How Effective Is a Rowing Machine for Weight Loss?

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how effective is a rowing machine

Whether you’re interested in losing weight, getting back into shape, or looking for a great cardio workout that builds muscle, there is really only one machine that can do all of the above.

You guessed it, a rowing machine!

Have you ever gone to the gym and the treadmills and stair climbers are all in use? You would think that those machines are the best around when it comes to exercise machines, but that isn’t true.

For all their popularity, rowing machines will do more for your body and heart than any other machine at the gym will.

It looks like that is all changing. Rowing machines are quickly becoming the choice machine (learn more). You’ll now see people lining up for the rowing machines at the gym, or more likely lately, buying one for their home.

In this article, I want to tell you about all the fantastic benefits that a rowing machine has to offer, especially in the area of weight loss. I think nearly everyone wants to lose at least a few pounds or tighten up those flabby legs and arms (learn more), right? And who doesn’t want killer abs?

Let’s talk about how rowing can give you everything you go to the gym for and then some.

Is Rowing a Good Way to Lose Weight?

You bet it is!

lady at gym learning how effective are rowing machines for weight loss

Rowing machine workouts are the most effective ways to burn a major number of calories and reach your fitness goals at the same time.

If you haven’t read it before, rowing is a full-body workout that uses about 86 percent of the muscles in the body. By its very nature, working every major muscle group means that your body will become a huge calorie burner.

You can break down a rowing workout in your mind to try to give yourself a better idea about what I’m talking about.

For example, walking is using your leg muscles, which means your leg muscles are burning calories.

Now imagine that you are lifting dumbbells with your arms. Your arms are now the ones using calories to do the work.

Picture yourself doing crunches. Your abs and back muscles are working, so those are chewing up calories to get the job done.

More Muscles Worked Equals More Calories Burned

Rowing involves ALL of the above at the same time. Are you getting the whole picture now? Every single muscle (well, maybe your eyelids and facial muscles aren’t working, but you know….) involved in a rowing workout is burning calories to get the stroke done.

how effective is a home rowing machine for losing weight

It’s pretty astounding, isn’t it?

Yes, a rowing machine will burn more calories than any other machine at the gym, even an assault bike. Why? Because an assault bike isn’t using your arms, back, or core muscles.

How Long Should You Work Out on a Rowing Machine to Lose Weight?

This is where things get complicated.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Calories Burned

There are so many factors that go into the number of calories you burn, including:

  • Your age
  • Your sex
  • Your current weight
  • How hard your workout is
  • How long your workout is
  • Your current fitness level
  • The temperature of the room

Estimating Calories Burned

You can use calculators to help you estimate your calorie burning progress, but nothing will be 100 percent accurate. Your calorie burn can also change from day to day!

how effective is a rower

Keeping that in mind, remember that some of the numbers I’m going to post are just general numbers that you can expect. Your actual calorie count and time required will probably be different.

Heavier People Will Lose Weight Faster

For those who are very overweight, you will find that dropping those extra pounds comes easily at first, but not without great effort.

If you are quite heavy, you will want to try rowing for a minimum of 15-20 minutes at least 5 days a week, but preferably 6.

For those who are moderately overweight, you should aim for 20-30 minutes at least 5 days per week.

Moderately Heavy People Need Longer Workouts

If you only have a few pounds to lose, you will find that you need to work harder or longer. You can alternate between steady rowing one day for a longer period of time (say, 45 minutes) and doing an explosive power workout the next day for a shorter period of time (say, 20 minutes).

Nearly everyone will benefit from rowing at a moderate pace for 20-30 minutes each day.

Remember that your diet counts as well, so eat lots of fruits and vegetables and ditch that sugar habit.

Is a Rowing Workout a Good Cardio Workout as Well?

It absolutely is!

While you might think that sitting on an indoor rowing machine means that you aren’t going to work hard, you’ve got another thing coming!

Good for the Heart and Lungs

Rowing machines are a great full-body workout that includes working your heart and lungs. In fact, rowing workouts can be such high-intensity workout that many beginners find that they are exhausted after about 5 minutes!

Don’t let that discourage you. Keep at it and try adding 1 minute every other day or every third day and you will be able to row the full 20-30 minutes in a couple of weeks.

Perfect for Overall Health

Rowing machines are extremely effective when it comes to improving your cardiovascular health, so if your doctor has told you to start getting some exercise to lose weight, build strength, or improve your cardiovascular health, then it’s time you started considering taking up rowing.

Do I Still Need Strength Training to Get a Full-Body Workout?

The answer to this one is yes and no.

Rowing already works both the upper and lower body and 86% of your muscles, so it DOES work the entire body. You don’t need to do strength training to benefit from a whole body workout. On the other hand, nothing should stop you from doing strength training if you like.

On your rest days, you can alternate with some other type of exercise, which can be anything from walking to swimming, dancing or yoga, or even strength training if that’s something you want to do.

However, since rowing activates all the major muscles in your body, if you aren’t a fan of other forms of strength training, such as weight lifting or resistance bands, you certainly don’t have to do it.

This is what makes rowing such a great workout! it’s everything you want all in one routine!

Rowing Machines Are High Intensity But Low Impact

I know that a great many people stop exercising and let their body’s muscles go to waste (literally), losing muscle mass year after year once they hit 40 or 50 because of health problems like arthritis.

Gentle on the Knees and Joints

My knees are certainly not what they were in my 20s, but that’s the best thing about rowing, it’s completely low impact, so you never have to worry about hurting your knees, elbows, hips, or even your lower back!

Strengthens Muscles Supporting the Joints

If you do the rowing stroke correctly, you will not only work both the upper and lower body, but you will also notice less joint pains. Rowing strengthens the muscles supporting your joints, and when the muscles are strong, there’s less pressure on the joints.

You don’t need to worry about going to the health clubs and not being able to use most of the machines. Instead, you can get your own home rowing machine, do your rowing workouts regularly, and aerobic fitness will follow.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, rowing has so much to offer that I don’t get why it’s taken this long for people to figure it out!

If you don’t own a rowing machine, you might want to check out the following and find out which type will work best for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, experienced or a newbie, injured or healthy, heavy or thin, rowing workouts can get you in the best shape you can possibly be in your life!

Stay happy and healthy! Keep rowing, friends!

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