How Many Calories Does Rowing Burn?

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How many calories does a rowing machine burn?

If you’ve tried to Google how many calories you can burn using a rowing machine, you certainly are not alone, and if you’ve been frustrated by the results, you are also in very good company.

The truth is, you can’t nail a number to the exact calories per hour that you burn on a rowing machine. You can burn more than 800 calories per hour or a quarter of that number, depending on how much you weigh, how vigorously you row, and a few other factors.

That doesn’t mean you can’t figure it out, it only means that you need to take a little time, read this article, and then use my little-known method for calculating the number of calories YOU will burn while doing your rowing workouts.

For people with bad knees, low back pain, or other joint issues, a rowing machine is the best low-impact workout of them all. If you thought that you could never lose weight due to painful joints or injury, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that nearly everyone can use a rowing machine to get back into shape and burn hundreds of calories per hour.

So, do you want to know the amount of calories you burn on a rowing machine? Keep reading and find out!

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How Many Calories Do You Burn on a Rowing Machine?

Rowing is perhaps the most perfect exercise routine, especially when it comes to weight loss and burning more calories while you get an entire full-body workout. So why is it so difficult to get an exact answer to this question then?

lady check scales to see how many calories do you burn rowing

This is because there are several variables that can change the amount of calories you burn when using a rowing machine.

There are three factors that will drastically change that calorie burn number, including:

  1. Your Weight- The heavier a person is, the harder they have to work to move their body. The harder you work, the more calories you burn. Let’s take this example. According to Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound person can burn up to 255 calories of vigorous indoor rowing for 30 minutes. Compare this to 369 calories burned by another person weighing 155 pounds for the same activity and duration, and 440 calories by one who weighs 185 pounds.
  2. The Duration of the Rowing Machine Workout- This seems fairly obvious, but using a rowing machine for 20 minutes will burn fewer calories than rowing for 40 minutes, with the EXCEPTION of item #3…
  3. Intensity- You can do a relaxing rowing workout, you can do a “barely breaking a sweat” workout, or you can go all out with a super HIIT rowing workout. The intensity at which you row will make a huge difference. In the same Harvard source, for instance, if you weigh 125 pounds and do a moderate 30-minute rowing workout, you’ll only burn around 210 calories compared to 255 calories when you row with vigorous effort.

lady reading monitor on machine to see how many calories burned rowing

So you see, the amount of calories you burn on a rowing machine depends on your current weight and the intensity and duration of your workout.

Let’s check out the number of calories that a 185-pound person burns when rowing different distances.

Calories Burned & Rowing Machine Distance Calculator

You may want to know the number of calories burned while rowing a certain number of meters rather than the time spent on a rower. Like we’ve always said, the amount of calories you burn depends on your body weight, intensity, and duration of the workout. With that, we used this online calculator to estimate the calories burned.

To get a better picture, let’s illustrate this with a 185-pound person as an example. If this person does some moderate rowing over different distances with rowing times as listed below, the number of calories he or she burns will be:

Remember that these calorie estimates are for moderate intensity. If you row more vigorously, then the calorie burn will be much higher. Also, if you weigh less than 185 pounds, the number of calories burned will be less.

The calculations are also based on the assumption that there’s little variation in your split-time over long distances, which is highly unlikely for the daunting 10K row. It will drain you not only physically but also mentally. If you take anything from 50 minutes to 1 hour to do 10k, don’t lose heart! Practice more and have a strategy.

How Many Calories Does Indoor Rowing Burn?

man at gym check monitor to see how many calories does a rower burn

The truth is that you can burn calories just as easily with an indoor rowing machine as you can out in the water.

Nearly all rowing machines you can buy today are equipped with a monitor that tells you the number of calories you burn. The great thing about these monitors is that if you start off at a moderate intensity and then you change to rowing vigorously, the monitors keep track of resistance and the calories you burn.

Using the same calculator, let’s see how much you’ll burn based on the number of minutes when rowing moderately versus rowing vigorously. Our assumptions are: you’re rowing uniformly over time, and you weigh 185 pounds.

Of course, everyone is different, and what seems like a moderate pace to some will seem like vigorous rowing to a beginner. This is where a rowing machine data monitor can help you burn more calories. Find more about this below.

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How to Burn the Most Calories with a Rowing Machine

I suppose you could burn the most calories by working out at maximum intensity for a half-hour or more every single day and cut all extra calories to the bone, but I’m afraid you will end up being a sore, burned-out mess who just quits the whole idea of weight loss.

young man at gym looking at display on machine to see how many calories does 10 minutes of rowing burn

To turn your body into a fat-burning monster, here are some calorie burning tips you can use:

  • Sit up taller: You can engage your core muscles and work off the weight simply by sitting up straight and not slouching.
  • Drive Legs into footrests: Focus on driving your legs into the footrests with every stroke. The big muscles on the thighs and glutes burn calories faster than any other muscle since they are the largest muscles, so work those legs!
  • Do power stroke interval training: Or follow HIIT principles. Studies show HIIT programs make your body burn more calories.
  • Include some endurance training: Which can really increase your basal metabolic rate and supercharge your fat burning.
  • Follow the numbers: Remember that the stroke rate means the number of times you go through all 4 phases per minute. Think of the split time as your stroke’s measure of power, and make it your guide when doing longer rows. A higher stroke rate will give you more of a cardio — or calorie-burning — workout. A lower stroke rate will involve building more muscle.

Don’t forget that rowing seems like a harder cardio workout than say a treadmill because an indoor rower is a full-body workout. This means that if you are a beginner or someone with a lot of weight to lose, and you want to last the 30-50 minutes that you need to burn fat, you should row at a medium pace of no more than 20-25 strokes per minute.

You can burn fat even faster and get in great shape by using higher resistance levels on your indoor rower or by using a HIIT rowing program.

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How to Use a Rowing Machine to Lose Weight

If you’re interested in weight loss, a rowing machine is the best and fastest way to get a great workout and create a calorie deficit.

Getting regular exercise will not only help you lose weight, but it will also lower blood pressure, build endurance, and give you greater energy levels.

Losing weight is a terrific goal, but let’s not forget that the entire body benefits from getting in exercise regularly.

To lose weight with a rowing machine, you need to be consistent and work out long enough to burn more calories. You don’t have to put out your maximum effort every time you workout, but your intensity level impacts calories burned.

For the maximum calorie burn and to continue burning calories long after your workout has stopped, you should take note of the following:

  • Try to use your rowing machine for 30-50 minutes at a time, 5 days per week
  • You can do 6 days a week, but always give your body one day to rest each week
  • Make your workout count, but don’t work so hard that you don’t enjoy it
  • Aim for a moderate pace, one where you can talk to someone
  • You may choose to use a heart rate monitor to ensure that you are working out hard enough and burning calories
  • You might also use the data monitor and workout until you’ve hit a set number of calories, such as 200 or 350.
  • Your indoor rower monitor might also have programs that are good for weight loss, including 5,000 and 10,000-meter workouts
  • High-Intensity Interval Training programs are terrific for weight loss. These programs usually have you work out at a moderate pace, then increase the pace for one minute, before returning to your previous pace. HIIT is a great workout that will help you burn more calories than regular rowing
  • Don’t forget to stretch and warm up those muscles before and after your workout

You can’t go wrong by using rowing machines for weight loss, regardless of what type of workout you choose to do, as long as you are creating a calorie deficit.

Remember that rowing works nearly every muscle in the body, not only the legs like what stair steppers do, and not just the arms like what upper-body exercise machines work out.

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Best Rowing Workouts for Blasting Fat

You can burn fat like a frying pan by trying some of the following routines. Beginners might find some of these a bit difficult, but keep working at it!

These are HIIT programs that are proven to help you really drop weight fast.

Routine 1- The 5 X 1,000

Set 1: Row 1,000 meters at 100% intensity, followed by 1 minute of active rest

Set 2: Same pattern at 28 SPM

Set 3: Same pattern at 30 SPM

Set 4: Same pattern at 28 SPM

Set 5: Same pattern at 26 SPM

Routine 2- 1 Through 10

100 meters at 100% intensity

100 meters at 60% intensity

200 meters at 100% intensity

200 meters at 60% intensity

Continue this pattern, adding 100 meters each time. Your last set should be 1,000 meters for 100% and 1,000 meters for 60%.

Routine 3- For Beginners

Warmup:

Do 2 minutes at 22 strokes per minute, then 2 minutes at 24 strokes per minute

Ladder:

Do one minute each of 26 SPM, 28 SPM, 30 SPM, 28 SPM, 26 SPM, then 24 SPM.

Now slow down for 5 minutes and do 26 strokes per minute.

There is a 1-minute recovery at 24 strokes per minute.

Now do 2 minutes at 28 strokes per minute.

There is a 1-minute recovery at 26 strokes per minute.

Intervals:

Do eight sets of 30 seconds at 30 SPM, then 30 seconds of recovery at 26 SPM

Cooldown:

1 minute at 24 strokes per minute

Stretch for 2-5 minutes

These are terrific workout programs that can really help you cut down on belly fat and all-over body fat in just 22-30 minutes.

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Tips for Staying Motivated

instructor at gym timing class to see how many calories does 20 minutes on a rowing machine burns

One of the hardest parts about losing weight and getting back into shape is staying motivated. It’s easy to slip back into our old routines when something upsets us, or if we aren’t making progress as fast as we wanted.

It’s normal for the body to hit weight-loss plateaus. Nearly everyone hits a point where calorie-burning seems to stop or slow down, and you don’t lose any weight or you may even see a weight gain even if you’re cutting out more calories and working harder.

Don’t forget that muscle weighs more than fat, so while you may be losing fat, I guarantee that you are also gaining more muscle on your rowing machine. Try not to pay so much attention to the scale and focus more on how you feel and what you look like.

The following tips can help you stay motivated on your weight loss journey.

  1. Add some variety to your workout routine. The same routine day in and day out will eventually cease to challenge your body or mind. Find some new twists, such as weight lifting, yoga, or just a different rowing routine to keep things interesting and burn more calories
  2. Set a firm goal and work hard for it. Whether you want to beat your old 5,000-meter time, or you want to add 10 minutes of rowing time every week for 3 weeks, a new goal will nudge you on and make you want to do better.
  3. Take a break. Don’t forget that your body needs at least one day a week to rest, but if you like, you can also stop rowing and stretch in the middle of your workout or do some yoga poses.
  4. Make your workouts fun. You might want to try rowing during every commercial break as fast as you can. Or you might try a Zoom night where you can compete with your friends who aren’t near you. Make up new games or binge-watch your favorite show and work out every other episode. Whatever you do, make it interesting to you!
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is different.
  6. Silence that inner critic. We talk to ourselves in our heads more than anyone else, so be kind.

Surround yourself with healthy reminders, such as bowls of fresh fruit, and nuts in cute containers, to help you remember to eat healthy and live healthy.

The Bottom Line

More importantly than how fast your body burns calories is maintaining physical activity for the long haul.

Your rowing machine is simply made to burn calories, and you can blast away even more calories by making a few of the changes listed above in how to burn the most calories.

Don’t become a slave to the scale, however. I do monitor my weight on a weekly basis, but I also have a pair of “skinny” jeans that I’ve had for years. I try them on every few months. If I notice they are getting tight, I add an extra 15 minutes each day to my workout and add more salads and vegetables to my plate until those jeans fit well.

An indoor rower will give you more muscle, which weighs more than fat, so the numbers on the scale shouldn’t mean as much as what you look like and feel like.

I should mention that while I love rowing, I try not to be a slave to that machine either. I mix up my workouts with weight lifting, yoga, swimming, and a few other cardio machines that I enjoy using so my body doesn’t become accustomed to the workout and I don’t get bored.

If you’re ready to lose weight, get that blood flowing and get your workout time in while watching the calories you burn on the data monitor climb towards the sky, now is the time to pick out the perfect rowing machine. Check out my favorite machines here.

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