out in front of you towards the flywheel by keeping them parallel to the ground. The hinge will forward from your hips and bend your knees by using hamstrings to pull you forward.
  • Keep it going until you will back in the initial “catch” position.
  • Control your motion, especially during this phase, to activate most of the muscle groups.

Muscles That Affected By This Movement

  1. Triceps – The triceps will activate to extend your arms forward during the recovery phase. 
  2. Upper legs and calves – During this phase, the glutes, hamstring, and calves contract during the recovery motion when your seat slides down the rail, back to the starting position. 

In each of the four phases, the motion also utilizes the hands, neck, and chest muscles. So completing just a short rowing stroke means that you activated every major skeletal muscle of your body. 

Rowing Machine Or Treadmill Exercises – Which One Should We Choose?

Treadmill or other exercises such as running essentially accomplishes only two things – work out your cardiovascular system and legs. 

If you compare it with a rowing machine, you will attain all your health goals with only one piece of equipment. In the beginning, you only want to do cardio or aerobic workouts. If you continuously use an indoor rowing machine and then combine it with a proper diet and high-intensity routines, you will lose weight and get healthier, and your muscles will tone over time. 


A rowing machine or powing exercise in open waters is an excellent choice to improve your cardiovascular system and help build lean, solid muscles. An indoor rowing machine is a non-weight-bearing, low-impact machine that is a perfect solution for those who want to exercise but are bound due to joint pain. Rowing is a “perfect exercise” because of its high-intensity workout for various groups of body muscles.