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Rowing Everyday: Good or Bad Idea? 

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Last Updated on:

November 4, 2022
a man rowing every day on his rowing machine

Rowing is an excellent form of cardio and muscular exercise. But is rowing everyday a good idea or a bit too much? 

If you’re entering a cut, or you want to build muscle while you’re doing cardio, rowing workouts are one of the best you can choose. But like with everything, overtraining is always a possibility. 

So how do you know if you can row comfortably everyday or if you should ease off and do it a few times a week? Keep reading to find out more info! 

Can You Row Everyday? 

The short answer is yes, you can. But the more important question is… Should you row everyday? And the answer to this depends on two things: your fitness goals behind wanting to row everyday and your fitness level. 

These two factors can make a big difference to whether or not you should get on the rowing machine every day. For example, if you’re a complete beginner at rowing, then it’s highly likely that your fitness isn’t quite all there to be able to get in a rowing workout every single day

On the other hand, if you have dreams and ambitions to take part in the Henley Royal Regatta, and the fitness level to match… Well, then rowing everyday sounds quite reasonable. 

To get a good idea of where you stand on this scale, let’s delve into some of the things your body goes through when you row. 

What Happens To the Body When You Row? 

Whether you’re rowing everyday or every other day, you can expect to see and feel noticeable changes in your body. Here’s what happens when you use the rowing machine: 

Muscular Effect 

Although rowing is known as a form of cardio, it’s actually a serious muscular workout that activates almost the entire body. In fact, science tells us that it works an astounding 9 major muscle groups, which make up roughly 86% of the body’s muscles! If ever there was a full-body, cardio and muscle-building workout, this is it. 

If you’ve ever watched someone rowing in the gym, it looks like it’s all about pushing with the legs. But while the lower body is definitely working, so is the upper body, back, and core. Each section of the rowing movement works different muscles

The “drive” is a fluid motion that gets you from the starting position—seat forward, knees bent, arms extended—to the “finish”, the position furthest back from the starting position. Following that, the “recovery” phase gets you back to the starting position. Each one works different muscles. 

  • Drive: Hamstrings, glutes, quads, shoulders, biceps, abs, upper & lower back. 
  • Finish: All abdominal muscles, biceps, lats. 
  • Recovery: Triceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves. 

It’s mainly leg muscle activation, but about 30% core and 10% arms. If you really want the hamstring and glute action, make sure you’re hinging like you would do in a Romanian deadlift! 

Cardiovascular Effect 

As well as being fantastic for your muscles, rowing is a great cardiovascular workout. Studies show that rowing is better for your cardiovascular health than cycling! Obviously, the extent to which this is true depends on your intensity, your fitness level, and the amount of resistance you row with. 

But between the muscular activation and the cardiovascular benefits of using a rower, you can expect a great fat-burning and muscle-building workout that’s also good for your heart health! Sounds like a win-win-win situation! 

Pros & Cons of Rowing Everyday 

Wondering if rowing everyday is for you or not? Here are some pros and cons that may help you to make up your mind. 

Pros 

Excellent Full-Body & Cardio Workout 

One of the best things about rowing is that it’s an effective workout for almost every muscle in the body, as we mentioned above. And the more muscles you activate during a workout, the more calories you burn, which is a huge bonus if your aim is to strip fat fast. 

If you’re short on time and can only do cardio on a day, there’s no need to worry about ruining your gains! Ever seen rowers’ shoulders? This aerobic exercise also boosts muscle growth, so it’s an excellent choice if you can only fit one quick workout in for the day. 

Low Risk of Injury In Comparison to Other Machines 

The rowing machine is low-impact, which keeps your joints safer than they would be on the treadmill or the road. There are other forms of low-impact cardio—cycling, swimming, and elliptical are a few—but none of them offer quite the benefits that rowing does

Of course, you’ll only get the benefit of being safe from injury if you row with proper technique. But if you’re doing it right and doing it everyday, you’ll be less susceptible to injury than you would be on other cardio machines. 

Can Improve Your Posture 

One of the keys to efficient workouts on the rowing machine is to get your form right. When you’re activating the right muscle and positioning yourself properly, you’ll be strengthening the muscles associated with your posture. 

Actively practicing proper posture means you’ll also be more inclined to maintain this posture when you’re off the rowing machine. 

Cons 

May Lead to Overtraining 

Although the effectiveness of training on the rowing machine is unparalleled, rowing everyday can quite easily lead to overtraining. It’s a heck of a workout, although obviously you can lower the intensity of your workout at any point to give yourself a bit of a break. 

It may be unrealistic to expect to get intense daily exercise on the rower. However, if you want to alternate between intense and easy days, you’re less likely to overtrain. Of course, when you’re on the rower and you have plenty of energy, it can be hard to tone down your intensity of exercise! 

Can Get Monotonous 

There’s not a whole lot of variation when it comes to this piece of gym equipment. There’s only one real way to do it properly, only one direction the machine moves, and most rowing machines don’t come standard with a watchable screen or music capabilities. 

If you struggle with boredom, the motion of rowing could become quite monotonous. You may want to strap your phone to your arm and put some good tunes in your ears to prevent boredom over the repetitive movement! 

Proper Form Can Be Tricky 

This may be the biggest con of using the rower. If you get your technique wrong, you may be prone to injury, and it may take some time to get into good form habits if you’ve never rowed before. 

Unfortunately, if you get this wrong it can diminish the quality of your workout and increase your risk of getting hurt. And when your muscles begin to fatigue, it can be easy to let your form slip without even noticing. 

Tips to Build a Daily Rowing Habit 

Determined to row everyday? Here are our top tips to help you get it right. 

Start Slow 

Going all in may be too much. Unless you’ve been rowing consistently until this point, you should start slowing and easily. Rowing everyday is all right if you choose a lower intensity workout pace and a shorter duration. 

In the beginning, you may only be able to go for 10 minutes per day. This is more than enough to start with! Getting in 10 minutes of rowing every day means you’ll be working your muscles and burning calories, so even if you’re doing it at a low intensity, you’re ahead of most others who aren’t exercising daily. 

You can build up in both intensity and duration as your fitness level improves. Do what you can each day, but make sure not to overdo it. 

Nail Down Your Goals 

What are your goals for rowing? Weight loss, sports performance, cardiovascular improvement, or muscle building? Maybe a combination of all 4! It’s a good idea to figure out what your main goal is from rowing so you can figure out an effective daily rowing workout routine. 

Get Your Form Right 

Rowing with proper technique is invaluable. Whether you’re a new rower or you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s worth doing a form check to make sure you aren’t an accident waiting to happen! 

You can check YouTube for form videos, and it’s a good idea to video yourself rowing so you can compare. Alternatively, ask a personal trainer to help you do it right. Remember, this is something you need to keep in mind constantly, every time you get on the machine. 

You should also do a form check every few weeks or months to make sure you aren’t slipping up. Don’t neglect this! It could make the difference between results and pain. 

Prioritize Recovery 

While we recommend having a rest day between workout days a few times per week, if you’re smart about how you train, you can row everyday without overdoing it. 

It’s a good idea to alternate between light days and hard days. This means that even when you aren’t going hard, you’ll be able to get your muscles moving, burn some calories, and continue to build a habit

But you still need to pay attention to recovery, even if you don’t have rest days. You might want to experiment with some recovery tools and find what works for you. 

  • Foam rolling sore muscles 
  • Compression socks, tights, and sleeves 
  • Massage guns to ease muscle tension 
  • Ice baths or ice packs post-workout 

Whatever recovery measures you take should be paired with proper hydration and a healthy, calorie-controlled diet according to your goals

Mix It Up 

One of the best ways to build a daily rowing habit is to mix up how you row. Try longer durations of steady-state rowing, alternating with shorter high-intensity workouts on the following day. 

Not only does this help to prevent overtraining, but it also helps to reduce boredom! We advise not trying more than two high-intensity days in a row, because that could be a ticket to exhaustion and injury. 

Who Shouldn’t Be Rowing Everyday? 

People with lower back issues should avoid the rowing machine. Any slight mishap or slip in form could leave you at risk of further damage to your back, so it’s not worth rowing if you’ve already got back problems. The elliptical is a great choice for those with back pain. 

Beginners in fitness would also do better to have a rest day here and there rather than rowing everyday. This will go a long way towards preventing overtraining and injury

Final Thoughts: Can I Row Everyday? 

You can. But depending on your goals and your fitness, it might not be the best choice for you. We advise considering your own fitness level, learning proper rowing technique, and setting a smart training program in place if you want to get on the rowing machine daily. 

About Shanna Powell