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Benefits of Rowing Machine for Abs and Stomach Toning

rowing for abs and stomach toning

“Can I get six-pack abs by rowing?”

I get asked this question a lot by my readers.

So I thought I should cover this hot topic in a post for everyone rather than telling individually on emails.

Let’s see how rowing can help you in toning your stomach and eventually build abs.

In this post you’ll learn about:

  • “Can rowing help you get a toned stomach?”
  • “How to build abs using a rowing machine?”

There is no doubt that rowing is a solid full-body workout. And when it is said that rowing is a full-body workout, it means that rowing can also help in toning abdominal muscles.

It’s a low-impact, high-intensity workout that involves 83% of your body muscles that boosts muscular strength and endurance.

Rowing can turn out to be very effective when losing weight is your prime concern.

Fact: You can burn about 632 calories in just an hour of workout on a rowing machine (for an individual who weighs around 150 pounds).

Can Rowing Help You Get a Toned Stomach?

The simplest answer to “will a rowing machine tone my stomach?” is a big resounding ‘YES’.

Who doesn’t want to get rid of those less-than-attractive fats showing on your stomach? It looks so unappealing and also increases your risk of multiple serious diseases.

The regular and systematic use of the rowing machine ensures a toned stomach and perfect abs.

There are multiple ways through which a rowing machine can help you tone your stomach to an ideal shape:

  1. It helps you get rid of the extra fat that has been accumulating with excessive food or lack of proper exercise. Once you have worked your way through the fat, the abs will shine out.
  2. Rowing is one of the most effective ways of developing strong abdominal muscles. Since you are getting rid of the fat and building strong abdominal muscles – what else do you need for a toned stomach?
  3. Each rowing stroke (when done rightly) puts to use all the core muscles of your body, including your stomach – and hence, helps in toning it to an ideal shape.
  4. The rowing machine puts to use all the major abdominal muscles and eases your way towards a toned stomach.
  5. The rowing machine has been lauded by professionals because of its effectiveness as an all-body workout, and stomach muscles are no exception.

proper form of rowing by

When I talk about rowing strokes being done rightly, I mean using proper guidelines from an instructor, a manual, online guide or some professional on how you can use the rowing machine in an optimal way to melt away your belly fat and tone your stomach muscles.

HIIT and LISS are two proven techniques that can effectively help you in this regard.

If you perform roughly around 15-20 strokes every minute and give it your full power, it will help you in maximizing the results you are aiming at – that is, toning the stomach.

Picture Credit: Marco Verch

Get Your Whole Body in Shape With Rowing

While you are aiming at toning your stomach, you wouldn’t only want to get your stomach in shape while leaving the rest of the muscles on your body flabby and slack.

The good thing about the rowing machine is that it works on all the muscles on your body, thus serving your purpose and giving you extra benefits too.

Instead of working crazy to target the fats on a particular part of your body (like the stomach), try to set your target on an overall healthy body and proportionate fat loss from all areas of your body.

When your whole body tones down, stomach fat will inevitably go away as well.

Point of caution: If you are just starting out on a rowing machine to tone your stomach, please be cautious and do not overdo it. You should be aiming at slowly building your stamina and maintaining a routine.

Side note: Get a good pair of gloves for rowing to avoid blisters.

How to Build Abs Using a Rowing Machine

There are some factors to consider while rowing.

  • Body posture is the key to any exercise. If the posture is not maintained well then you may end up developing strain in different muscle groups. Similar is the case with rowing, for abs (Abdominal muscles) sitting posture should be maintained to maximize the results.
  • If you are targeting the abdominal muscles, especially for building Abs. Then you need to choose high-intensity exercise and not just simple cardio.
  • Harder workouts have high impacts. Same is the case with rowing, when you target abdominal muscles, the harder you row the more you strengthen your core. So, when you row for Abs- the number of strokes does not matter but what matters is the intensity of your workout. Which means you need to row harder but not too long.

Crunches Versus Rowing for Abs

There is no doubt that crunches are considered to be the best and most cost-effective approach to building abs. And I admit that crunches are the most cost-effective exercise for abs building because for crunches you just need a mat.

Crunch is an isolation exercise whereas rowing is a full-body exercise. But here you can check out this exercise video on how you can best utilize your rowing machine for smart crunches.

Here are some brief key points that give rowing an upper hand.

#1. Full body workout

Rowing is a full-body workout whereas crunches target only the abdominal muscles. Rowing also increases heart rate and engages different muscle groups.

#2. Burn Calories (Lose Weight)

As I already mentioned above, using a rowing machine a man who weighs around 150 pounds can burn about 632 calories in an hour.

#3. Muscle Toning

Rowing is particularly effective in toning different muscle groups (Upper body + Lower body).

#4. Low Impact

Rowing is considered among the lowest impact exercises. Even the injured athletes row to recover from the impact. Low impact means a low risk of muscle and joint injuries. (But always a doctor’s advice is recommended).


Yes, rowing can help you achieve the desired results of having Abs or a toned stomach if done correctly.

By the way, if you are planning to buy a rowing machine for yourself.

Then you should definitely look at the list of best rowing machines that I reviewed for you.

And if you ask me to pick one (regardless of the budget), Concept2 Model D (full review inside) is the one that I can recommend blindfolded to anyone from beginners to athletes.

+ Resources and Information Used:

Rectus Abdominis Muscle Wiki