Low-impact exercise is an ideal form of exercise for people who are looking to reduce their risk of injury or who may be recovering from an injury. Some examples of low-impact exercises are swimming, cycling, Pilates, and beginner-friendly yoga.

Just like these exercises, rowing is also a great a low-impact workout that activates numerous important muscle groups by simulating the rowing stroke is provided by a rowing machine.

However, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up and try something new. Whether you’re looking for an alternative option due to joint issues or want to change up your fitness routine, there are plenty of options to choose from.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to seven alternatives to rowing machines that offer a similar cardiovascular and strength training experience. 

7 Easy And Effective Rowing Machine Alternatives

1. Barbell High Row

Barbell High Row

Although the high barbell row is frequently thought of as a back workout, it engages muscles all over the body. Bodybuilders, strength-training athletes, and regular people who wish to go through their day more easily and steadily can all benefit from the high barbell row.


  • Slightly bend the knees, tilting forward while hunching at the hips and pulling the glutes back.
  • As you get ready to row, bend down and take an overhand grip on the barbell. The knees should be bent, and the back should be robust and flat. Try to maintain a steady stare. On the bar, the hands should be positioned shoulder-width apart. Just a few inches should separate your shoulders from your hips.
  • To raise the barbell towards the body, exhale and tighten your middle back and shoulder blades. The elbows will rise up and bend back diagonally. The bar barely touches your lower ribcage at its highest height.
  • Repeat by releasing the bar gradually until the arms are fully extended.

2. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

The dumbbell rear delt row is a relatively simple exercise with a modest skill ceiling that just needs one dumbbell and a flat surface to lean against to get into position.

Your rear delts will be highlighted during the dumbbell rear delt row. Use low weights and concentrate on making muscle contact with your rear delts in order to avoid cheating or swinging the weights overhead.


  • Dumbbells should be placed in each hand in front of you as you begin by lying on a flat bench.
  • Lift the dumbbells gradually until your elbows are slightly above your shoulders.
  • As soon as you are in the ultimate posture, hold it for a count while contracting your muscles.
  • As many reps and sets as needed should be performed by starting from the starting position and repeating.

3. Reverse Pec Deck Fly

Reverse Pec Deck Fly

The muscles that the machine’s horizontal flies targets depend on how you position while using it. You’ll target the chest muscles or the back and rear delts when using the pec deck machine in its regular posture.


  • The pec deck machine’s handles should be adjusted to the reverse fly position.
  • Place your chest against the pad as you sit on the machine.
  • Your shoulders should be in front of the machine’s handles.
  • Straighten your arms in front of you, and at shoulder height, grasp the handles with an overhand or neutral grip.
  • Throughout the exercise, keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • By tensely clenching your rear delts, extend your arms in a reverse fly motion.
  • At the peak, your elbows should be positioned behind your torso.
  • Take a moment to pause and tighten your rear delts, then slowly resume your starting posture.
  • Repeat as many times as advised.

4. Face Pulls

Face Pulls

Face pulls concentrate on the posterior shoulder deltoids, which are frequently missed by conventional shoulder workouts. The weight is pulled directly toward your forehead using a cable pulley device.

Rear delt exercises benefit in various ways, such as it reduces muscular imbalance, increasing total shoulder strength, reducing back pain, etc.


  • The pulley system should be positioned just above your head when using a cable pulley machine. Utilize the two-hand-hold rope attachment.
  • Hands should be palms facing in as you hold the handles. Step back until your arms are fully extended, then tighten your abs and sway back a little, angling your body at a 20-degree angle.
  • To begin raising the weight off the stack, just slightly pull the rope toward you. Then, tense your shoulders and roll them back to maintain proper posture.
  • Straighten the attachment’s handles so they point at your forehead and pull. Keep your palms facing to work the back delts while extending your elbows to the sides.
  • Reverse the motion and extend your arms slowly without letting your chest or shoulders drift forward. During the exercise, you want to have a straight posture.

5. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell Swings

The strength and power of kettlebells are well known. Swinging a kettlebell is a low-impact, high-intensity exercise that can help you become stronger, more explosive, and more cardio-fit.

These characteristics of kettle bell make them a great substitute in various exercises like Romanian deadlift, traditional barbell bench press, dumbbell rows, traditional barbell squats, etc.  


  • Holding a kettlebell with your hands and arms straight down, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bring the kettlebell between your legs, inhale, push your hips back, and gently flex your knees.
  • To raise your body into a standing position, exhale, tighten your glutes, and push your hips forward. Swing the kettlebell as far as it can naturally go with your arms. Your objective should be parallel to the ground or at shoulder height. It could take a few swings to find your rhythm and maximize the lift.
  • Inhale, drive your hips back, and gently bend your knees as you descend the kettlebell between your legs.
  • Repeat

6. Resistance Bands

Resistance Bands

Although resistance bands are fantastic for people who want to work out at home or bring their exercises with them when they travel, their benefits don’t stop there.

These low-tech workout equipment provide a lot of advantages, such as adaptability, practicality, safety, and efficacy.

Resistance bands are an excellent standalone exercise tool, but they can also be used in conjunction with other pieces of fitness gear.

You’ll get the advantages of each piece of exercise equipment if you perform bicep curls with a resistance band and a dumbbell. Resistance bands can be used for a variety of workouts, including the front squat, prone (lying) leg curl, lateral band walk, etc.

7. T-Bar Row

T-Bar Row

You can pull from the biomechanically strongest posture possible with a neutral grip on the T-bar row, which is palms facing each other.

T-bars are superior to bent-over rows since they don’t require palms down, as with bent-over rows. T-bar rows also have an advantage over dumbbell rows since you can carry more weight by using both hands.


  • Put the empty end of a barbell into the room’s corner.
  • To hold it down, place a hefty dumbbell or some weight plates on top of it.
  • Straddle the bar after packing the opposite end with dishes.
  • With your arms extended, squat down until your torso forms a roughly 45-degree angle to the ground.
  • With both hands, hold a V-grip handle by hooking it beneath the bar.
  • Pull the bar until the plates are touching your chest while maintaining the natural arch of your lower back.

Benefits Of Doing Rowing Machine Alternatives

1. Does a Full-Body Workout

Commonly held misconception: Rowing substitutes don’t work your arms. Actually, they give your whole body a workout. Your pecs, arms, stomach, obliques, and the rest of your upper body muscles are all strengthened by them. The main muscle groups it targets are the glutes, calves, and quadriceps.

2. Builds Better Posture

Rowing is one of the best activities for building back muscle. Exercises that involve rowing lessen the strain on the spine, enhance posture, get rid of poor habits and enhance the spine’s biomechanics.

3. Burns More Calories

You’ll work out your entire body, working for all the major muscle groups while also getting good cardio and strength exercise.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), a type of brief, intense exercise, is known to improve heart function and post-exercise oxygen consumption. In other words, even after your workout, you’ll continue to burn calories.

Final Thoughts

An indoor rower is a great, albeit expensive, fitness machine for total-body training. But if you are unable to obtain one, there is no need to panic.

Despite being a great piece of equipment, a rowing machine, it’s always helpful to have some alternatives. These exercises replicate the cardiovascular advantages of the rowing machine while targeting the same muscles. Most of them also let you add more weight.

Frequently Asked Questions

The several rowing machine alternatives that can be used in small spaces are as follows resistance bands, stationary bikes, compact elliptical machines, compact treadmills, and water rowers.

Some portable rowing machines that can be used at home or on the go are as follows:

  • Rowing machines with compact designs and folding frames
  • Rowing machines with wheels
  • Rowing machines with removable seats
  • Rowing machines with built-in resistance
  • Bodyweight rowing exercises

A treadmill or stationary bike is designed for cardiovascular workouts; they cannot provide similar effects to a rowing machine. Rowing is a full-body exercise, whereas a treadmill or stationary bike primarily works the muscles in your lower body and can be less effective at engaging your upper body muscles.

Rowing machine alternatives that can be suitable for people with injuries or mobility issues include ellipticals, water rowing, resistance bands, or towels

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