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Can Indoor Rowing Help You Lose Weight?


Can Indoor Rowing Help You Lose Weight?

Let’s face it, ladies. Nearly all of us want to lose weight, even if it’s just a few pounds. A fun little machine called an indoor rower can help you do just that (and it will knock your metabolism into next week!).


Why Use an Indoor Rowing Machine?

I know, you’re probably thinking, “I can burn lots of calories on a treadmill or stair climber or spin class”, or whatever your favorite piece of equipment is, and you know what? You’re right.

So why use a rowing machine?

  1. Rowing is a full-body workout. While it’s true that spinning and treadmills burn nearly the same number of calories, you’ll still need to spend time working on your upper body. Other exercise machines only work your lower body as opposed to rowing, a full-body workout that uses 86% of your muscles every time you row!
  2. Rowing is easy on the joints. If you’ve got bad knees, arthritis, tight hips, or even back problems, rowing is a low-impact exercise that nearly everyone can do! This is also the perfect answer for those who are extremely overweight—no more worries about blowing out your knees when rowing since it is a non-weight-bearing exercise.
  3. Rowing burns major calories. It can be difficult to measure exactly how many calories you are burning because there are so many variables (even the room temperature can make a difference!). However, on average, a 200-pound female rowing at even a moderate pace will burn 225 calories every 20 minutes. This means if you spend at least a few minutes working hard, then work out moderately for 30 minutes and easily burn 500 calories or more.
  4. Rowing workouts are perfect for nearly everyone. Regardless of your age or fitness level, whether you’re a beginner, senior, or professional athlete, you can find a rowing workout that will benefit you and not leave you horrifically sore the next day.
  5. Rowing is easy on the body. For many overweight and older people, running, jogging, or stair climbing is a painful adventure on the joints, and it wears them out quickly. In comparison, you’re seated when rowing, which distributes your workout effort over nearly every muscle in the body. The result is that you can work out longer and not be as sore the next day.

There are many benefits to rowing, one of which is weight loss.


How to Use a Rowing Machine to Burn Fat and Calories

Nearly all rowing workouts will help you in your weight loss endeavors, but if you want to increase your fat-burning ability and get your metabolism running at top speed, HIIT workouts are your best bet.

For those who may not be familiar with this term, HIIT means High-Intensity Interval Training. All professional athletes do these types of workouts for a very good reason.

While scientists may not understand why, they do know that short bursts of exercise where you work as hard as you can, followed by short rest periods, cause the body to burn more fat than an ordinary workout.

This means you can do less (shorter) exercise and reap the same fat-burning rewards as those who exercise longer.


Sample HIIT Workout

One of the easiest HIIT workouts is a simple 1-and-1 workout.

  • Get on your rower and spend 1-minute rowing slowly as you warm up.
  • Next, spend 1 minute doing 20 SPM. Pull as hard as you can but take your time doing the recovery so that you hit that 20 SPM.
  • Rest for 1 minute. You can stop rowing completely, or you can just row very, very slowly.

Repeat this four times for a total of 8 minutes.

  • Now work at 22 SPM for 1 minute
  • Rest for 1 minute.

Repeat this four times for a total of 8 minutes. True beginners or those who haven’t exercised in years are probably ready to stop at this point.

  • Cool down by rowing very slowly for 2 minutes.

If you feel you can hold out a little longer, try another set of 4 where your stroke rate is 24 SPM.

  • This means you will row 24 SPM for 1 minute
  • Stop rowing for 1 minute.

Repeat this four times for a total of 8 minutes.

  • Now you can cool down by rowing very slowly for the next 2 minutes.

This seems like such as simple workout, doesn’t it? Trust me, you’ll be huffing and puffing and looking for the oxygen machine after just a few minutes. This super-effective workout will turn you into a fat-burning furnace!


You Can’t Exercise Your Way Out of a Donut

It should go without saying but let me say it anyway since I see so much of it.

You cannot exercise your way out of a poor diet.

The truth is that your diet is one of the main factors behind weight gain and weight loss. This is why people who are into keto diet lose tons of weight.

I’ve seen people do zero exercises but lose weight simply by going on keto. Unfortunately, this leaves them with flabby skin and no muscle tone.

For the best results, combine a healthy diet with exercise to keep those excess pounds off and have tight, toned muscles that you can be proud of.

Work on ditching about 500-600 calories per day. You can combine this any way you like—400 calories burned via exercise and 200 calories deducted from eating less, or burn off 300 calories through exercise and eat 300 calories less in food, etc.

This way, you build new muscle (which burns more calories than fat) and lose weight slowly and sensibly (which is more likely to stay off).

It’s not exciting. It’s not new, but this method is proven effective, and most people can stick with it.


The Bottom Line

Rowing workouts will give you tight, taut muscles that will make you confident to try just about anything.

You can safely exercise using a rowing machine and lose weight simultaneously, especially if you get HIIT workouts three or more times per week for about 20-40 minutes each time.

Eat a healthy diet 80 percent of the time, get in at least 100-150 minutes of exercise each week, and those pounds will fall away like water off a duck!

Be active and healthy, and have fun rowing!


Writer’s Bio

Written by Petra Amara, CEO & Founder of, National Rower, Coxswain Women’s Eight Team, Rowing Coach, Wife, Mother, and Writer

Petra started rowing at an early age, competed as a teen, joined the national team in senior high school, and coxed for a Women’s Eight team in college. She married into rowing when she met her husband, a pro rower, and began coaching soon after. That’s a lifetime of rowing, and she’s still going full speed!

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