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What is the proper rowing machine form to avoid developing a forward posture? Is the rowing machine an effective and safe exercise if you have osteoporosis? Can the rowing machine be used as a weight bearing exercise to build bone?

Is the Rowing Machine a Good Weight Bearing Exercise?

The rowing machine is not as popular as it used to be. I remember seeing people work out on the rowing machine in preparation for competitive racing.

It is not a great weight bearing exercise for osteoporosis, but it provides a good cardio workout and, when performed correctly, does reinforce movement from the hip and knees rather than the spine. I demonstrate the guidelines on how to perform this exercise safely and effectively in the video above. Take a look!

Rowing Machine Improve Posture

Some clients ask me if the rowing machine can improve posture. The short answer is that when done properly it can contribute to strengthening back muscles which, in turn, can improve posture. However, I recommend to clients who want a perfect posture, that they do specific exercises targeted at that objective. This particular important for people who want to get rid of a Dowager’s Hump.

Further, if the rowing machine exercise is done incorrectly, it can compromise your form and make your posture worse.

However, pay attention to your form and, in particular, your posture as you use the the machine.

You should be mindful of you form and alignment in order to avoid compromising your posture. This is especially important if you have osteoporosis and are at risk of a compression fracture.

I encourage you to incorporate the rowing machine into your exercise program.

Reasons to Use the Rowing Machine

Here are two key reasons why you should consider the rowing machine as part of your exercise program:

  1. If you use proper form, you will reinforce movement from the hip and knees rather than the spine  (important to avoid a compression fracture).
  2. It will also help you improve your cardiovascular health and overall strength. When you are stronger, you are in a better position to resist or counter a fall.
rowing machine form


Here are a the key instructions for safe and effective use of the rowing machine:

  1. Be careful with you foot placement when you get into the machine and avoid compromising your posture
  2. Keep a nice straight back while using the machine
  3. Avoid slouching by keeping long in the front and mindful of the space between your pelvis and your rib cage
  4. Activate the muscles between your shoulder blades
  5. Pull back with each row
  6. Be careful not to compromise your breathing

To learn more about a comprehensive exercise program for osteoporosis, I encourage you to consider my Exercise for Better Bones program. It has many exercises that improve bone strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility and balance.


Can you use the rowing machine as a weight bearing exercise and build bone? The answer is “not quite”. The reality is that there are much better exercise alternatives (identified in my book, Exercise for Better Bones).

However, the exercise has many benefits, particularly as it relates to cardiovascular health and movement around the hips and knees (as opposed to the spine).

However, you need to pay particular attention to your form. The instructions and video on form above provide directions how to achieve your goals and stay healthy.

Osteoporosis Exercise Plan

Visit my Osteoporosis Exercise Plan page for more information on this topic.


September 25, 2021 at 11:54am

Carolyn Busch

I have a simple rowing machine. i have borderline osteoporosis-osteopenia in L1 and L2 of spine and also in hips. I have been using my rowing machine; I'm 79, is it safe to use if I go easy on it? I need to build muscle on legs and arms.