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Is Rowing Considered Cardio or Strength Training?

If you're looking for a workout that can help you build strength and improve your cardio fitness simultaneously, rowing might be the perfect exercise for you. It's not just for crew athletes anymore – it's becoming increasingly popular as a full-body workout that can benefit anyone. At Row House, we foster an inclusive community that offers on-and-off the rower movements that benefit your heart health, muscular composition, and calorie burning efforts.  Keep reading to understand the strength and cardio benefits of rowing workouts and Row House classes, and why it's considered a cardio and strength training workout. Don’t forget, your first class is free at Row House. 


Rowing is one of the few workouts that can provide both cardio and strength training in one, making it the best of both worlds. This full-body workout provides a low-impact, high-intensity workout that increases cardiovascular endurance while also building muscular strength and endurance.

At Row House, we take indoor rowing to the next level by combining it with off the rower movements to further emphasize strength training. Our fitness classes provide a dynamic and effective workout that targets both cardio and strength training on the rower, and also providing workouts off the rower to maximize our strength building. This interval-based programming also provides variety to keep your workouts fun and interesting!

Our floor exercises that target specific muscle groups, include bodyweight exercises, dumbbell workouts, and resistance band exercises. These exercises are designed to strengthen muscles and improve overall fitness, while also providing variety and keeping workouts interesting.

By combining indoor rowing with off the rower movements, our fitness classes provide a comprehensive workout that targets both cardio and strength training, and can maximize calorie burn. Our experienced coaches provide guidance and support throughout each class, ensuring that participants are getting the most out of their workout.

Remember, Row House offers many different class formats that emphasize both strength and cardio on-and-off the rowing machine. Be sure to check out all of our different class types by clicking here.



Indoor rowing is a highly effective cardio workout that can help improve heart health, increase endurance, and burn calories. During a rowing workout, the rower moves through a full range of motion that requires the use of multiple muscle groups, including the legs, core, and arms. This continuous movement elevates the heart rate, causing the heart and lungs to work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, rowing was found to be a more effective form of cardio exercise than stationary cycling for improving cardiovascular fitness. In fact, rowing was shown to increase VO2 max (a measure of aerobic capacity) by 5% after just 8 weeks of training.  VO2 max is a measure of how well your body uses oxygen during exercise. The higher your VO2 max, the better your heart and lungs are working, and the better your physical fitness is. This measurement can be used to monitor changes in your fitness level over time and to design workout programs that are best suited for your needs. Essentially, VO2 max is a good way to determine how fit your cardiovascular system is.

Additionally, rowing can also help with weight loss and calorie burn. A 185-pound person can burn around 377 calories in just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity rowing, according to the American Council on Exercise.  At Row House, we move through different intensities of rowing. From steady state cardio, to high intensity sprints. These intervals help elevate our metabolism, which means you continue to burn calories at a higher rate, even after your workout is over! 



Indoor rowing is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups, making it an effective form of strength training. The primary muscles used during indoor rowing are the legs, core, back, and arms.

The legs are the main powerhouse during an indoor rowing stroke. The movement starts with a powerful leg drive, pushing off the footplate to propel the body back. This movement engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.  As the legs extend, the core muscles engage to maintain proper posture and stability throughout the stroke. This includes the abdominals, obliques, and back muscles.

The back muscles also play a significant role in an indoor rowing stroke. As the legs drive back, the upper body leans back slightly, engaging the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles.  Lastly, the arms complete the stroke by pulling the handle towards the body. This movement engages the biceps, triceps, and forearms.

Incorporating indoor rowing into your fitness routine can help improve overall muscular strength and endurance. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that indoor rowing training increased muscular strength in the legs, core, and back muscles, while also improving cardiovascular fitness.

At Row House, our indoor rowing classes provide a full-body workout that emphasizes both cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Our classes incorporate on and off-rowing machine exercises to engage multiple muscle groups, promoting overall strength and fitness.


Rowing workouts are considered both cardio and strength workouts due to the repetitive motions of the rowing machine movement combined with the muscle activations through each stroke. So, whether you're looking to improve cardiovascular fitness, build muscular strength, or simply shake up your workout routine, Row House provides a dynamic and effective workout that delivers results. Come join us for a free class today and experience the best of both worlds - cardio and strength training in one!


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