Does Rowing Make You Bulky? 

Rowing is a sport that requires endurance, strength, and stamina. Rowers are typically slim athletes who have to work hard to remain that way. 

This is a common question that rowing beginners often ask is, does rowing make you bulky?

Let’s dive into today’s article on on whether rowing will make you bulky. And what kind of body to expect from rowing.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Does Rowing Make You Bulky?

Rowing is a complete full-body exercise. It uses all the major muscle groups in your body, including the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, lower back, shoulders, and upper back. 

While rowing can develop your upper body and core muscles, the excess bulkiness is not the same as the bulkiness that you experience by lifting weights. 

A rowing stroke where the handle travels directly back and forth parallel to the ground is known as the “fly” or “horizontal” stroke. 

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense why rowing would not lead to bulkiness. 

When you are rowing fast, your arms move in a very compressed area of your body, that means there isn’t much opportunity for bulky muscles. 

While professional rowers may be strongly built due to an expertly paired lifting regimen, a regular rowing machine class will not cause you to bulk up. 

In fact, rowing can help improve your cardiovascular health, burn calories, and increase your metabolism. 

So, it is not surprising that many people think that rowing will make you bulky.

Why are rowers so muscular?

Trainer in a white top tank rowing on a rowing machine

There are a few potential explanations for this. First and foremost, competitive rowers are incredibly disciplined.

They have to follow a strict training regimen and a healthy diet that is rich in protein. So, it is not just the sport that makes them muscular. 

The amount of rowing that competitive rowers do on a daily basis can also make them muscular. 

Rowing is a full-body exercise that works both your upper and lower body. Rowing on an indoor rowing machine can also help you develop muscles. An indoor rowing machine is great for beginners and advanced rowers who don’t have access to a boat on the water.

How does rowing change your body?

Since rowing is an aerobic exercise, it helps improve your cardiovascular health, build endurance, and can even help you lose weight. 

The more you do it, the better your body will be at using oxygen to produce energy and burn fat.

Rowing has been proven to improve your cardiovascular endurance, which is the ability of your heart to pump blood and nutrients to your muscles and organs at all times during your exercise.

This can help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. 

Rowing can make your heart larger, which can help it pump blood faster and more efficiently. 

This is why cardiovascular exercises are recommended for people with heart conditions.

Rowing also helps make your shoulders, upper back, and arms stronger. The stronger these muscles are, the more power you can generate while rowing. 

This is important if you want to increase your pace. 

As for the lower body, rowing can help strengthen your legs and gluteal muscles

It can also make your hamstrings and quadriceps stronger. 

This cardio exercise is also beneficial to your joints, including your knees and ankles, especially for people who may be looking for the best rowing machine for bad knees

It can improve your balance and stability, which is especially helpful for people who are aging.

What kind of body does rowing give you?

There’s a reason rowing is such a beloved sport. It’s an excellent workout for your core, legs and arms. 

Rowing is a sport that will surely make you fit and strong. 

No doubt about that. But it will not give you a bodybuilder-like physique. 

However, one of the most important benefits of rowing is that it builds strength in your upper body. 

This helps improve posture, which can help aid in a healthier back. 

Rowing workouts also work well for arms and shoulders, as it requires you to keep your arms extended and at a 90-degree angle while rowing. This helps strengthen the arms and shoulders.

Besides the physical benefits, rowing can even improve blood pressure levels, as it helps to lower levels of stress and anxiety throughout your day. 

This can be especially helpful if you have high blood pressure or are at risk for hypertension.

And by frequently practicing rowing, it helps increase your flexibility because it involves bending, extending and rotating your limbs in ways that are different from other movements like running or walking.


Rowing is a full-body sport, so it will make you look like an all-around athlete. It will make you fit but not necessarily bulky. 

This exercise equipment will help you develop muscle strength, which is great for your health. 

However, it will not make you look like a bodybuilder. You might actually look like a leaner, more athletic version of yourself. 

So, if you are looking to put on muscle mass, rowing is not the right sport for you. You will have to lift weights in addition to your rowing workouts in order to put on some serious muscle mass.

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