Is Rowing Hard

Rowing is undoubtedly one of the most physically demanding sports out there. Whether you are rowing competitively in a regatta or simply enjoying a leisurely row on a calm lake, rowing requires a tremendous amount of effort and stamina. In this article, we will explore the reasons why rowing is considered hard and the benefits it offers.

The Physical Demands

Rowing engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it a full-body workout. It primarily targets the legs, core, back, and arms, requiring them to work in unison to generate power and propel the boat through the water. The repetitive motion of rowing puts constant strain on these muscles, making them stronger and more resilient over time.

The Mental Challenge

Rowing is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging. It requires focus, discipline, and mental toughness. Maintaining proper technique on the ergometer, coordinating with the rest of the team, and staying mentally engaged throughout a race or a long training session can be mentally exhausting, but it undeniably strengthens the athlete’s discipline. However, this mental challenge of managing the stroke rate and maintaining a steady rhythm on the ergometer is what often leads to personal growth and development.

The Technical Aspect

Rowing is a highly technical sport that requires precision and coordination. The rowing stroke involves a sequence of complex movements, including the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. Each phase needs to be executed with perfect timing and technique to maximize efficiency and speed. Mastering the technical aspects of rowing can take years of practice and dedication.

The Benefits

Despite its challenges, rowing offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental well-being. Rowing, especially on an ergometer, is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that improves stamina, endurance, and overall fitness. Indoor rowing also helps with weight loss, as it burns a significant number of calories. Additionally, indoor rowing is a low-impact sport that puts minimal stress on the joints, including the knees, making it suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Is Rowing the Most Difficult Sport?

Rowing is widely considered by those within international sports as one of the most physically demanding sports in the Olympic program. Indoor rowing requires extreme endurance and strength, as well as considerable mental fortitude and the ability to push oneself well past their limits, much like when an athlete participates in any high-demand sport. The physicality of rowing involves utilizing every major muscle group in the body, from the arms and legs to the abdomen and even the tips of the fingers. A rower must push with their legs, pull with their arms, and maintain strength and steadiness through their core. The combination of strength, endurance, and technical skill required in both indoor rowing and its outdoor counterpart contributes to its reputation as one of the most challenging sports for any athlete.

Is Rowing Good for Beginners?

For beginners, rowing can be a beneficial exercise. It is recommended for beginners to start rowing three to four times a week with adequate rest in between. Like any form of exercise, building stamina is essential, and over time, beginners can develop an endurance level that allows for more frequent rowing sessions. Rowing involves a full-body workout and can help increase stamina, endurance, and overall cardiovascular health.

How Hard Is Rowing Compared to Running?

In general, rowing builds muscle mass faster than running. A study found that rowing utilizes nearly 85 percent of the body’s muscles, while running is considered a lower-body exercise, using fewer muscles overall. The physical demands of rowing, which engage major muscle groups throughout the body, contribute to its reputation as a challenging and physically intense activity.

Can You Get in Good Shape Just by Rowing?

Rowing for even just 15 minutes provides a serious aerobic workout. Regular rowing can help increase stamina and endurance while improving overall cardiovascular health. The full-body engagement and physical demands of rowing make it an effective exercise for achieving and maintaining good physical fitness.

Why Does Rowing Feel So Hard?

Rowing feels hard because it engages every major muscle group in the body, whether you’re handling an oar in the water or pulling on the ergometer inside. A rower must push with their legs, pull with their arms, and maintain strength and steadiness through their core. Even minor movements or shifts in position can impact the boat’s stability during rowing. The physicality and technical demands of rowing contribute to its perception as a challenging and demanding sport.

Where Do the Weakest Rowers Sit?

In an 8-boat configuration, the bow pair tends to be the smallest and is where the weaker rowers may be positioned in terms of strength. Each position in a rowing boat requires specific skills and contributions to the overall performance of the team.

What Age Is Too Late to Start Rowing?

There is no specific age that is considered too late to start rowing. Many individuals have taken up rowing at various stages of life and have found success in the sport. In fact, individuals over 50 years old have taken up rowing for the first time and have gone on to compete at high levels. Rowing can be enjoyed recreationally or competitively at various ages.

Is It OK to Row Every Day?

Rowing machines can be used as much as 4-6 times a week, allowing individuals to incorporate rowing into their regular fitness routines for a quick burst of full-body cardio and muscle focus. However, like any form of exercise, it is important to listen to one’s body and incorporate adequate rest periods to prevent overtraining and allow for recovery.

Is 15 Too Old to Start Rowing?

Starting rowing at 15 years old is not too late. Many successful rowers have begun their training in their teenage years and have gone on to compete at high levels. Having a background in swimming or experience in cycling can provide a good base of fitness and understanding of endurance sports, which can be beneficial for transitioning to indoor rowing.

Are Rowers Fitter Than Runners?

Rowing, using the erg, builds muscle mass faster than running due to its engagement of nearly 85 percent of the body’s muscles, including the essential knee muscles. While both rowing and running offer unique physical benefits, rowing’s full-body engagement contributes to its reputation for building strength and endurance.

What Does a Rower’s Body Look Like?

Rowers tend to have larger, well-developed muscles due to the full-body engagement required in rowing. The sport utilizes every major muscle group, starting with the legs and requiring strong back, hip, and arm muscles whether you are handling an oar on water or working hard on the erg at the gym. Developing muscle mass using an ergometer is important for rowers, as it contributes to their overall performance whether on the water or during indoor rowing.

Is 20 Minutes Rowing Enough?

Improving cardiovascular health can begin with just 20 minutes of rowing, especially for individuals with lower fitness levels at the start. The duration of a rowing workout can be adjusted based on individual fitness goals and overall workout plans.

In summary, rowing is known for its physical demands, engaging every major muscle group in the body and providing an effective full-body workout. Indoor rowing can be suitable for beginners looking to improve their physical fitness and offers unique benefits compared to other forms of exercise such as running or cycling. Whether starting at a young age or later in life, individuals can find success and enjoyment in rowing as a sport or recreational activity.


Rowing is undeniably hard, both physically and mentally. It requires strength, endurance, focus, and technical skill. However, the rewards that come with rowing, both indoor and outdoor are immense, most especially for the determined athlete. From improved fitness and cardiovascular health to personal growth and mental resilience, rowing offers a unique and fulfilling experience. So, if you are willing to put in the effort and embrace the challenges, rowing can be an incredibly rewarding sport.


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