Rowing machines are a great exercise for getting in shape, but are rowing machines good for abs? Do rowing machines target your abs enough to make a discernable difference to your ab strength? Can you build abs just from rowing machines? And if so, what’s the best way to use a rowing machine in order to maximise your ab gains?
We cover all of this and more in this article, so let’s get stuck in!
Are Rowing Machines Good for your Abs?
Rowing machines are a great way to work your abs, and they can be used in a variety of ways to give you the best ab workout possible. However, there’s no such thing as too much ab training – so if you’re focusing on building up your core for beach season or sports performance then adding some extra ab exercises into your weekly program will always do you good.
The ab benefits of rowing machines
First, we need to establish what you can expect from a rowing machine in terms of abs training. I’m talking here about the typical upright rower that’s found at most gyms such as air rowing machines and magnetic rowing machines – you’ll get much less of an ab workout from other types such as hydraulic rowers because they’re a lot more focussed on your arms and back.
If you’re looking at getting a home rowing machine, check out our article on the best budget rowing machines.
When you exercise on a rowing machine, your body will engage all of the muscles in your trunk – including those that form part of your abdomen. This means that rowing is one of the most effective total-body ab exercises. And because it’s an aerobic activity as well, you’ll be working hard enough for long enough to burn some fat and shed any extra fat you have around the abdomen, further enhancing the look of your abs.
Rowing machines for abs – how to get the most out of them
To get the most out of rowing machines when targeting your abs, you’ll need to ensure you do the following:
1. Keep your upper body absolutely straight while using a rowing machine
In other words, avoid the urge to hunch over like you’re sitting in an office chair. This will leave your abs and low back cold – and it’ll also put strain on them as well which isn’t ideal if you want to focus on strengthening those areas.
Instead, keep yourself upright and straight and focus solely on pulling with your upper body and increasing your pace.
2. Maintain focus on the pull throughout your whole row
You want to push with your lower body at the beginning of the row, then follow it up by engaging your back to pull the handle towards you. Make sure you really focus on pulling through the row with your back as opposed to your arms, otherwise it will take away from your abs.
3. Keep your core tight and engaged throughout
You might be inclined to unintentionally allow some of that ab-targeting tension to leave your core throughout a set on a rowing machine, but this isn’t going to help you get that six-pack – in fact, it’s just going to waste time and energy.
To minimise this risk, squeeze your abs as you’re pulling and try to maintain that tension throughout the exercise. It might help to imagine flexing your abs at the same time. You might also find it useful to visualise a tightening rope around your midsection – draw this rope in every time you pull.
Maximise your Abs Gains using a Rowing Machine
If you want to double down on your ab gains from rowing then consider supersetting your rowing machine routine with some abdominal exercises, such as crunches, reverse crunches and planks, to maximise your workout.
Supersetting is when you perform two exercises back to back, without any rest time in between them.
To give you an idea of how this might work when it comes to building your abs with a rowing machine, take a look at our example workout below:
Example Rowing Machine abs Workout
2 minutes moderate rowing on a mid/high resistance level SS with 1 minute plank
Rest for 1 minute
2 minutes moderate rowing on a mid/high resistance level SS with 2 minutes of crunches (as many reps as possible)
Rest for 1 minute
2 minutes moderate rowing on a mid/high resistance level SS with 2 minutes of reverse crunches (as many reps as possible)
Rest for 1 minute
Repeat one to two more times depending on fitness level.
This is just an example workout for improving your ab strength by supersetting your rowing machine workout with isolated abs exercises. We would also recommend adding further abdominal exercises to your workouts in order to further enhance your abs.
So, are rowing machines good for abs?
Rowing machines aren’t the most exciting form of cardio equipment, but they’re excellent for improving your abdominal strength and overall core stability. And as we outlined in this article, there are some simple tweaks you can make to your rowing machine workout to ensure that your abs get a really good workout too.
To summarise, ensure that you:
- Keep your upper body absolutely straight while using a rowing machine
- Maintain focus on the pull throughout your whole row
- Keep your core tight and engaged throughout
- Consider supersetting your rowing with isolated ab exercises such as planks or crunches.
I hope this article helps you get the most out of your workouts. If you have any questions regarding ab workouts using a rowing machine, leave a comment below!