Rowing as a Hobby: From Couch Potato to Crew Champion

Rowing as a hobby is a fantastic way to stay active, challenge yourself, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Whether you prefer the peace and solitude of a calm lake or the thrill of racing through rapids, rowing can offer a unique and rewarding experience.

With its emphasis on teamwork, discipline, and technique, rowing can also provide valuable life skills that extend far beyond the water. So why not grab an oar and give it a try?

See Also: What Are Some Sports Hobbies?

Benefits of Rowing as a Hobby

Rowing is a great hobby that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. It is an excellent way to stay fit, relieve stress, and have fun. In this section, we will explore the physical and mental benefits of rowing as a hobby.

Physical Benefits

Rowing is a full-body workout that engages all the major muscle groups. It is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints and can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels. Here are some of the physical benefits of rowing as a hobby:

  • Strengthens Muscles: Rowing is an excellent way to build strength in your upper and lower body, including your arms, shoulders, back, abs, glutes, and legs.
  • Improves Cardiovascular Health: Rowing is a high-intensity, low-impact exercise that can improve your cardiovascular health and increase your stamina.
  • Helps with Weight Loss: Rowing is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. It is estimated that rowing can burn up to 600 calories per hour.
  • Improves Joint Health: Rowing is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints. It can help improve joint health and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Improves Posture: Rowing can help improve your posture by strengthening your core muscles and aligning your spine.

Mental Benefits

Rowing is not just a physical exercise; it also offers numerous mental benefits. Here are some of the mental benefits of rowing as a hobby:

  • Relieves Stress: Rowing can be a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind. It is a low-impact exercise that can help you relax and unwind.
  • Boosts Mood: Rowing can help boost your mood and improve your mental health. It releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters.
  • Improves Focus: Rowing requires concentration and focus, which can help improve your mental clarity and focus.
  • Promotes Relaxation: Rowing can be a meditative exercise that promotes relaxation and mindfulness.

Proper Technique

To get the most out of rowing as a hobby, it is essential to use proper technique.

Here are some tips for proper rowing technique:

  • Warm-Up: Always warm up before rowing to prevent injury and prepare your muscles for the workout.
  • Catch Position: The catch position is the starting position of the rowing stroke. Make sure to keep your heels down, your back straight, and your arms extended.
  • Stroke Rate: The stroke rate is the number of strokes per minute. It is important to maintain a steady stroke rate to avoid fatigue and injury.
  • Interval Training: Interval training is an excellent way to improve your rowing performance. It involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity workouts.
  • Proper Resistance: Adjust the resistance on the rowing machine to match your fitness level and goals.
  • Stable Technique: Maintain a stable technique throughout the rowing stroke to avoid injury and improve performance.

Different Types of Rowing

If you are interested in rowing as a hobby, it is important to understand the different types of rowing.

Rowing can be done indoors or outdoors, and each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits.

Indoor Rowing

Indoor rowing is a great option for those who want to experience rowing without being on the water.

Indoor rowing machines, also known as ergometers or “ergs,” simulate the motion of rowing on water. They provide a low-impact, full-body workout that can improve your cardiovascular health, build muscle, and burn calories.

Indoor rowing is a popular option for those who live in areas with limited access to water or for those who want to train year-round. It is also a great way to track your progress and improve your technique before hitting the water.

Outdoor Rowing

Outdoor rowing is the traditional form of rowing and involves rowing on a body of water. It can be done in a variety of settings, including lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Outdoor rowing provides a unique connection to nature and can be a peaceful and meditative experience.

There are two main types of outdoor rowing: sculling and sweep rowing.

In sculling, each rower has two oars, one in each hand. In sweep rowing, each rower has one oar, and the rowers work in pairs or fours to move the boat.

Here is a table summarizing the differences between sculling and sweep rowing:

ScullingSweep Rowing
Each rower has two oarsEach rower has one oar
More complex techniqueEasier technique
Can be done in singles, doubles, or quadsDone in pairs or fours
Used in both recreational and competitive rowingUsed mainly in competitive rowing

Whether you choose indoor or outdoor rowing, rowing is a great way to stay active and connect with the water and nature.

Rowing Techniques

If you’re new to rowing, it’s important to learn the proper technique to ensure a safe and effective workout. In this section, we’ll cover the stroke technique, sculling vs sweep, and coxing.

Stroke Technique

The stroke technique is the foundation of rowing. It’s important to understand the proper form to avoid injury and maximize your performance. The stroke consists of four parts: the catch, drive, finish, and recovery.

At the catch position, your legs are fully extended, your arms are straight, and your torso is leaning forward. From there, you initiate the drive by pushing your legs while keeping your arms straight. Once your legs are fully extended, you begin to pull the oar towards your chest while leaning back. Finally, you release the oar and return to the catch position.

Sculling vs Sweep

When it comes to rowing, there are two types of techniques: sculling and sweep. Sculling involves two oars, one in each hand, while sweep involves one oar held with both hands. Sculling is typically used in smaller boats, while sweep is used in larger boats.

The choice between sculling and sweep ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some people find sculling to be more challenging, while others prefer the simplicity of sweep. If you’re new to rowing, it’s a good idea to try both techniques to see which one you prefer.


Coxing is an important part of rowing, especially in larger boats. The coxswain is responsible for steering the boat, communicating with the rowers, and keeping track of the race. It’s important for the coxswain to have a good understanding of rowing technique and strategy.

If you’re interested in coxing, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, you need to be able to communicate effectively with the rowers. This means speaking clearly and using the right terminology. You also need to have a good understanding of the course and the race strategy.

Overall, rowing is a challenging but rewarding hobby. By learning the proper technique and practicing regularly, you can improve your performance and enjoy all the benefits of this exciting sport.

Training and Workouts

If you’re new to rowing, it’s important to start with proper technique to avoid injury. Once you have the basics down, you can start incorporating different types of workouts to improve your strength, speed, and endurance. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular workout types and training programs for rowing.

Workout Types


Steady-state workouts are longer, low-intensity sessions that focus on building endurance. These workouts typically last 30-60 minutes and are done at a consistent pace. They’re great for improving cardiovascular health and building stamina.


Interval workouts involve alternating between periods of high-intensity and low-intensity rowing. This type of training is great for improving speed and conditioning. For example, you might do 30 seconds of all-out rowing followed by 30 seconds of rest, and repeat for several rounds.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short, intense bursts of exercise followed by periods of rest. HIIT workouts are great for burning fat and improving overall fitness. For rowing, you might do 30 seconds of all-out rowing followed by 30 seconds of rest, and repeat for several rounds.


Cross-training involves incorporating other types of exercise into your rowing routine. This can help prevent injury, improve overall fitness, and keep things interesting. Some great cross-training options for rowers include burpees, push-ups, treadmill running, and biking.

Training Programs

Beginner Program

If you’re new to rowing, start with a beginner program that focuses on proper technique and building endurance. This might involve 20-30 minute steady-state workouts with a focus on technique and form.

Intermediate Program

Once you’ve built up some endurance, you can start incorporating more interval and HIIT workouts into your routine. This might involve 30-45 minute workouts with a mix of steady-state and interval training.

Advanced Program

For competitive rowers or those looking to take their training to the next level, an advanced program might involve longer, high-intensity workouts with a focus on split time and conditioning. This might involve 60+ minute workouts with a mix of steady-state, interval, and HIIT training.

No matter what type of workout or training program you choose, it’s important to warm up properly before each session and focus on proper technique to avoid injury. Rowing is a full-body workout that engages major muscle groups in the upper and lower body, as well as the core and glutes. With consistent training and proper technique, you can improve your strength, speed, and endurance, and enjoy the many benefits of rowing as a hobby or competitive sport.

Equipment and Gear

When it comes to rowing, having the right equipment and gear can make all the difference in your performance and overall experience. Here are the essential items you’ll need to get started.

Rowing Machines

If you’re just starting out with rowing, investing in an indoor rowing machine, also known as an ergometer or erg, can be a great way to improve your technique and build endurance. There are many different types of rowing machines available, but most use a flywheel and fan to simulate the resistance of rowing on water.

When choosing a rowing machine, consider factors such as resistance type (air, water, or magnetic), noise level, and size. Some popular brands include Concept2, WaterRower, and NordicTrack.


When it comes to rowing clothing, comfort and functionality are key. You’ll want to wear clothing that allows for a full range of motion and wicks away sweat to keep you dry and comfortable during your workout. Some popular clothing items for rowing include:

  • Spandex shorts or leggings
  • Compression tops
  • Rowing unisuits (one-piece suits designed specifically for rowing)
  • Breathable socks
  • Athletic shoes with good grip


In addition to clothing and a rowing machine, there are a few other accessories that can enhance your rowing experience. Some popular options include:

  • Heart rate monitor: This can help you track your intensity and ensure you’re staying within your target heart rate zone.
  • Rowing gloves: These can help prevent blisters and improve grip on the oars.
  • Water bottle: Staying hydrated is important during any workout, so be sure to bring along a water bottle.
  • Sunglasses: If you’re rowing outdoors, a pair of polarized sunglasses can help reduce glare and protect your eyes from UV rays.


Overall, rowing is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby that can offer a wide range of benefits. Whether you’re looking to improve your fitness, spend time outdoors, or connect with a community of like-minded individuals, rowing is definitely worth considering.