Sculling vs Rowing | Differences, Similarities & Workouts Compared

There are two different types of rowing: sweep rowing and sculling. Both of these methods are equally effective when trying to lose weight, but there are minor differences between them. So, let us understand the difference and how each one of them is effective.

While there are some differences between rowing and sculling, like both exercises, use different equipment and techniques, but broadly the impact of both exercises is the same.

The main difference between sweep rowing and sculling is that in sweep rowing, each person holds one oar with both hands. While in sculling, every rower holds two oars (one oar in each hand).

Rowing

rowing both hands on one oar

Sweep rowing is when athletes use one oar to propel a boat in the water. Both the hands are on that one oar. And because every rower holds only one oar, in sweep rowing, there should be an even number of persons on the boat (that is in pairs) to move the boat straight with equal force involved on each side.

Sculling

sculling - one oar in each hand

Sculling is when athletes use two oars, one oar in each hand, to propel a boat in the water. Because each rower has two oars in their hands, the sculling can also be done by a single rower.

Sculling is a superb workout because it affects all your major muscle groups like arms, legs, and back. However, sculling is mainly for outdoors.

Sculling on the actual water is quite hard as the boats are narrow, and it is quite hard to keep your balance. If this method is not for you, there are a lot of sculling machines that can provide you the same benefits without having to be on the water. Sculling, like rowing, is an extremely effective exercise.

🔗 Convinced? Here are my recommended rowing machines to buy

Rowing and Sculling as Exercise

Working out on a rowing machine or sculling machine is an excellent exercise for the arms, stomach, chest, and even the upper back.

Unlike crunches, that only focuses on the abs and not on any other body part. Rowing and sculling target different body parts during the workout and not just one.

Rowing and sculling exercises are also easier on the joints than jogging, running, and skipping rope because they are non-weight bearing and low-impact aerobics.

Rowing has many benefits that include weight loss, increased stamina, strengthened the immune system, and even improved sleep quality.

Rowing is a total body workout that is an overall fitness gamechanger. Rowing builds upper body strength along with lower body strength. It is a fine combination of cardio and aerobic that create the ultimate workout.

Benefits of Rowing and Sculling

Rowing and sculling are aerobic exercises, so they are beneficial for the heart and lungs, which are our most important organs. By having a healthy heart and lungs, your metabolism increases, which is extremely helpful when it comes to losing weight.

  1. By focusing on many different body parts, it will give you a more toned body and will play a massive role during weight loss.
  2. Rowing and sculling help to burn a lot of calories, so for weight loss, combine your rowing/sculling exercise with healthy eating habits.
  3. They improve your body flexibility and stamina, which will allow you to move on to more complex exercises if you are a beginner.
  4. It provides a lot of resistance, unlike many other exercises, which means you don’t have to endure long workouts to lose weight at a fast pace.

Utilize Rowing and Sculling for Weight Loss

With just 15 minutes of workout on a rowing or sculling machine, you can lose about half a pound a week without going on any special diet. If you want to lose more weight, you will just need to increase your time on the exercise machine.

It is estimated that an adult should exercise about 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise in a week. Alternately, you can opt for 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week to maintain your weight. A combination of vigorous and moderate exercise can also work quite well.

To lose weight, an adult should exercise for 300 minutes or more per week. That is only 30-40 minutes exercising and is very effective when performed with a combination of clean and healthy eating.

🔗 Side Note: Why wearing gloves is essential while indoor/outdoor rowing

How to Workout on a Rowing or Sculling Machine

Basic rowing or sculling workout, when done correctly, can be just as efficient compared to more complex workouts when it comes to fat loss. Here is how to workout on rowing or sculling machine:

  1. Start off in a crouched position at the beginning of the machine. Hold the bars of the machine and get ready to begin.
  2. First, you have to push backward with your legs so that your seat slides back. How far back you go is dependent on you and your dedication. If you would like to start slow, you may choose to move back a little, and gradually work all the way to the back. Or you may choose to go all the way back if you are an experienced rower.
  3. Next, you need to exert force pulling back with your hips while letting your hips swing. Basically, you have to spread out from your previously crouched position.
  4. Finally, pull the bars with your arms until they are bent at the elbows.

Now for the return, follow these steps:

  1. Since your arms are bent at this point, you are going to stretch them out again.
  2. Now you are going to bend so that you are once again are in the hunched position. At this point, your hips should be close to your knees, and you should feel a burn if you are doing it right.
  3. Then you have to slide back to the front of the machine
  4. Keep repeating this combined with the above steps to do a complete row.

Continue doing this forward and backward motion for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Then continue the machine for 2 minutes, rest for 2 minutes. Continue for 4 minutes, then rest for 4 minutes. Keep doubling the workout time and the rest time. When you feel you are done, go in the reverse order.

Start moving back from 4 minutes to 1 minute. Depending on how much you want to do and how much time you have, you can go up to 16 minutes or even 32 minutes. Just keep in mind, you will eventually have to do it in the reverse order, so don’t tire yourself out. It is better to build your stamina gradually.

Rowing and sculling machines require effort and dedication. These workouts specifically provide exercise to 3 different areas of the body; it works out the arms, hips, and legs. The percentage of the workout is as follows: 60% legs, 30% hips, and 10% arms.

Now you can see that there is not much difference between the usage of rowing or sculling machines or the effect they put on your body. So, you can opt for any one of them, or you can take professional advice from a trainer keeping in view the results you need.

Do not forget to tell me what you are good at – Sculling or Sweep Rowing?

Additional Sources:

The physiology of rowing by Niels H. Secher

Upper Versus Lower Body Contribution to the Rowing Stroke by Davon I. Jones

Anam

Anam Shabista is a writer, blogger, aspiring chartered accountant, and author at RowingFeed.