How to use a Rowing Machine and Rower Differences

Female Model Rowing in Home Gym

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by MarcyPro

About a month ago we touched onWhat is Crossfit and What Are The Crossfit Games”. In that blog we touched upon Crossfit Workouts and their benefits. We followed up with Crossfit exercises you could do with minimal equipment and the epic majesty that is a kettlebell. Continuing with the Crossfit Workout theme, we would be remiss not to shine a light on rowing.

Rowing is a comprehensive total body workout focusing on your upper body, lower body, and core muscle groups. More specifically, rowing machine workouts target your Deltoids, Pecs, Biceps Upper Back, Triceps, Glutes, and many more muscles. Rowing utilizes multiple muscle groups at once. As a result, rowing burns calories more efficiently than most cardio workouts can; unlike stationary bikes, which target only your lower body.

How to use a Rowing Machine

Using a rower looks simple, but it is fairly complicated. Your starting position will be sitting upright on the seat with your knees bent. Extend your arms and grab the handle with an overhand grip while still sitting upright (this is known as “the catch” of the starting position.)

Push off the footplate using your leg muscles (the seat will cause you to move away from the front of the unit, known as “the drive.”) Once your legs are extended completely, lean your body slightly back. Pull the handle back towards your stomach which will bring your elbows behind you as you complete the row.

To return to the starting position, extend your arms away from your chest. Next, bend your knees to slide back to the front of the unit. Immediately begin the next row stroke and you’ll get into a consistent stroke rate groove.

Even with this short description of how to row, there are still a few things to keep in mind. Before taking on this new challenge, check out this blog on common rowing workout mistakes to properly row.

Model using the Marcy Turbine Air Rower NS-6050RE

Add a rower to your workout of the day by replacing your bike ride or jog. If you have time, add the workout to your regiment overall, the more you can handle, the more you should do!

Add a 250 meter row to your daily workout. As you progress, work your way up until you are comfortable with 500 meters – 1000 meters in a sitting. Once you’re comfortable with 1000 meters in a sitting, begin timing yourself and working to beat your previous time.

Another popular way to track progress is to use a performance monitor, such as a pulse monitor. Many pulse monitors are sold in the form of a chest strap or wrist strap to wear while you workout. Depending on your health, you can use a pulse monitor / heart rate monitor to reach your target heart rate zone. 80% of your maximum heart rate zone is the optimal target heart rate zone to maximize workout efficiency.

At 80% Now you know the benefits of using an indoor rowing machine. Here is a quick breakdown of the differences between the resistance types of indoor rowers.

Now you know the benefits of using an indoor rowing machine. Here is a quick breakdown of the differences between the resistance types of indoor rowers.

Magnetic Rowing Machine

Magnetic resistance rowers use magnets to create resistance. The resistance levels can be adjusted (usually) by the twist of a knob. Magnetic resistance rowers are generally lighter, quieter, and more cost effective than other forms of rowing machines. These units are ideal for someone who loves working out in their living room / garage, but doesn’t need anything too intense.

Air Rowers

Air resistance rowers use air to create resistance. Since air is pulled in to the unit to create resistance, the harder you workout on an air rower, the stronger the resistance becomes. As a result, those in competitive rowing often prefer air rowers (even over water rowers in some cases.) However, many are not fans of the sound produced by an air rower.

Male Model folding the Marcy Turbine Air Rower | NS-6050RE Foldable Rower

Water Rowers

Water rowers use water to create resistance. Like the air resistance version, the resistance on a water rower increases the harder the user rows. However, unlike the air rower, you can add water to the water rower water tank to adjust resistance as desired.

Most people prefer a water rower because its as close as you can get to a lake rowing experience in your home gym! Though these units create noise, many people enjoy the sound of the water moving in the tank.

Indoor Rowing is one of the best full body cardio exercises no matter which style of rowing machine you use. Row your way to an efficient calorie burn in the comfort of your own garage gym. In addition, a rowing workout is intense, but it pays off in the long run. For example, rowing is good for a bad back because the motion makes your back stronger and will help in preventing future injuries

And, the easy storage brought by Marcy’s foldable rowers are hard to beat! Not feeling rowing but still need home exercise equipment? has a wide range of exercise bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, and more.


  1. Hi there! I’ve just bought this model and am keen to use it though the instructions have me befuddled. There’s a mention of a chest belt transmitter which doesn’t seem to be included for checking one’s pulse and a pulse function on the computer screen but no way for the machine itself to record that data. Which chest belts are compatible and does it have to be a chest belt? is there a lanyard type thing or wrist strap that could be used instead? Cheers in advance!

    1. Hello Gabrielladavalos!

      Thank you for reaching out! The units that are Bluetooth compatible were tested with the Polar line of chest straps.

      For help with your specific model, please reach out to our customer reps at

      Thank you for your interest in Marcy products, have an awesome day!

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