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CrossFit Rowing Workouts: Why Does CrossFit Use Rowing Machines?

CrossFit training has reached insurmountable heights in recent years, and you could not find a fitness freak who hasn’t tried doing it.

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

Unlike a traditional gym where you see every kind of equipment right from the treadmill and elliptical to a climber and any other cardio equipment but a rower (in most cases), CrossFit training makes use of rower rather than stacking all these equipment.

But why? That’s what I would be explaining below.

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.

Rowing is a zero-impact cardio workout that surprises you with its intensive training abilities. This being said, rowers facilitate individuals from all age groups and even those recovering from an injury to work out safely and comfortably on the rower.

Rowing is one of the most functional total body workouts, where all your large muscle groups are put through a lot 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.

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?

A better question would have been whether or not there is any muscle in the body that’s not activated while rowing.

Being a full-body exercise rowing includes almost every major muscle group in the body, including the lats, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, the 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. If you want stats, I feel good to tell you that almost 85% of all muscles are involved during any rowing session (source).

As most of the integral muscle groups are involved while working out, you must know that your heart rate would also show elevated numbers.

This helps you reach your target heart rate, thereby helping you feel fulfilled and the contentment of having performed an optimal workout.

We can be sure that rowing could be called 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.

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

Read Also: Top 7 Best Full Body Workout Machines for Your Home

Benefits of Using Rowers for CrossFit Workout

If you are one of those who are still not convinced why CrossFit training makes use of rowers primarily, maybe the benefits listed below would nullify any of your doubts regarding using rowing as the primary exercise machine for CrossFit training.

#1. Rowing Maximizes Calorie Burning

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

You might even ask me whether there is something magical about the rower as your general assumption would be as to how a piece of equipment that you sit down on a moving platform and pull back generate ample benefits.

I would love to elaborate on this point and give you the satisfaction that rowing does burn ample calories as expected.

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

Though exercising on a rowing machine produces sustainable results without hurting the knees, joints, and muscles, I am glad to convey the information that it is a metabolically challenging workout.

Hence, the equipment not only makes it possible for doing low-impact workouts but also puts you in an advantageous position by burning a greater number of calories.

You can use a rower to burn as much as 1000 calories and more per hour. Isn’t that amazing?

By now, each of you who wishes to lose weight would be making super fast calculations to purchase a rower or enroll yourself in CrossFit rowing workout, isn’t it?

However, to achieve greater calorie burning, you also involve a greater number of 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.

If you have decided to purchase any equipment to become fit, I recommend you to go for the rower without any doubt—you achieve a dual benefit of not only achieving whole body workout but also burning far more calories than on an elliptical, going for a walk, or even jogging.

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.

#2. Rowing Improves Strength & Endurance

We all love monotony (at least, most of us) and look forward to something interesting with a twist added to it. Likewise, exercising too could become redundant sometimes and even boring when you keep performing the same workout repeatedly.

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

If you have the slightest doubts, search all Olympic rowers and be satisfied with the positive answers that 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 could 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 Concept2 rower, depending on your needs and specifications.

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.

#3. Low-Impact Exercise

The first question that arises when someone wishes to use a piece of equipment is whether the machine would cause strain to the knees/joints. If you are one of those, I am happy to let you know that rowing is one of the safest cardio exercises.

It is extremely easy on the joints having a negligible impact on your knees and ankles, which is surprising given its high calorie-burning benefits.

Also, most of you could perform on a rower at high endurance levels with utter peace of mind as you don’t have to fear of getting injured on a rower.

Above all, besides having a low impact on the joints, exercising on a rowing machine improves joint health because of the different movements involved while you row that helps move your joints through a large range of motion.

#4. You Cannot Row Without an Equipment

Treadmills, spin bike, 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.

Still, many of us prefer to set up our home gym as we prefer to stay indoors and workout.

Another added benefit here 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.

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 going boating or take up rowing as a regular hobby.

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 make use of a rowing machine.

The primary advantage of using an indoor rower is that it helps you achieve a full-body cardio workout inside the comfort of the indoors. And, you can’t perform all these exercises without the machine.

Read Also: Top 7 Best Rowing Machines for CrossFit – Read Before You Buy

#5. Rowers are Most Affordable & Extremely Performance-Oriented

Setting up a commercial gym is no child’s play and incurs exuberant costs and recurring maintenance charges.

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 exercise models at higher costs.

Also, rowing machines introduced during the initial days were very big and bulky, too (you could even compare this scenario with our good old computers that occupied the entire room).

All these factors made it impossible for the common man 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.

Whereas, the ellipticals, treadmills, spin bikes, weights, and more that are stacked up in every gym are expensive.

Surprisingly, some of them cost even 5-6 times more than the average rower cost.

While buying a single piece of equipment for home use might seem ok when you want to invest in exercise equipment, commercial gyms operate for profit.

The principal cost invested plays a primary role in determining the profits reaped by the business.

As a businessman, if you are supposed to purchase a dozen or more identical equipment for your commercial gym or CrossFit purpose, what would be your choice?

Before you give your answer, let me elaborate on both the rower and other common gym equipment. For a reasonable price, the rower is sure to offer you full-body exercises that are efficient and have a low impact on your body.

Meanwhile, the treadmill occupies devastating spaces in the room, and the climbers cost nothing less than a few thousand dollars for a single machine—you could achieve the same health/fitness benefits by repeating the same exercises outdoors too.

Also, how smart would it be for you to buy one treadmill that costs as much as 5-6 rowers?

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 it.

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

You are all super smart, and I am sure that your unanimous choice would be for the rower and rower alone.

#6. Imparts Excellent Whole-body Cardio Workout

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

Rowers involve all body parts, and I am not talking about the static weighted cable rows. For those of you who don’t know, cable rows only incorporate a small percentage of the muscles involved in a rowing machine.

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.

I would love to reiterate the fact that rowers are far better and high performing compared to any other cardio equipment. The problem here is that rowers aren’t quite popular because of their design, which makes it hard for you to use it initially.

Cardio machines focus on target heart rates, and as I already mentioned, 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 running/sprinting too, these exercises predominantly use your lower body and are not recommended for all age groups.

Can you imagine every elderly person running or doing heavy jogging without injuring themselves? Even if they do it, most of them will succumb to knee-related injuries.

My humble recommendation is to stop exerting yourself this way and bringing about problems to your joints/knees.

Resource: Top 10 Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine

Which Is the Best Rowing Machine for CrossFit?

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

If you want to purchase a rower 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 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 too. 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 too should be for the Concept2 rower.

Read Also: Top 7 Best Rowing Machines for CrossFit – Read Before You Buy

#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 its design.

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 HIIT workout as well as your lone endurance workouts.

Concept2 is ‘the’ machine that satisfies all these requirements. It is extremely sturdy and durable, and the most evident proof of this is the fact 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 too 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. I am glad to tell you that 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 a lot many years, too, all that might happen is that 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 that 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 I guarantee you that you cannot 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 comes with 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, which include a receiver for Polar heart rate monitors, slides to mimic the outside water rowing experience in your indoor rower, and a dynamic link which 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 accessories that are helpful for your rower.

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

Final Thoughts

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

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 you to choose the best one based on your requirements and budget.

I am sure that 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 too and become an indispensable part of your daily life. Take advantage of the benefits available, and stay healthy.