It’s hard to find a cardio machine that works your body harder than an indoor rower. It requires equal effort from your upper and lower body, extreme cardiovascular fitness, and ridiculous muscular endurance to blast out rep after rep. Plus, since it’s a non-weight-bearing piece of equipment and you are using your entire body, targeted muscle-soreness won’t be an issue. In fact, you can expect an all-over burn.

And it’s great for fat loss, too. A 185-pound guy can burn 377 calories by rowing vigorously for only 30 minutes, report researchers at Harvard University. But it’s not just great for a quick cardio burst. You can target specific muscle groups and use the rower as a universal sculpting machine with the exercises in our new series. 

Get ready to make the rower your new favorite workout machine. Rowers use 80 percent of your muscles with every stroke to burn 540 calories per hour with minimum impact. Plus you can’t cheat like with spinning, ellipticals or treadmills. There’s no resistance knob, no cruise control and no handles to hold onto when you get tired.

Take on the following body sculpting series. Now that we’ve conquered core work and lower body, 

Upper Body Burner

Bicep Curl

Sets/Reps: 3×20

  • Sit on rower with legs extended.
  • Hold handle in both hands with an underhand grip and extend arms slightly up; lean torso back 45 degrees to start.
  • Curl palms toward forehead.
  • Return to start and repeat for reps.

Split Parallel Push-Up


Sets/Reps: 3×10 (per side)

  • Start with right side of body parallel to rower (facing the back) in plank with left palm on floor and right palm on rail.
  • Do a push-up.
  • Complete reps, then repeat on the other side.

Triceps Dip

Sets/Reps: 3×20

  • Sit on floor perpendicular to rower with back pressed against rail, legs long, and elbows bent at sides with palms in front of chest to start.
  • Swing elbows back to place palms on rail outside of hips.
  • Straighten arms to press hips up. Return to start.

Split Vertical Push-Up


Sets/Reps: 3×10 (per side)

  • Start in Plank position with your chest over top of the rower, right hand on the seat and left hand on the rail.
  • Do a Push-Up moving your right hand out as far.
  • Complete reps, then repeat on the other side.