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Will a Rowing Machine Give Me Big Shoulders?

Rowing machines have become much more prevalent in public gyms these days.  Known for their full body workout, rowing machines are built to force your body to go through four distinct motions that use different sets of muscles.  Each stroke you take works more muscles than several other workout machine exercises put together.  So when it comes to questions regarding a specific set of muscles, such as “Will a rowing machine give me big shoulders?” the answer is that if you use proper technique, you’ll get an overall workout that will keep the various parts of your body in proportion.

The Full Body Workout

As touched upon in the introduction, proper use of a rowing machine provides a workout for your entire body.  It’s thought that over 80% of your body’s muscles are engaged when using a rowing machine.  This is a much greater overall workout than you would get on machines such as the elliptical, a stationary bike or a treadmill.  The rowing machine is not designed to bulk up your body, especially your shoulders.  More than half of the energy used on a rowing machine is expended by your legs.  You’ll find yourself getting more of a cardiovascular workout on a rowing machine compared to specifically bulking out your shoulders.

The Cardiovascular Workout

Rowing machines are designed to get you breathing heavy and getting your blood flowing.  Your heart rate will increase and your oxygen intake will correspondingly rise.  With proper technique in place, your stroke will begin in the legs and continue with your back and arms.  You’ll use fast twitch muscle fibres for powerful bursts and slow twitch fibres which are associated with endurance during the course of a rowing machine workout.  Your arms and shoulders will not be singled out as long as you’re employing proper form. 

Low Impact Workout

Rowing machines have become popular because of their full body and cardiovascular workouts without the need for high impact exercises.  The smooth motion of a rowing machine ensures that those who suffer from bones issues, arthritis or joint pain can get in a full workout without exacerbating their injuries.  Since the rowing machine allows you to sit down you end up taking weight off a good portion of your body.

Proper Technique

To ensure that you get a complete body workout and don’t overemphasize a certain muscle group, you’ll need to employ proper technique.  You want to make sure that you’re not just using your arms to complete a stroke.  In fact, arm power should only be 20% of the entire power utilized.  You’ll also want to make sure that your back isn’t hunched at the beginning of each stroke.  Make sure to keep your back in a neutral position, keep your shoulders relaxed and employ your body’s core during the stroke.  Perform each stroke in a smooth and fluid motion and avoid jerking back on the seat.

Now that you know what to expect from using rowing machines, download this month’s promotions to save on your next purchase.