Rowing vs Weight Training: Which Builds More Muscle?

If you really want to work on building those arm muscles, what class should you sign up for?

You’ve taken rowing classes and you’ve been through more than a handful of circuit-training classes. They both work your muscles and help you build endurance with reps, but which one is more beneficial? 


Rowing has been growing in popularity since last year. The erg is a bit hit among CrossFit participants and Paleo aficionados, and owing studios have opened across the country with full classes and waiting lists. It’s easy to see why: According to Men’s Fitness, rowing is a total body workout that can help improve your cardiovascular endurance and burn fat. Many people have the misconception that using the rowing machine (or “erg”) only targets the upper body. With proper technique and form, you will target the lower body muscles, especially the hamstrings and glutes. Over time your core strength and posture will improve as well.

Weight training

Lifting weights three times during the week can work many wonders for your body. It will help increase your bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Over time your muscles, tendons and ligaments will get stronger, reducing your risk of injury from sports or everyday activities. Plus, after the age of 30 we start to lose about one-half pound of muscle per year, which can cause your metabolism to slow down. Weight lifting increases your lean muscle mass, making it a little easier to maintain your weight. And, of course, as you get stronger, everyday activities will be more tolerable.

Rowing vs weight training

Here’s the thing: Rowing does require a degree of strength to improve your form. Richard Butler of  US Rowing says this about incorporating the two modalities: “Rowing is a whole body workout. The rowing movement teaches an athlete how to engage all of their muscles. Since rowing is also an anaerobic activity, it helps athletes train longer in their threshold (think all-out effort) zone. This tolerance helps during the pushing phase of strength training routines.” The verdict? Try a rowing class with strength training intervals once or twice a week at a ClassPass studio such as RowZone to add variety to your fitness routine.

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