Rowing provides an efficient, effective, low-impact workout that utilizes all the major muscle groups, including the back, legs, arms, abdominals and buttocks. It is also one of the best exercises for building a strong back, as well as one of the most effective low-impact aerobic exercises for increasing your metabolism. As a result, you can efficiently burn calories and fat without impacting your joints.
The continuous, non-impact movement of rowing can be broken down into three phases: the starting point is called the catch phase, followed by the drive phase, the finish, and the recovery. In the catch phase, knees are bent with shins vertical and shoulders and arms reaching forward. This phase mimics the point where the oars are being placed in the water. The drive phase is initiated by the legs. As the legs extend, your arms remain straight until the knees are mostly extended. Then the elbows flex bringing the oar handles into the upper stomach. In the finish, the legs are fully extended, your shoulders are back, your elbows are flexed, and the oar handle is against the upper stomach. For the recovery, your knees don't flex until after your hands pass over your knees and your arms and shoulders reach forward to begin the catch phase again.
Because rowing is an impact-free activity, it can be a lifelong form of exercise. It is always best to exercise in your target heart rate zone (70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate).