rowing vs running

Rowing Versus Running: What Are The Differences? Which Is Better?

When it comes to exercising, perhaps you are no stranger to the activity at all. You do not seem to have a problem getting up and out each morning to start your day with a high-intensity workout, only to have it help get you throughout the rest of the day with no sweat (literally and figuratively). Your passion to sports is limitless, and you cannot imagine yourself a day without exercising.

That said, perhaps you are interested in picking up some new activities to get you into even better shape than before. In other words, you would like to try your hand at rowing and running, but you are not sure just where to start. Also, you are wondering about their health benefits, whether they are different or more similar than you might have imagined. There are a lot of factors that you are looking into, but have no idea where to start.

Have no fear, though: we are here to help! In this article, we will give you all the information you need to know about rowing versus running, from health benefits to muscles worked and everything in between. We will also give you tips on how to get started picking which one will suit you the best, as well as possible workouts to inspire you. Soon enough, you can assure yourself that you will get into top shape possible.

Let’s get started!


What are the differences between rowing and running?

First things first, it is essential to step back and think about just what makes rowing and running distinctive from each other. By taking the time to look into the muscles built, as well as the pros and cons to each sport, you can then have a better idea of which one would best suit you. Here are some things to keep in mind about rowing and running:


· Works out the entire body.

While you might assume that rowing is merely restricted to arm and shoulder movement, you are wrong in that aspect. In fact, rowing works both upper and lower body, targeting muscles that we list here down below:

Works out the entire body
o Calves.

Often associated with running, calves are also worked while rowing. Even as you are sitting down, your calf muscles contract and relax each time you push back and forth through the waters. Although not strengthened to the same extent as running, your calves will definitely show some definition after a while.

o Quadriceps and hamstrings.

Similar to your calves, your quadriceps and hamstrings on your upper leg contract and relax while in action. Both are used to stabilize yourself when pushing forward against the water, so having strong leg muscles are important for your rowing success.

o Glutes.

Although you might be sitting down for the most part during rowing, your glutes also work to keep yourself in place even through the most grueling upper body workouts. Your glutes are forced to stay balanced, which leads to the muscles working hard, thereby leaving you with a strong (and attractive) rear end to call your own.

o Abdominal muscles.
Abdominal muscles

You might not think that your core muscles will be targeted in rowing, but little did you know that they will. After all, you will be breathing heavily, as well as needing force to keeping your arms moving throughout the entire duration. In the process, you end up strengthening your abs, which makes it all the easier (and more attractive) to keep on going.

o Deltoids.

Also commonly known as the shoulder muscles, it comes as no surprise that your deltoids will be worked to the max. Considering that you are moving with a circular motion in your row strokes, your deltoids will be fortified in the process.

o Biceps.

With each stroke pulled, you end up targeting your biceps, which are at the front of your upper arm. Perhaps you have felt the area rather sore the following day, which goes to show just how hard they are being worked.

· Better on your joints.

Rowing is known to be a low-impact workout, since it does not require a lot of pounding against hard surfaces unlike running. Instead of working against gravity, you are moving with it. Rowing is an especially popular sport to turn to when recovering from an injury, as means of keeping yourself in shape otherwise.

Of course, like with any sport, overdoing it is never a good thing—the same goes for rowing. Keep the workouts to a set number of times per day, as well as making sure to stretch before and after each workout. Make an effort to maintain a steady, good form so as to prevent pulled muscles or injuries from happening.

· Teaches teamwork.

Teaches teamwork

Unlike running, which can be done on your own, rowing almost always involves the company of others in order to move across the water. After all, you cannot do it on your own without feeling incredibly exhausted (to the point of burn-out) in the end.

Even further, having teammates instills good sportsmanship: especially if you tend to be shy and nervous around people, being on a rowing team helps you to break out of that shell and become friendlier and more outgoing. You will also make great friendships along the way, as all of you continue to be passionate about rowing and exercise.

· Develops control and motivation.

While running also gives you that sense of drive and motivation, rowing goes beyond that by training you to be in control of your movements, from each stroke you make to the rhythm count with the rest of your team.

In the process, rowing helps you to develop a sense of self-control and discipline, which makes it easier for me to roll out of bed each morning to practice rowing. In other words, rowing creates consistency, which can help you get through day-to-day activities with ease in your life.

For more benefits of rowing, check out this video here: 


· Enhances the lower body.

Although running tends to focus more on the lower body muscles, nevertheless it enhances them a lot, to the point of keeping yourself stable whenever you are up and about. Here are some muscles worked in running:

o Quadriceps and hamstrings.

Each stride in running works out these two muscles situated in the front and the back of your thighs, respectively. The quadriceps are worked whenever you extend your knee, while the hamstrings are worked when you are in midstride, thereby causing them to flex. You can bet that your upper legs will be tough and muscular at the end of the day.

o Glutes.

Especially if you are going up an incline, e.g. hill, slope, your glutes, aka butt muscles, are working hard. They expand and contract with each step you take while going uphill, working with your hip flexors to ensure that you are well-stabilized and able to make it to the top.

o Calves.

One of the most prominent muscles worked in running, the calf muscles are particularly pushed when going up and down hills. You end up building resistance to these lower leg muscles, thereby giving you a toned look and making it easier for you to get around places in your everyday life.

· Requires little equipment.

Requires little equipment

Compared with rowing, running does not require you to have much equipment in order to achieve your fitness goals. Whereas rowing requires paddles and/or a rowing machine (which can be costly), running only requires a good pair of comfortable running shoes and plenty of motivation to run frequently.

Not only is it less expensive, but also it makes for a more convenient sport to do—all you need to do is lace up and head out the door within minutes to get into excellent shape!

· Burns more calories.

While rowing is certainly a strenuous activity, it is not as aerobically-heavy as it is the case with running. In fact, rowing is more of a strengthening workout, and so running ends up burning calories faster than rowing. On average, running burns 20 percent more calories each hour than rowing, which added up makes a huge difference in just how much muscle you generate, as well as energy expended.

· Stimulates faster metabolism.

Considering that it is an aerobic sport, running ends up generating faster metabolism in the body. As a result, you end up burning calories even long after you complete the workout, thereby speeding up the toning process of your body. You also have the excuse to load up on more food (ideally, rich in protein and carbohydrates) to keep yourself fueled for the next workout to come!

For more benefits associated with running, check out this video here: 

Which sport better suits me?

Now that you have a better idea of the muscles worked, as well as the benefits and drawbacks to both rowing and running, it is now time to consider just which one you would like to pursue as your primary sport. Choosing the best one for you requires some more reflecting, and here, we provide just a few details that will assist you in picking rowing or running:

1. Affordability.

As previously discussed, rowing requires more equipment than running, which means paying more money to purchase them for working out. While it is possible to get them for a decent price, rowing machines, paddles, and boats can cost easily several hundreds of dollars, perhaps even more if you want them brand-new.

If you have the money and the interest in rowing, then by all means it is worth the investment. However, if you are tight on money and you are not so interested in it as much as running, then running will serve you better. Some running shoes (especially name-brand ones like Nike) might cost a bit, but never more than a hundred dollars for several months of effective, productive jogging (and a lifetime of being in excellent shape!).

2. Past injuries.

Considering that rowing is known for being a low-impact sport, it might be a good choice to look into if you have a history of injuries associated with lower body joint pain, especially caused by running. Rather than continuing to put stress on the weaken body part, rowing transfers the workout to the upper body, while also keeping the hamstrings and glutes strengthened, albeit without the amount of pounding from running.

On the other hand, if you have pulled your arm muscles or dislocated your shoulders from rowing, then taking a break from the sport will help you recover. Running can help with that, as it brings the focus of muscle development to the lower body, instead of the upper. In the end, it depends on where you have been injured, and merely working to concentrate on another region instead while it recovers.

Perform foot-pain relieving exercises

3. Convenience.

This point refers to the amount of time and willingness you can spend on working out. With running, it is one of the most convenient sports to do, since you can have either little or plenty of time to lace up and hit the road for anywhere between 10 to 60 minutes of running.

For rowing, however, it takes a bit more time to set up equipment, row, and pack up afterwards: it is no wonder that rowers work out in the early morning to allow themselves enough time to get in a solid workout. That said, you will need to see how much time you have, which will then determine which sport to pursue.


All in all, rowing and running are both excellent sports to consider investing your time and effort in. Both work out different body muscles, but all the same get you into great shape. Choosing between these two sports can be tough, but by considering just what you are interested in, as well as factors like time and money, will guide you to the sport that you will end up doing, as well as enjoying, in the end.

We would love to read your comments down below. Feel free to share this article with friends and family, should they want to get started with exercise!


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