Using A Rowing Machine For Resistance Training

Rowing machine for resistance training featured image

When people ask me about resistance training and what to do my mind takes me to one place. Resistance training without adding weights. The indoor rower is traditional resistance training made better. If you’ve been on the fence about buying an indoor rowing machine because of the lack of understanding, this is the article for you.  

Simplicity is key when it comes to exercising and the indoor rower drives that home. There aren’t too many movements involved which makes for less error on the user end. I know when I first start with something new I either have two left feet or am all thumbs when it comes to the execution. That’s how it all works though with rowing machines, the more you use it the more familiar you become.  

Rowing machines can be used to burn excess fat and build muscle at the same time. Finding new ways to move with tools is my expertise. Also, I tend to think outside the box more often than not. That leads me to begin with reading the directions to the new tool and then figuring out my own way to operate it.  

Have you ever wondered how to gain strength and burn fat at the same time?  

That very mechanism of traditional resistance training made better is the goal here. You’ll get more bang for your buck when it comes to the amount of time invested with rowing workouts. Modifications are key too. Because I’m not sure where you’re at I’ve created a broad yet specific range of movements, reps, and intensities

Knowing your movement patterns and combining them with the correct amount of intensity helps with consistency. Because we’ve all went too hard too fast and ended up on the couch feeling like a dried-up lump of clay. Exercise, especially with a rowing machine, can make life more fun with the ability to navigate through it with confidence.  

Building strength and burning fat at the same time come easily using a rowing machine. From the cardio end of things, it’s easy to change your intensity on the fly. On the strength training side, the resistance is in the “ore.” Unlike traditional weights, you’ll know right away if you can do an exercise.  

Let’s expand on the movements. Performing a bicep curl with a dumbbell is great. However, knowing when to grab a heavier weight can be confusing. Pain is the body’s way of providing biofeedback. Meaning, pain is a good way to gauge readiness and intensity. With the indoor rower, there is no confusion because the bicep curl can be performed. All you need to do is pull harder for more intensity or pull softer for less intensity. 

The intensity isn’t the secret sauce to a healthy lifestyle. Before you go and splurge on some fancy machine or personal training package, decide to commit. Consistency is what everyone I’ve ever worked with has struggled the most with. Get into what works for you and do more of that. The best way to find out what works for you is to try all modalities of exercise.  

A rowing machine is a great tool to assist in a healthy lifestyle. Start with a warm-up. Generally, 100 meters is a great way to warm-up your body. Each workout with an indoor rower can touch each system. From the cardiovascular system, circulatory system, to the musculoskeletal system. The versatility is incredible. When you’re working out, it’s easy to change what you’re doing in an instant.  

So, as you can imagine, there are many advantages to indoor rowing. The only disadvantages are in your own head. I promise you that you’ll spend more time talking yourself out of working out than you will actually working out. Unless you commit to a doable schedule.  

Think of your commitment to oxygen. It’s never-ending. The moment you no longer take in oxygen is the moment your body begins to shut down. That is a very serious commitment not to uphold. Now, take that level of commitment and apply it to your exercise schedule.  

Having that level of commitment will challenge you from time to time. Let’s go back to the commitment to oxygen. When you’re swimming underneath the water you can’t intake fresh oxygen. Only when you come out of the water you can breathe. 

Rowing specific training will help your level of commitment to exercise. It will challenge you like being underwater. However, the ease of use and not having to leave the house is a major advantage. Each time you complete a workout, you’ll be laying another layer of foundational commitment to the powerhouse you call YOU.   

The exercises in this article are all intended to be used with an indoor rower. Even a bicep curl can be performed. Get creative and come up with some moves yourself or stay tuned for more “outside of the box” movements. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to have fun.  

Jed Kobernusz


Jed is a person who believes in hard work! He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in 2008 from NDSU and has been teaching people to move both physically and mentally ever since. He’s opened a gym that helps people believe in THEMSELVES again! Everything he does can be found at