Is 1 or 10 Harder on Rowing Machine

Is 1 or 10 Harder on Rowing Machine?

Rowing machines are popular fitness equipment that offers a full-body workout, simulating the action of rowing a boat.

When using a rowing machine, you can adjust the resistance level to match your fitness goals and capabilities. One common debate among fitness enthusiasts is whether it’s better to row at a resistance level of 1 or 10.

In this article, we will delve into this topic, exploring the differences between the two settings, the benefits they offer, and which one might be more suitable for different individuals.

Rowing Machine Resistance Settings: Explained

Rowing Machine Resistance Settings

Before we dive into the comparison, let’s understand how resistance settings work on a rowing machine:

Low Resistance (Setting 1): Setting the rowing machine at level 1 offers minimal resistance, making it easier to row. This setting is ideal for beginners or those recovering from injuries. It allows users to focus on mastering the proper rowing form and technique without straining their muscles excessively.

High Resistance (Setting 10): On the other hand, setting the rowing machine at level 10 provides maximum resistance, making it more challenging to row. This setting is suitable for advanced users and fitness enthusiasts who want to intensify their workouts and build strength and endurance.

The Difference in Muscle Engagement

When comparing the two resistance settings, the level of muscle engagement plays a crucial role. Let’s explore the differences:

Muscle Engagement at Setting 1: At level 1, the £200 rowing machine offers less resistance, resulting in a lower demand on your muscles. While this setting allows for a smooth and comfortable rowing experience, it may not provide enough stimulus for significant muscle development. However, it is an excellent starting point for beginners or those seeking a low-impact workout.

Muscle Engagement at Setting 10: Setting the rowing machine to level 10 significantly increases the resistance, demanding more from your muscles. This setting engages various muscle groups, including the legs, core, back, and arms, promoting muscle growth and overall strength development.

Finding Your Optimal Resistance Setting

The optimal resistance setting on a rowing machine varies from person to person, depending on their fitness level, goals, and physical condition. Here’s how to find the right setting for you:

Assess Your Fitness Level: If you are new to rowing or exercise, start with a lower resistance level, such as 1 or 2. As you become more comfortable with the motion and improve your stamina, gradually increase the resistance.

Define Your Fitness Goals: Determine whether you aim to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle strength, or both. For cardio-focused workouts, lower resistance settings are suitable, while muscle building requires higher resistance levels.

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to different resistance levels. If you feel pain or discomfort, decrease the resistance. On the other hand, if you find the workout too easy, consider raising the resistance to challenge yourself.

Benefits of Low Resistance Rowing (Setting 1)

Low Resistance Rowing

Rowing at a low resistance level has several benefits:

Low Impact: Setting 1 minimizes stress on joints and muscles, making it ideal for individuals with joint issues or recovering from injuries.

Cardiovascular Health: It provides a gentle cardiovascular workout, improving heart health and stamina.

Technique Practice: Beginners can focus on perfecting their rowing technique without feeling overwhelmed.

Active Recovery: It serves as an excellent active recovery option for athletes or individuals with intense workout routines.

Benefits of High Resistance Rowing (Setting 10)

Rowing at a high resistance level also offers numerous advantages:

Strength and Muscle Building: Setting 10 engages multiple muscle groups, promoting muscle growth and strength development.

Calorie Burn: The intense workout burns more calories, aiding in weight management and fat loss.

Endurance Improvement: Rowing at higher resistance levels enhances cardiovascular endurance.

Time Efficiency: Shorter, high-intensity sessions can yield effective results for busy individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can beginners use a resistance level of 10 on a rowing machine?

While beginners can try higher resistance settings, it’s recommended to start with lower levels to avoid muscle strain and improper form. Gradually increase the resistance as you gain experience and strength.

Which setting burns more calories?

Rowing at a higher resistance level (setting 10) burns more calories due to the increased muscle engagement and intensity of the workout.

Can rowing at lower resistance levels help with weight loss?

Yes, rowing at lower resistance levels can contribute to weight loss by improving cardiovascular health and burning calories. However, higher resistance settings can accelerate the process.

How long should a rowing session last?

The duration of a rowing session depends on individual fitness goals and endurance levels. A typical session can range from 20 to 60 minutes.

Is rowing suitable for individuals with back problems?

Rowing is generally considered a low-impact exercise, making it suitable for individuals with back issues. However, consulting a healthcare professional is essential before starting any exercise routine.

Can rowing at a low resistance level still improve fitness?

Absolutely! Rowing at lower resistance levels can improve cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall fitness, especially for beginners and those with physical limitations.


Ultimately, whether rowing at a resistance level of 1 or 10 is harder depends on your fitness level, goals, and personal preferences. Both settings offer unique benefits, and the key is to find the right balance that suits your individual needs. Beginners can start with lower resistance to build a strong foundation, while advanced users may opt for higher resistance to challenge their limits and achieve greater strength and endurance.

Remember, always listen to your body and progress gradually to avoid injury and optimize your rowing experience. Whether you choose to row at setting 1 or 10, consistent and dedicated workouts will undoubtedly lead to improved fitness and well-being.

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