Homegymmag.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

CrossFit Rowing Workouts: Why Does CrossFit Use Rowing Machines?

CrossFit is a program designed to reap benefits for every type of user, from beginners to advanced trainers. The main advantage of CrossFit training is that you can incorporate it into your daily lifestyle to achieve any goal—from weight loss to improved fitness levels.

CrossFit training has reached insurmountable heights in recent years, and you can not find a fitness freak who hasn’t tried doing it. But have you ever thought about it, ”Why does CrossFit use a rower rather than stacking other fitness equipment such as treadmill, elliptical, vertical climber, and any other cardio equipment?”

There are few reasons for that, and I am going to tell you more about this in this article.

Why Does CrossFit Use Rowing Machines?

CrossFit workouts rely on imparting high-intensity functional movements to improve cardiovascular strength and overall physical strength. If you wonder why CrossFit utilizes the rower rather than any other equipment for its training purpose, I would like to tell you that there are not one or two but many reasons for the same.

#1. Rowing Provides Low-Impact Cardio Workouts

Rowing has a low impact on your knees and ankles, which is surprising given its high calorie-burning benefits. Besides this,  exercising on a rowing machine improves joint health because of the different movements that help move your joints through a large range of motion.

Exercising on the rower gives you the ability to balance your regular pushing, lifting, and pressing movements involved in CrossFit exercises done using burpees, deadlifts, and other lifts.

Above all, rowing is an intense exercise that’s most efficient, helping you achieve superb results in a short time.

This type of training is most suitable for those who lack ample time but require rapid results.

Rather than quoting that CrossFit has become extremely popular among fitness lovers, it should be only appropriate to quote that CrossFit has rather become a lifestyle choice for individuals who love to stay fit.

#2. CrossFit Rowing Maximizes Calorie Burning

Rowing is an exercise you perform in a sitting position, which might raise questions regarding its efficiency in calorie burning.

You might wonder if there is something magical about the rower, as your general assumption would be how a piece of equipment you sit down on a moving platform and pull back generates ample benefits.

I would love to elaborate on this point and give you the satisfaction that the rowing machine makes it possible to do low-impact workouts and puts you in an advantageous position by burning a greater number of calories.

How many of you know the total number of calories burned per hour working out on a rowing machine?

Exercising on a rowing machine produces sustainable results without hurting the knees, joints, and muscles, and you can use a rower to burn as much as 1000 calories and more per hour. Isn’t that amazing?

To achieve greater calorie burning, you also involve many muscles that work together in harmony to perform each rowing action. Whereas, if you are working out on an elliptical, you must invest double the efforts but, sadly, would be bringing about greater benefits on your lower body only.

Sometimes, you could even push yourself too much and end up injuring your body.

So with a rowing machine, you achieve a dual benefit of achieving a whole body workout and burning far more calories than on an elliptical.

We all know that it is wiser to pick a workout that guarantees overall benefits for the entire body during your exercise time rather than simply your upper/lower body alone.

This way, you are guaranteed the same calorie-burning effect in lesser time or even higher calorie-burning capacity (up to 2 times higher) in the given time.

So, once you’ve made your mind to go with the rower, the next step is to focus on HIIT training to burn as much fat as possible. Rather than HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), I recommend doing High-intensity training.

HIIT might sound scary for those new to fitness or those with joint/knee problems.

But unlike running or other such exercises, performing HIIT on your rowing machine exerts maximum challenge to your stamina, keeping your joints/knee safe from pressure/injury.

Besides calorie burning, rowing as an exercise also promotes your metabolism and poses challenges to your body in every way possible, keeping the fitness routine interesting and effective.

#3. Imparts Excellent Whole-Body Cardio Workout

The primary advantage of using an indoor rower for CrossFit is that it helps you achieve a full-body cardio workout inside the comfort of the indoors.

If you imagine, you can always visualize your upper body moving back and forth while rowing your boat on the water. This makes many people falsely assume that rowers are exercise equipment that focuses primarily on your upper body.

And the common misconception about a rower’s upper body productivity makes many people falsely assume that rowers are not as good as some other cardio equipment.

But the truth is that the rowers are far better and high-performing compared to any other cardio equipment.

Rowing is one of the most functional total body workouts, where all your large muscle groups are put through a lot of motion. Also, most of you can perform on a rower at high endurance levels with utter peace of mind as you don’t have to fear getting injured on a rower.

The problem here is that rowers aren’t quite popular because of their design, making it hard for you to use them initially.

Cardio machines focus on target heart rates, and rowers fascinate you with their ease of achieving your desired target heart rate and help you stay at it for an extended time.

If you want to compare a rower with a treadmill or a spinning bike, these exercise machines predominantly use your lower body.

#4. Rowing Improves Strength & Endurance

We don’t love monotony (at least, most of us) and look forward to something interesting with a twist added to it. Likewise, exercising can also become redundant sometimes and even boring when repeatedly performing the same workout.

But in the case of rowing, there are the least chances for such occurrences. Don’t ever fret out whether the equipment might be of no use once your endurance and strength level increase.

If you have the slightest doubts, search all Olympic rowers and be satisfied with the positive answers you get from the images.

You will realize that rowing helps you build an athletic body (which should be inspiring if you love a muscular physique), get rid of unwanted body fat, and achieve an overall trimmed physique.

You get to choose what you want to do with the equipment. Are you looking for a simple workout routine or trying to incorporate challenges that keep your adrenaline levels pumped up?

Depending on that, rowing can be the simplest or the most challenging exercise—just increase resistance and make your workout routine challenging by rowing rapidly/faster.

Many rowers also have controls that help to increase/decrease resistance levels as per your requirements.

Choose any type of rower, water rower, magnetic rower, or air resistance rower, depending on your needs and preference.

One advantage here is that whatever rower you might choose to exercise on, you can enjoy greater resistance levels by pulling harder.

Try attaining maximum benefits in terms of improved cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall strength by pushing your limits and outdoing yourself every time you use the equipment.

#5. You Cannot Row Without an Equipment

Treadmills, spin bikes, and stair climbers are beneficial but are not indispensable to your fitness requirements as these equipment mimics your running, jogging, walking, cycling, and climbing routines.

You’ve got plenty of chances to use the lush parks to walk, the big hills to climb, and your outdoors to run, jog, or cycle enjoying nature’s beauty.

This way, you even get to enjoy the vitamin D benefits offered by the bright sunshine or improve your mood, as proved by different research results on bonding outside with nature.

Whereas, how do we obtain the benefits of a rower? Most of us don’t own a lakeside apartment that gives us the luxury of boating or taking up rowing as a regular hobby. You can’t perform all these rowing exercises without the rower.

So, if your interest lies in reaping the benefits of the different movements a rower has to offer you, you have no other choice but to use a rowing machine.

Another added benefit of using a rowing machine for CrossFit is that you don’t get to skip on your workout schedules any day of the year, quoting reasons such as unsuitable weather, crowded gyms, improper work timings, or unavailability of time.

#6. Rowers Are Most Affordable & Extremely Performance-Oriented

Earlier, rowing machines were manufactured at insurmountable prices and almost emptied your pockets if you wanted to purchase one. This is not something new and has been commonly observed across the world.

Called the ‘new product’ syndrome, manufacturers always introduce new rowing machine models at higher costs.

Also, rowing machines introduced during the initial years were massive and bulky, too (you can compare this scenario with our good old computers that occupied the entire room).

All these factors made it impossible for the common person to even think about getting a rower installed.

Things have taken a U-turn now, for the better. A commercial-grade, premium-grade rowing machine that guarantees durability and performance for a lifetime is available at an affordable cost (under $1000). But you can not get a commercial-grade treadmill, elliptica0l, or spinning bike at this price.

In terms of maintenance, too, rowers are not a bad choice helping you keep them durable and fully functional when you take simple steps to care for them.

Rowers also have a comparatively lesser number of moving parts than treadmills reducing your chances of shelling more money on replacing worn-out parts.

Tons of people worldwide are passionate about CrossFit training, and there are thousands of places that provide professional CrossFit coaching.

If you have visited any of them, it should be no surprise to you that they all have rowing machines installed in their workout space.

Now, along with the knowledge that CrossFit training incorporates rowers, you are also aware of the reason behind why they favor this equipment.

What Muscles Does a Rowing Machine Work?

Rowing is one of the most effective exercises compared to running or spinning as these workouts mostly make use of the lower body only.

Whereas the rower makes equal use of both the upper and lower body, making them work in perfect coordination for achieving the desired workout.

The rowing machine is a full-body exercise machine. It includes almost every major muscle group in the body, including the lats, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, lower back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps (source).

Rowing doesn’t leave behind any muscle group and exerts equal focus on your upper body, lower body, core, and arms. It targets almost 85% of all muscles are involved during any rowing session (source).

Most of the integral muscle groups are involved while working out, helping you reach your target heart rate, thereby helping you feel fulfilled and the contentment of having performed an optimal workout.

In a rower, you are forced to use your hands and legs, while in ellipticals and cycles, you can choose to ignore using your hands while exercising.

Which Is the Best Rowing Machine for CrossFit?

As rowers are one of the best exercise equipment presently, dozens of brands and manufacturers are fighting out there to establish their supremacy.

If you want to purchase a rower for CrossFit and try searching for it in Google, it’s no surprise that you get an exhaustive list that could perplex you on which one to buy.

After much comparisons, cross-examinations, and critical reviews, it has been proved without a doubt that the Concept2 rower is the most prominently used CrossFit rowing machine.

How many times have you seen anything other than the Concept 2 rower at a commercial gym, offered by fitness retailers for sale, or even purchased by home gym users in their garage gym setting?

This proves that the Concept2 rower is the best rowing machine for CrossFit purposes. But why is this monopolization of Concept2 rowers over other rowing machine models?

I’ve listed down several reasons that prove without doubt why your vote should also be for the Concept2 rower.

#1. Unmatched Design & Superb Functionality

Commercial gyms and fitness places rely on repeated membership renewals, but beyond this, they mainly depend on their equipment’s durability. The main reason why Concept2 rowers are popular among CrossFit users is because of their design and durability.

Gym equipment generally is subject to repeated stress and strains. In that case, you would surely prefer a piece of equipment that withstands both your strenuous CrossFit workout as well as your lone endurance workouts.

Concept2 is ‘the’ machine that satisfies all these requirements. It is an extremely sturdy and durable rowing machine, and the most evident proof of this is that the Concept2 rowers are installed in most commercial gyms.

The manufacturer has diligently designed every part with utmost care and minute detailing. Hence, you can be sure that the wearable parts also last a long, long time despite repetitive use.

Any equipment is bound to suffer from repeated wear and tear, but its long-lastingness depends on the quality of its parts, frame, and construction. At no point does a Concept2 rower succumb to breakage, unlike any cheap/low-quality rowers.

If you are using the rowing machine day in and day out every day of the year for many years, all that might happen is you would be required to replace a bearing or some other wearable part.

This should not be of any problem as all these parts are available readily with the manufacturer at any time that you require.

Besides this, you have a concrete warranty period on every model of Concept2 rower you purchase, which covers many of your requirements.

#2. Cost

For a commercial rower, the benefit of purchasing a piece of equipment below $1000 is a great feat.

The Concept2 Model D rower assures you of affordable pricing, and you can’t find any commercial-grade cardio equipment even closely matching this price.

Most cardio equipment is priced way about the rower that even the upgraded model of the Concept2 rower with the PM4 Performance Monitor is only one-fifth of their cost.

So, you not only get to enjoy the health perks of exercising on a rower but also get to see your everyday performance metrics and feel joyous about your goal-related improvements.

#3. Performance Monitors

Each of us loves to know how much we have exercised and the related benefits. These statistics are a reference point from which we can improve our goals, performance, and reach better results.

Rowers boast of excellent full-body workouts, but they have nothing much to offer beyond this in terms of looks, specifications, or accessories. For instance, you cannot find many rowers that come with an uber-cool monitor display.

The benefits and working of the Performance Monitor make Concept2 generally more popular compared to other rowers.

You might skip upgrading your equipment to the PM5 and decide to stick with your PM4’s functionality (probably due to budget restrictions). Still, you find yourself happy and content with the features provided by Concept2’s PM4.

Besides the usual metrics that include total calories burned and distance covered, you also get to enjoy the games, races, and workout logging/tracking ability.

Even more, if you don’t update even to your PM4 and feel happy with the PM3 display, you get to enjoy a lot more features than that offered in other rowers.

This is a big advantage because most rowers don’t even come with a basic display provision, and you are forced to keep rowing until you feel that you have done enough.

#4. Accessories

Accessories make us love some equipment over others apart from the machine’s specifications.

Concept 2 offers several interesting accessories that help promote a successful workout, including a receiver for Polar heart rate monitors, slides to mimic the outside water rowing experience in your indoor rower, and a dynamic link that helps you participate in team rowing.

The PM4/PM5 provisioning helps you contest between different machines making it interesting.

The company has also provided floor mats, chain oil, phone cradles, equipment covers, and other helpful accessories for your rower.

These accessories improve the rower’s functionality and keep you fulfilled after having performed a great workout.

Final Thoughts

The world is always filled with plenty of options on what exercise equipment you can buy and where to buy it.

You might be a CrossFit beginner or pro, but one thing is crystal clear—rowing is an excellent way to reap maximum workout benefits. It is a piece of versatile cardio equipment that helps you achieve a well-chiseled physique.

Rowers improve your endurance, which becomes of great aid in performing rigorous activities for a prolonged time.

There are many cardio workout machines in the market out there, but I recommend choosing the best one based on your requirements and budget.

You are sure to be swayed away by CrossFit rowing workout and Concept2’s monopolization of the CrossFit world.

Being a regular part of many people’s lifestyles, CrossFit is sure to impress you and become an indispensable part of your daily life. Take advantage of the benefits available, and stay healthy.

Read Also:

Pin It on Pinterest