Is Rowing Also Strength Training?

Are you obsessed with the Peloton Row? Yes, rowing is an incredible workout that engages 86 percent of your muscles, gets your heart rate up, and yields impressive results for both endurance and muscle-toning. But can rowing replace traditional strength and resistance training? Let’s find out!  Peloton recently did a deep dive into the subject on their blog, The Output, with instructors Alex Karwoski and Adrian Williams.

Rowing offers a variety of workouts that target your entire body. It’s about 70 percent legs, 20 percent body, and 10 percent arms. Plus, it can serve different purposes in your weekly routine.  It can be a warm-up; it can be your super-challenging primary workout, or it can be your easy recovery session – all depending on how your body feels. With rowing, you can take it easy on your joints since you stay seated the whole time, unlike high-impact exercises like running. And don’t be fooled – rowing can give you an amazing workout.

The rowing stroke begins with a powerful leg push, similar to doing a leg press at the gym (and some of the Row instructors even refer to the feeling of an explosive squat jump.) But does that mean rowing can replace your strength training sessions – especially on leg day? 

“While rowing does primarily target and strengthen certain large muscle groups, mainly the legs, and body, it may not be the most effective method for building muscle mass compared to other forms of resistance training such as weight lifting,” explains Alex. “Rowing primarily relies on the leg drive to generate power but it doesn’t provide the same level of muscle stimulation as dedicated lower body exercises such as deadlifts or squats.”

“Your muscles will definitely become stronger, especially your glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and core,” adds Adrian. “But I would not say rowing can replace your strength training.”

For a well-rounded fitness routine, you need a mix of aerobic endurance training, weight training to build muscle mass, and resistance training to sculpt and strengthen your muscles. Rowing can cover both endurance and resistance training, but it’s important to incorporate weight training as well. Not only will this improve your performance, but it’s crucial for maintaining your overall health. After the age of 30, you can lose up to 8 percent of your muscle mass per decade unless you actively build new muscle through strength training. So don’t let future problems catch up with you – keep that muscle mass strong!

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