Is the Rowing Machine Really That Great?

– You’re probably here because you’ve recently read an article, a friend told you, your doctor told you that you should consider indoor rowing as an activity to add
into your fitness regimen for one reason or another. Now if you’ve read those articles, they’re generally very short and they just say that rowing
is a full-body exercise and something that you
should use, but why? Is it right for you? Is it the right machine for you to use? Is it the right tool
for you to buy at home and have as a training tool? And that’s the question
we’re hoping to answer today. Is it the right choice for you to insert into your training? And is it really all
it’s cracked up to be? So let’s check it out
and let’s get inside. (heavy upbeat music) (transitions to moderate upbeat music) So ultimately, the goal today is to discover whether
or not indoor rowing is something that’s useful for you and should you be using it,
depending on your circumstances, your fitness level, your finances, all of these things go into play into making a decision
as to whether or not indoor rowing makes sense
for you and should you row. At the end of the day, that ultimately is a very important question to answer, because while it’s great
that Time magazine is saying that you should use the rowing
machine as a training tool, well, that’s not right for everybody, just like all fitness
or all nutrition plans aren’t right for everybody,
there’s no cookie-cutter model for every human being that exists. I wish there was, that would
make my life so much easier and I wish I could say that
rowing was the end-all be-all, but honestly it’s not, but
it is a great activity, so let’s explore some of the
advantages to using the machine and whether or not those fit in to parameters that make sense for you and let’s figure out what
all the excitement’s about. So reason number one and
you hear this all the time, from anybody who’s suggesting it, is that rowing is low
impact and that is true, however, it’s not the only low
impact exercise that exists, but it inherently does
reduce impact on the body. If you can’t run and you can’t jump and you have arthritis and
achy joints, guess what? This is a really fantastic option for you to consider using this machine, because by sitting on the seat and having it be more of a
horizontal force production, you don’t have the same effects of gravity driving you down, while
trying to fight against that, instead we get to work in
this horizontal pattern (moderate fun music)
(spring boings) versus a vertical pattern, so if you’re looking
at this from a checkbox and let’s tick a number of boxes, if that low impact sounds
appealing to you and to your body, frankly, that’s the one
that matters the most, if that sounds appealing,
go ahead and check that box as maybe one reason why you would consider using
the rowing machine. Reason number two, strength, endurance, strength endurance,
endurance-based strength, you can do it all with this machine, that is because of its
resistance adjustment settings. You can really program any type of workout that your heart desires on this thing, whether it’s multiple
20, 10-second sprints that are intended to work on your strength and your ability to handle load and put you under really
aggressive duress, you can do it, because you can take the
resistance up, make it feel heavy and work for very short
sprint periods of time or if you want to simply work
on your base aerobic volume and program long workouts
with low resistance, that are simply meant to make you sweat and improve lung capacity
and your aerobic endurance, you can do that too by programming it exactly as
you want with this machine. And so, therein lies
a lot of value to this and so, if that is a need for you, if you have a desire to put
that into your programming, then guess what? That’s another checkbox
for using indoor rowing as a piece of your exercise routine, as a tool in your toolbox, if you will. Reason number three, this machine is often touted
as a complete workout, meaning a full-body workout. (upbeat music) You often hear this
statistic thrown around, that rowing uses 86% of the body. Honestly, there’s not
much foundation in that, however, because of the way
that the machine is situated, unlike a bike or an elliptical, it doesn’t guide you through the movement, you actually have to learn
how to move on this machine. I’ve coached thousands
of people at this point and I have never seen a single
person get on the machine and do it right the first
time without instruction, it’s a learned movement. So A, don’t feel bad when
you sit down on this machine and you’re not sure what you’re doing, nobody does the first time. And B, it really is complete, because you push with your legs, you’re swinging your hips open, you’re pulling with the arms, you’re pushing with the arms, you’re closing the hips, all of these things
that the body has to do to create work on the machine and the more you focus on the mechanics, the better workout your body gets and so, it behooves you to
pay attention to mechanics, making the workout more complete and making it a more
advantageous, full-body workout. So yes, that one does stack up. No, that percentage of how
much of your body is used, to how many muscles in
your body you’re using. Just say yes, it works a lot of your body, all the important things that need to be strengthened and worked are worked by this machine,
because you use everything. You hold on with your hands,
your feet are strapped in, you’re pushing, you’re pulling, both directions with all
appendages, it’s all happening and it does make for a very
complete, useful workout, so if that works for
you, check that box off. Reason number four and
this one’s pretty simple, it is tried and true. This machine has been around
forever in one form or another. There was a rowing machine on the Titanic, look it up, not lying,
it was in their gym. Different companies have come in and out, have come and gone, concept two’s been around since the 70’s. This machine is useful and effective and trainers and coaches around the world have relied upon this
machine for a long time. Now is that necessarily a fact-point? No, not necessarily, but
it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has if it weren’t useful and if it weren’t effective and if it wasn’t getting put into workouts by people who think about
writing these workouts and the objectives that they want to help their clients achieve. I guess the goal is that the clients state that the coach wants to help
them achieve their own goal, don’t worry, I’m sure
you get me on that one, but the point being, is it useful? Has it tested time? Yes, absolutely, it has
been around for a long time. So if you like having a
little bit of faith in it, because you know that
it’s been around forever and it’s not new and
gimmicky, check that box, because that is for
sure, it ain’t a gimmick. Reason number five and
hear me out on this one, because I’m gonna make
a pretty grand claim, this machine can improve
your entire quality of life. What do I mean by that? Well, because this machine
doesn’t let you get away with just moving mindlessly, you
have to learn how to move, placing your body in the appropriate place at the appropriate time,
using the appropriate muscles, you have to learn this
entire movement path. Now with that, comes you learning more and more about your body, it increases ranges of
motion that you probably haven’t been hitting
in your everyday life, it strengthens muscles that
haven’t been strengthened and it gets your mind
in tune with your body, working together and
that is a huge advantage. That in and of itself is what will improve
quality of life for you, because they’re aren’t enough
opportunities in our life that we are all taking advantage of, that are improving us in that way. So if quality of life improvement,
connecting mind and body is something that seems valuable to you or you’d like to insert, and I know it’s kind of tough to say, No, I’m not really interested in that, but if you’re not, fair,
not my place to tell you, go ahead and add that check as, maybe this is a useful tool for you. So at the end of the day,
the decision is yours. Should I row? Is the rowing machine a
useful tool for me to use? You’re gonna keep seeing
articles about it, people are gonna keep telling
you that you should try it, but ultimately, the decision is up to you and whether or not it’s
valuable in your life. All I care about is
that you have something that makes you move, that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be rowing and if it turns out to be rowing, great. I hope we get to spend
a lot of time together and you hang out and watch our videos, (stomping)
– What? Did we just become best friends? – Yep. – join our community
and all that good stuff, but really, at the end of the day, it’s your decision to make. Should I row? I don’t know, take a look
at these five factors and consider whether or not
these things are useful to you, are useful to your place in life and if it’s the right decision for you. For me, rowing is absolutely a great tool and I think it is for a lot of people, but the decision is really up to you. As always guys, thank you for joining us for another Dark Horse video. I love you Dark Horse community, guys, thank you for tuning in, checking
out what we’ve got to say. Honestly, I love that you guys are trying to pursue something
greater in your own lives and really, at the end of the day, that’s what matters to me, that you are the dark
horse of your own life. So as always, if you enjoyed this video and you wanna be a part of this community, hit that subscribe button
and if you really love it, just really love it, hit that bell, ’cause it’s gonna alert you every time we come out with a new video and as always, we will
see you on the other side. (heavy upbeat music)

95 Replies to “Is the Rowing Machine Really That Great?”

  1. Bad back l5s1 herniated disc. Never had surgery. I deal with it. Don’t like running for that reason, elliptical hurts when resistance is increased, hate sitting on a bike and just sitting and peddling. The Rower is something that I have enjoyed doing without pain and it tones the stomach more than those machines. It’s a machine I know will last 20+ years and a lifestyle change that I need to make since it will last! Dark horse helps achieve that goal! Great video!

  2. I credit the indoor rowing machine and your videos along with TooTall with helping me recover from cancer treatment.

  3. You are the man Shane! I'm glad I stumbled across your channel last year, and have loved being part of your Crew the last couple of months. Rowing has been fantastic, and I'm still planning on getting on the water in the Spring.

  4. I recently bought a rower and am now thinking of getting the skierg. My main goals are weight loss and general health and fitness improvements. Do you think the skierg compliments the rowing machine nicely? Thank you very much!

  5. I’ve been rowing for about 4 years.
    I’ve got Chrons and for the past two years Arthritis. Rowing is great, despite my limitations!
    It is indeed low impact on the joints, but it’s a real workout that is going to leave you breathless and exhausted.
    I can highly recommend the rowing machine on that front.

  6. I am a 55 year old man ,I started rowing in my late forties and I was fat and rowed 5000m every day and now row 3000m five times a week, but I also include weight training as well. Since ive been rowing my weight has dropped and people comment on how I look,i have asthma and rowing has helped with that and I have not needed to see a doctor for quiet a while, so yes I will row every day during the week and have the weekend off, and again I am proud to say that I am a dark horse,and will always be one.

  7. What about rowing when you have diastasis recti issues and/or other core pressure issues? Have you coached any athletes in navigating this?

  8. Thanks for great video!!
    I am in the market for a home rower right now.
    Do you have an opinion on the new Nordictrack RW500.
    Also have you used the Total Gym Elevate Row?

  9. I have a concept 2 rower and I love it! There are a lot of great rowers out there besides the concept 2 but because I am a crossfit athlete I use the concept 2. Great video with a lot of good points!

  10. Haha that quick clip of the guy rowing backwards over his head! I have a Concept 2 at home, but was out of town for Xmas and went in to a 24hr fitness. I jumped on one of the two Concept Rowers they had…it was so worn out and abused, chain would slip during the pull, etc. Then next to me, this guy was pulling, then driving, then lifting the handle way over his head while the chain scraped against the plastic housing, then bending up at a 45 degree angle…so spastic, it was painful to sit next to. It looked like the guy you showed, except not backwards. He was on his phone the whole time too so I resisted the urge to offer him some friendly tips.

    Anyway, I've had a concept 2 since 2000, and used it sporadically and mainly as a 10-minute cool down after 20 min HIIT sessions on my Stairmaster. This past fall, I got on Concept's site and watched all the videos (and realized what I was doing wrong all those years, lol) and started rowing regularly for up to 60 minutes at a time. My new rule was, no Netflix unless I'm on the rower. Combined with dialing in my diet and intermittent fasting, and hitting the weights 2-3 times a week…my weight dropped from 230 to 190, and I haven't looked back since. During that time I discovered your videos and watched most of them…thanks for sharing the knowledge and motivation! What a great machine and overall workout…I wish I had figured it out years ago, but glad I have now.

  11. I love rowing but here's an alternative no one ever talks about: Practice spins and grabs on a tramp board. Rotational resistance can be adjusted by changing stance width as this manipulates angular speed and is near double that of jumping on a trampoline alone on medium. Produces better cardio than rowing, keeps your brain in gear till snowboarding season and is impact free.

  12. very true! I use it daily. I've been boxing, lifting weights,.riding my bike, etc ,but when I started rowing daily I got into much better shape its like a whole new level and it helped me break through the plateau I hit in both boxing and weight training. Not to mention rowing helped me train harder and longer, which in turn helped me loose 65lbs.

  13. I started rowing about 6 months ago and have about 8 friends that are all rowing for PR's and we are all pushing each other to be better. Can't get much better than that! Rowing is an amazing exercise.

  14. Started rowin a 1.5 months ago..plagued with plantar fasciitis, gout etc. By far this machine will flat out work you. Added weight training and a sensible balanced diet and i can already see results

  15. At my new gym they have 2 of these and it looks a lot more fun than the treadmill or bike so I'm going to give it a try. I play a lot of basketball so it's hard on my knees and I want so form of cardio that isn't more stress on them. When I lift weights my back is definitely one of my weakest parts of my body so maybe this will help solve both while being fun.

  16. My rower is: a great antidepressant, a great aerobic workout, an ass kicking workout and makes me more available for life.

  17. Strength is really the concept of "power output." Dynamic is power (distance covered) where "strength" is the ability to hold something in place. Either a muscle fiber twitches (100%) or it does not twitch at all (0%)

  18. It's been just over 11 months since I purchased my Concept 2 Model D rower — the best $900 I've ever spent on exercise equipment. I row 6 days a week/40 minutes continuous and completely "detach" and "zone out" during the workout. I'm 55 years old and have seen dramatic improvement in my heart/lungs as well as the slight muscle mass/definition in my shoulders, biceps, triceps, lower chest, upper/middle abs, hips, glutes, legs, and calves…in fact, I made a promise to stick with this for a full year as my primary exercise workout.

  19. Will be purchasing a rower in the near future, any comments on Water Rowers vs Concept 2? I am leaning toward the water rower, mostly since this thing is going to be in my living room and they look damn good compared to the industrial look of the concept 2. Thanks for all the informational content you put out!

  20. The treadmill has been around longer than the rower. It’s been around since medieval times. It was medieval torture device before it was a piece of gym equipment.

  21. I've owned a rowing machine for fifteen years. I row about an hour everyday. How many meters? Frig if I know, the replacement computer is to expensive to replace. I just wore out the small gear on the fly wheel, and I'm using the larger gear. How much will that cost to replace? I don't think I've lost an ounce, but everyone my age decrepit old farts walking aroung stiff legged, with super fat guts. When I started rowing, my knees screamed everytime I stood up from crouch, now my knees are fine. I had a heart defect that was killing me, but I forced myself to row everyday anyways. When I finanly let the doctors hack at me, the doctors were all nice to me. I asked why? They said I was one of the few people who fought not to die from my heart problem. Most people stuff junk down their throat, and cry like stuck hogs because they don't get eat ten pounds of meat everyday.

  22. I started rowing after I injured my foot running sprints. It is now my favorite piece of equipment for cardio.

  23. I’d like to add my 5 cents to this, I agree with all you say, it’s my favourite piece of gym equipment, the VERY best thing you can do is to buy the very best one you can afford, the cheapies are junk.

  24. Rehabbing my knee replacement on the rower along with other exercises. It is the best machine I have ever owned. Thanks for the great videos. They have helped a lot.

  25. One aspect that I get from rowing is "mental confidence". Not an English speaker so lets see if I can explain it. Basically it comes down to I have tried many different sports, was pretty high amateur level long distance runner at one point for example, the mental side to rowing have been a different experience for me.

    I find I can push my mental limits more doing rowing. Press myself harder for longer than I thought I could, really torturing myself. Experiencing more pain and struggle than in my previous sports. Obviously it feels like hell when you are doing it but afterwards I love the feeling. It's silly maybe but after a tough rowing session I feel proud of myself, I feel like I am mentally tough, that I experienced a type of mental struggle few people do. It's a big confidence booster.

    The type of rowing I like to do is around 40 min with rising intensity. It's always the same mental battle. After 15 min or so I am starting to think "How the hell am I going to keep increasing the tempo? Do I feel worse today? Did I feel like this last time? No way I am going to make it to 40 min". However every time I do hit that 40 min mark and even going full out last 5 min. I haven't experienced this kind of struggle in previous sports. With running for example I could just go out and run for 2 hours on autopilot without any struggle at all when I was at my best. Rowing however the struggle starts pretty quickly but you can keep pushing through it. Be in pain for long duration without stopping. Feels like sprinting almost, something you can't keep up in running for long periods of time.

  26. Take my advice: Buy the Waterrower. I did, and love the rushing wave sound and the feel of the whole machine. I HATE the look and chain noice of other machines. The Waterrower looks amazing sitting in my home gym.

  27. I fully agree with number 5 quality of life! I am using the machine at home now since 2002 and feel still great exercising 6 days a week at the age of 70! I am now considering to buy a bikerg as well to have more endurance workout next to the rowing. A tip: as a private person I had my Concept2 rowing machine serviced last year and it is working perfectly again! So costs per year are really very low, even in the Netherlands….

  28. So, to save everyone 9+ minutes, rowing is really good for you if you want to try it. This would have been a nice video if it was 2 or 3 minutes long. At 9:58 I had to skip ahead several times to avoid stopping it completely. I've had my Concept 2 for a few years and it's great, so I am definitely pro-rowing.

  29. I row 75000m/ 100,000m a week, I’ve lost 15kgs and I’m fitter now than I’ve been all of my life. So, it works for me

  30. The rowing doesn't seem to really do the triceps or biceps. I get the feeling it's mostly legs, the back and shoulders. Has anyone tried any of the water rowing machines? I'm not into the fan blowing or a bicycle type of chain. The water rowing machines seem much quieter too. Also, there's nothing nicer than being outdoors doing the real thing and actually getting somewhere on a bay, lake or river. Thanks

  31. used to row around lakes with my dad. Now I want to use the erg to gain greater vo2 max and endurance while losing weight.

  32. I'm looking at the NordicTrack RW900 and the Concept 2..I NEED motivation so the NordicTrack fitness videos that come along with the screen are very appealing. However, I want a quality machine and I keep hearing how great the Concept 2 is ..The prices are very different. I would of course like to spend less money but I do want to make sure I have everything I need to keep interest and motivation..that's why the "bells and whistles" make me think I'd prefer the NordictTrack…any opinion?

  33. great video, dhr…… this may be a great exercise to mix in with my cycling, and likely safer than cycling…… unless you can get these bad boy rowing machines out on the open road, dodging those drivers who can't see past their windshield, cell phone, and/or entitlement issues….

  34. dude what is up with that bass in the intro and outro, the volume is so loud compared to your voice lol

  35. Great video and advice, thank you for that. I'm looking to start rowing at home. What's your opinion on Concept 2 vs WaterRower?

  36. I nearly lost it at the Step-Brothers clip. You’re great at explaining all of this. I am starting my exercise regimen in the next month or so and have been dying to get back on the erg. I haven’t touched one since I was rowing in college, but was many lbs ago. Currently 350, and I know rowing will be a huge benefit,; you’re channel is very positive and already has me excited to row again!

  37. I bought Concept2 Model D because of Dark Horse Rowing !! Best investment ever !! Love using it
    The videos are very helpful in teaching the form and I really enjoy the “row along” kind of workouts – I do the Beginners Row workout and I get such a good workout in 20 mins. Thanks so much for the videos 😀

  38. I got a cheapie one off Amazon and using it just a few times a month has fixed my horrible pinched neck/arm nerve pain probably via posture correction.

  39. I have the Concept2 E model. I love my machine.. only thing I hate is at this very moment I have to go to the store for batteries.

  40. I row 90 mins a day during recovery. It's a good low impact aerobic exercise while I heal after my ultra marathons (4 to 6 weeks). It also translates into being a better runner!

  41. hey man sweet video…been in te gym for three years now, legs are the only life i haven't been training…medical reasons…but I have been given the green light to do so, lotta walking so some movement there, but seven days a week i know that's frowned upon, but I am not just in to get the physical, i work most of the lifes mental stresses there, I work hard every time at whatever i put my mind into…check and back, shoulders, and arms are my routine on different days on repeat. I would like to add rowing I am after strength gains, but I have put my heart and lungs last and I think rowing is my choice. The one question i did have is, I do listen to music when i workout, I know the mechanics in this machine are key, I am looking for any tips or feedback or links or me being a part of your community sounds awesome! and if I need to cut out music to get the right mechanics cool no problem, here to learn, and I am so excited to work legs into my routine so yeah sorry for the mini-series I appreciate your time. Cheers for now. ps was at 260 in weight lost 30 lbs but put on 30 in muscle.

  42. Great video and very informative. Just starting out and treated myself to the Concept 2 rower. Look forward to seeing more videos and workout.
    I am looking to lose weight (roughly 20kilos) but have been finding impact exercise are causing me problems so hopefully this will help massively.

  43. I bought a model B in 1992, after wearing out a Precour piston rower. Concept 2 is a great investment, heavy duty equipment. Mine still works perfectly, aside from the monitor and a replaced shock cord. Wonderful health benifits (physical and mental)!

  44. Im a 38 year old male. Police officer. I sit in a squad car 12 hours a day.
    1. Rowing
    2. Intermittent fasting
    3. Boiled chicken

  45. I’m 39 years post bariatric surgery looking to firm up my body as I’ve lost over 80lbs so far…considering indoor rowing as my alternative to the gym because I have young kids & don’t have time for the gym…thoughts please?

  46. My husband 6ft 5 he injured his heal he is big through the back has fallen love with rowing but are leg gains possible with daily rowing thank u

  47. I saw rowing on House of Cards and it looked like a fun activity that would hit a lot of muscle groups. Most machines have a low footprint when they are stored (either folding or standing straight up) which is good for me living in a small apartment. The issue is that I live in a small town and no gyms close by have a machine I could try out to make sure I will like it….and all the machines seem to be around $500 bucks or more. That's a big risk starting out as far as price when I am not positive that I will like it long term. Here's my question: Should I hedge and get a cheap rowing machine to try out first, then save up for a really good one once i know I will like it and stick with it, or do the cheap ones ruin the experience and might possibly make me not like rowing as much compared to if I had gotten a good entry level model? They have magnetic ones for $170 to my front door on That seems like a fairly safe investment. What do you think?

    Thanks in advance.

  48. Years ago I bought a Concept 2 rower. But after some weeks I give up rowing. My problem is that it bores me endless to sit on that machine indoors and just row stupidly for an half an hour or more. The same on elliptical or bikemachines. I wish I could get better motivation but the time just do not pass when sitting on the machine…
    I wish I could threw the feeling of boredom away. How do you get more excited at rowing?

  49. I've been rowing for about 7 years. I do in between 10,000 and 12,000 meters atleast 5 days a week. I'm 50 and it has definitely kept me trim and fit. You always know it will be free at a gym because no one uses it LOL and there's a reason – its hard! But I love it. My only complaint about it is I get serious sores on my butt./tailbone that really hurt (I use a cushion too).

  50. rowing is one of the most over looked and skipped equipment in the gym.. I've been rowing for over 10 years and my friends have asked how is it I stay so fit and looking like I hardly age..

  51. My thought process when I saw this video in my recommended went like this ("Is the Rowing Machine Really That Great?" from a channel called "Dark Horse Rowing", certainly won't be biased at all!)

    I'm not trying to be hateful, just thought it was a funny thought, and wanted to share. I wanna get into rowing so of course I subbed.

  52. it's the best imo. No knee pain, but just as good of a workout as running. Cardio + strength all in one. People have no problem rowing into their 80s and staying in good shape

  53. the problem with the Rowing Machines is the fact, its as boring a watching paint dry for the user. Saying this, as a long time rower myself, rowing coach, and past St.Catharines Rowing Club Captain. I had one of the very first Concept 2 rowing machines sold. It's a wonderful tool. But, its boring over time.
    Now, its developed a great deal to link Machine to another Machine. You can, online, train against another person or persons globally in real time. You can race or train with people " just like yourself " in weight, age, newby, long time racer. The machine is good, combining Rowpro with the machine is excellent.
    Myself, as a coach. I had a number of hockey players who had knee injuries. I could train these young men without running hard impact jogging irritating knee injury situations. When you combine multiple machines together, look out! the competitiveness of racing put up on screens is amazing. Machine against Machine, with little tiny boats racing across the screen showing rate of pulling per minute, position per 500 meters of travel. So you can see tactics, power, position of grouping. 
    yes, when alone, its as boring as hell. But, link together two or more or these machines, using Rowpro as your App, and fun breaks out massively for all.

  54. I’ve had a Concept 2 rowing machine for 20+ years and it is a fantastic piece of equipment.
    Best exercise equipment ever. Do 5,000 meters a day and you will over time be in fantastic shape.
    It also burns a ton of calories so you can pretty much eat whatever you want and not gain weight.

  55. My rower, which I was introduced to at my CrossFit box, has replaced my daily running regimen. Much less impact on ankles, knees, and feet. And my cardio is through the roof. It has also helped tremendously with my road cycling, especially climbing. It is the last part of my daily workout, after calisthenics and weights. Long rows are great, but so are sprint intervals.

  56. I now do most of my cardio exclusively with low impact methods.

    The row machine is great for when my legs are dead from the airbike or super inclined treadmill. Imo if there's no reason to wear out your joints, why do it?

    I think the row machine is also helpful for people with muscle imbalance, it helps develop your back strength while also getting cardio in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *