Rower’s Body: How to Get It? (What Science Says)

If you are into training, you can resort to rowing. Rowing can be done in two different ways- either in the water or on the machine.

Rowing is a sport that has been gaining popularity over the time. What is gaining more popularity is the kind of physique that rowers sport.

Many fitness lovers and enthusiasts are aiming for the kind of body that rowers have. This article will give you an insight into the rower’s physique and the things you need to maintain in order to achieve that kind of body.

The kind of body that rowers have does not only look aesthetically appealing, but is also a healthy choice to opt for. Read on to know more about the rower body.

What Is The Ideal Rower’s Body?

What Is The Ideal Rower's Body
Image: Corepics Vof /

There is a certain body type that we associate with the different kinds of sports. Some of the hallmarks of a rower’s body are:

  • Their back muscles are visibly strong.
  • Their legs are toned and pretty tough.
  • Their hips are wide, both in male and female rowers.

A rower has a kind of physique that is lean yet very powerful. They have backs and biceps that are very well-developed.

This will help to optimize the performance of the rower on the rowing machine. This also helps to supplement with the weight training that is aimed at targeting the muscles that are directly associated with rowing.

As has been seen in the male participants of the Norwegian Championship Medallists who have participated between 1970-2001, it has been seen that the average height of the rowers mostly vary between 191-192 cm. This can lead us to the conclusion that rowing is mostly taken up by tall individuals.

Although bulging biceps and broad shoulders are among the prominent features of rowers, it is not like the rest of their body will be devoid of muscles. This is because rowing activities help to activate all the muscles all over the body. That will be evident in the kind of physique that they have.

Another remarkable feature of a rower’s body is that the hips will appear wide, disregarding whether the rower is a male or a female. This is because their glutes are immensely strong. They also have legs that are toned and tough. Their back muscles are also visibly strong.

Despite the muscles being prominent, rowers have a lean structure. This makes them appear like a smaller version of a bodybuilder.

Rowers Are Tall

Studies and trends have shown that it is mainly tall individuals who are involved in rowing activities. As has been observed in the male medalists in the Norwegian Championship between the years 1970-2001, the height ranges between 191-192 cm.

As has been analysed in American Olympian rowers of 1992, the average height for males was 194.1 cm while that of females was 178.6 cm.

However, according to the World’s Leading Rowing Sport Science and Medicine Conference, 2015 that took place in Marlow, UK, it was stated that in the 1800s, champion rowers were shorter than those who participated 1970 onwards.

Hence, it can be concluded that the height of the rowers has increased gradually. 

Rowers Have Long Limbs

Rowers Have Long Limbs
Image: Fedarovich /

It has been seen that rowers usually have long limbs. This proves to be an added advantage. It is not only about being tall, but about determining the length of the different body segments.

When a rower has long limbs, the long legs and arms help to increase the leverage to apply force on the blade and the foot stretcher as compared to the rowers who have short legs and arms.

The arm span, which is also referred to as body length, is measured so as to determine the mechanical advantage that the long arms will have when force is applied on the blade.

Studies have also shown that the ideal kind body of a rower should be tall and have long limbs.

They Have Lean And Total Body Mass

Tall rowers are ideally believed to be heavier rowers. Therefore, the improvements that are seen in the performance of a rower is due to the height of the rower and the length of the limbs of the rowers. These features help to create mechanical advantage.

Not only this, but these features also result in contractions of the muscles so that joint torque can be created and the joint can actually be moved  and the rower can apply force on the blade and the foot stretcher.

Studies have also shown that in case of female rowers, an increase in the total body mass and lean body mass helps to increase the rowing performance. This improves the power outputs.

Rowers Have Great Efficiency

Rowing involves the muscles of all over your body and improves their health, including the muscles of the legs, arms, back, and the core. It also affects the muscles of the blood vessels and the heart.

Unlike activities like cycling or running, rowing utilizes a large number of muscle groups in the lower as well as the upper body right from the first stroke. This helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system and the heart.

This is a full-body experience which makes rowing a great exercise that improves cardiovascular health. The cardiovascular exercises challenge the heart and push it to pump harder so that the blood flow can be increased.

As a result of this, the cardiovascular system of a rower becomes healthy. It also improves heart health and eliminates the risk of suffering from heart attacks.

Apart from these, there are some more things that you need to be aware about. If you want to row more efficiently, you will have to follow small tricks like driving through heels while sitting up tall.

Nevertheless, you need not stress about getting every little detail on point. It takes time to attain perfection; and it’s absolutely fine!

Ideal Rower’s Physique Stats

There are some measurements that are ideally suited for a rower. The list below shows the physical measurements of some of the popular rower so that you can derive an idea in general.

Ideal Rower’s Physique


Year of Winning




Mahé Drysdale

Olympic Gold Single Sculls 2012-2016; Bronze in 2008

2 mtr



99 kg


Steve Redgrave

Won Olympics 5 times- 1984-2000

1.95 mtr

103 kg


Helen Glover

Olympic Champion 2 times

1.78 mtr

70 kg


Olaf Tufte

Won 2021 Thomas Keller Medal

1.93 mtr

95 kg


James Cracknell

Olympic Gold In Rowing

1.93 mtr

98 kg


Caroline Lind

Won Olympic Gold twice

1.83 mtr

79 kg


Hope this gives you an idea about the kind of measurements that you can expect to see in an ideal rower body.

If you are planning to get a body like a rower, try to get a body that has similar measurements.

How To Get A Rower’s Body?

How To Get A Rower's Body

Even if you are a beginner, you can easily sport a body like a professional rower. Stated below are some of the tips that will guide you through the procedure and allow you to get a lean and chiseled body like a rower:

You Have To Stick To A Clean Diet To Get Lean

It has been seen that rowers have very minimal fat and ample muscles. This, however, does not mean that you will have to cut down on all the food that you love and adhere only to salads. Instead, you need to make a start by shedding excess weight.

Trainers say that it is ideal that rowers do not put on too much weight, because that might mask the muscle. However, shedding weight will not happen simply by lifting the weights.

It is also important to take care of one’s diet. You should strictly abstain from consuming food that are calorie-dense, fatty, and fried food items on a regular basis. Here are some of the key takeaways that will help you maintain a rich diet:

  • You should consume slow burning carbohydrates in adequate quantities in order to fuel the amount of cardio exercises that you are indulging in.
  • You should also add sufficient protein to your diet so that they can help the worn-out body muscles to recover.
  • Water in adequate quantities is also important to make up for the loss that happens through sweating.

You need to focus on food items that are rich in healthy fats and lean proteins like lean beef, non-fried chicken, fatty salmon, eggs, and so on. If you are trying to take in some energy from your diet, try to consume carbohydrates like potatoes and rice.

The catch should be to fuel the performance of the body while making sure that you do not add more fat to your diet.

If you are craving snacks, you can opt for something energy-dense that will help you meet the daily requirements of your body without adding to the volume of your body. For this, you can add food items like:

  • Flavored yogurts
  • Muesli bar and cereals
  • Fruit muffins that are low in fat
  • Muffins, bread, or fruit loaf which will have a paste of honey, jam, or peanut paste

If you are craving drinks, you can opt for juice or sports drinks. These should satisfy your nutritional requirement.

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Indulge In Rowing Activities

How do you achieve that amazing rower body? Well, you can get into rowing. To indulge in the activity, you can either use your rowing machine and perform rowing exercises under your gym trainer’s supervision, or join a rowing club.

In the gym, there will be a myriad of rowing machines and a number of pros and cons associated with each one of them.

Talk to your gym trainer and go for the machine that you will be the most comfortable to use. Once you are set, begin rowing in slow, but short, steady bursts of movement. However, make sure that you do not tire yourself out during the procedure.

Aerobic Training Sessions

If you are unsure about what “aerobic” training means, let us use cardio as a substitute term. Aerobic training sessions are those that can challenge the cardiovascular system and allow it to function better.

In these training sessions, the body is forced to deliver blood that is rich in oxygen from the lungs. This will help in the contraction of the muscles. Such exercises not only prepare your body for larger volumes of exercises, but also help in speedy recovery of the body.

The Rowing Should Be Supplemented With Weight Training

You need to incorporate exercises in your training routine that can enhance your performance by targeting the same muscles. Some of the common exercises that trainers should recommend to rowers to perform alternatively are deadlifts, dumbbell rows, bent-over barbell rows, kettlebell swings, chest-supported rows, and so on.

As for these weight training, you need to incorporate a larger weight and perform more reps in order to increase your endurance capacity.

All the exercises can be highly beneficial because they can target the biceps, shoulders, and many other primary back muscles such as the lower traps and the lats.

Pay Attention To Core Training

What will you do with a strong back if you do not have a strong core to accompany it? Rowing places a lot of pressure on your lower back and may cause it to get fatigued.

Rowers usually do not have great abs or small waists. Nevertheless, they possess a powerful core which is extremely strong. This does not only impart an aesthetic appeal to your body, but also enhances your strength and power.

It also helps to extend support to the lumbar spine, which is quite prone to fatigue when you row for a long time.

Some simple exercises that can strengthen the core of an individual are:

  • Crunches
  • V-sit and V-ups
  • Elbow plank twists
  • Bridge
  • Plank

Rowers have to maintain a spine that is relatively neutral. They also need to keep their pelvis upright as they move their hips and legs along the slide.

You can indulge in exercises more than just crunches and sit ups. The more challenges you add to your workout, the better it is for your body. Crunches and planks are excellent ways in which you can enhance your core strength.

Training The Glutes

Glutes are an important component of your body. Trainers stress on performing squats mainly because squats help to strengthen the glutes and glutes account for the overall strength of the body.

When you perform rowing, your glutes are involved in the activity. When you slide back with the help of a rowing machine, your glutes remain highly engaged. Therefore, it is important to make it a point that you incorporate exercises in your exercise routine that will target the glutes and strengthen them.

Some exercises that will help you accomplish this goal are kettlebell squat, bodyweight squat, goblet squat (either without or with a weight).

You can add variations to your exercise routine and get creative with them. The aim is to challenge your muscles in the most appropriate way and derive the most benefit out of your exercise.

Training The Legs

When you are preparing for a rower’s body, it is important to make sure that you train your legs adequately.

They are an important part of the physique of a rower. Be it rowing in water or on a rowing machine, your legs are sure to face resistance. It takes a lot of endurance to keep up with the exercising. This helps in the building of muscles.

  • If you are looking forward to exercises that will strengthen your legs, you can resort to exercises that people perform for their glutes such as lunges and squats. Some other exercises that one can try are bridges, step-ups, squats, leg extension, leg curl and so on.

These exercises are sure to increase your endurance capacity of your legs and help you get better at rowing.

Enhancing The Stamina Using Intervals

Enhancing The Stamina Using Intervals
Image: Kaspars Grinvalds /

When you train for rowing, you have to train your body in such a manner that you can continue for rowing races of varying lengths.

Rowers need to incorporate aerobic training exercises in their training sessions as they need to prepare their bodies to sustain high intensities. Anaerobic training sessions include exercises of high intensity that are altered with periods of some minutes of rest. Repeat the process as many times as you can.

Did you know that incorporating HIIT workouts can really help to boost your stamina? First you have to train at the fullest intensity for five minutes, and then take a break of 40 seconds. After you have taken a short 40-seconds break, indulge in another five minutes of exercising. Gradually increase the time of your exercise, and you will do great!

Over time, you will be able to increase the time of your exercise considerably. This will improve your overall athletic performance. If you are a beginner, you might only be able to do intense workout for one or two minutes, and that is absolutely fine. There has to be a point where you start from; let this be it.

Alongside all these, rowers also need to work on the flexibility of their bodies. Rowing requires flexibility of the hips, hamstrings, and the ankle should have a good range of motion.

It is ideally suggested to get in touch with a physiotherapist in order to identify the shortcomings and then get started by working on them!

How Long Does It Take To Get A Rower’s Body?

Once you start rowing, you will be able to see visible changes in 3-4 weeks, which will become even more prominent after 90 days.

If you are indulging in any kind of athletic activity, the first thing that you need to remember is that consistency is the key.

Rowing is a cardio exercise that can help to strengthen your body.

To mention again, make sure you do not skip your exercise sessions. This will help to deliver the results better. When exercise is coupled with a good diet, it is definitely going to fetch you great benefits.

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The Bottom Line

Therefore, if you want to get that rower’s physique, you will not only have to opt for training in rowing, but also train the key muscles that will enable smooth movements during rowing.

How frequently you row, the resistance that acts on your body, and the length of your workout, also play a role in determining your build and your performance.

You should mix your training in such a way that you are able to build a powerful back, a core that is rock solid, and legs that are well-developed. Hope this article was insightful and will help you get the desired body shape you want.