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Rowing But Not Losing Weight? Our Tips & Tricks!

rowing but not losing weight

Like a lot of people, maybe you set two goals for yourself this year. Losing weight and rowing every day. You might be committed to the second half, but somehow, that stubborn weight just refuses to fall off! Why is that?

Hi friends, it’s Petra, and today I want to talk about a common problem: losing weight.

You’ve probably heard me before say that a rowing machine workout is all you need to drop that ugly extra weight and keep it off. However, despite your best efforts, you aren’t making much progress towards your weight loss goals.

There can be several reasons for that, and I’m going to walk you through all of them to help you find the main reason why.

I’m sure someone is reading this saying, “Petra! It’s not that I’m not LOSING weight, I’m actually GAINING weight! Why is this happening?!”

That is such a frustrating problem. You aren’t alone either. This happens to more people than you might realize.

Let’s talk about how the humble rowing machine can help you lose weight if you know a few tricks. I’ll also share some of my best tips for losing fat and toning those muscles.

Why Am I Not Losing Weight?

First, I’m assuming that you’re an otherwise healthy person with no medical condition that might be hindering your weight loss goal.

Check with your doctor to ensure that your thyroid is working well, and that you have no other health issues in the way.

After that, let me tell you about the top 5 things I’ve noticed when people have difficulty dropping pounds, despite rowing 5K or more most days of the week.

  1. You’re Eating Too Many Calories Before You Even Start. I know that some people want to “fuel” their workout, but I’ve watched these same people drink a 32-ounce protein shake, then have breakfast (or dinner or whatever) afterward. Check out the calorie intake on that shake. Depending on the brand, they are about 300-350 calories. Too many people overestimate how many calories they will burn from a rowing machine workout.
  2. You’re Eating Too Many Calories, Period. In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. This means you need to eat fewer calories than you are burning. If you are burning a total of 1500 calories all day, including your workout, but you are eating 1700 calories a day, you will not lose weight.
  3. You ARE Losing Fat and Building Muscle. Don’t pay too much attention to the scale. If you know that you are creating a calorie deficit, then chances are that you are replacing that jiggly fat with tight, taut, sleek muscle mass. Try measuring yourself and see if you notice a difference.
  4. You Aren’t Rowing Enough to Lose Weight. Remember that one pound of fat is 3,500 calories. Depending on your current weight and how hard you are rowing, the average person needs to row between 44 to 55 kilometers each week to burn off that one pound of fat. For an experienced rower, that isn’t too difficult, but for a beginner, you might find that number too big.
  5. You Aren’t Mixing It Up. Doing the same 3-5K row every other day probably isn’t challenging your body enough to lose weight. Mix up your rowing workout. Add some high-intensity interval training, racing, or go for longer rows one day and a short but super-fast row the next. Don’t let your body become accustomed to the same workout routine.

Don’t be discouraged! There are lots of things you can do to help your body lose weight naturally.

Tips on How to Lose Weight Naturally with a Rowing Machine

Hopefully, you are using your rowing machine for a full-body workout most days of the week.

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to lose weight. While scientists don’t exactly understand how this works, the thing is that it works – professional athletes improve their athletic performance by using HIIT workouts.
  • You can (and should) do other types of exercise on your days off from HIIT, but I recommend that you do these cardio and strength training types of workouts to help burn fat. You can read more about how you can you do HIIT on a rowing machine here. HIIT workouts are done every other day, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t go for a long walk with your kids, use a different exercise machine (like a stair climber or treadmill) or start a new weight training program.
  • You should always give your body one full day of rest to allow it to recover. This doesn’t mean you can lie on the couch all day, however. Go swimming, take a walk in the park, play with your kids, or whatever sounds appealing to you.

Tips for Easy Weight Loss

Other tips for losing weight without feeling like you are dying (I mean, isn’t the word DIET, actually DIE with a T on the end? I think Garfield the cat said this and it feels accurate):

  • Keep a food journal for at least two weeks. I know this is tedious and boring, but it will help you SO very much! Lots of people make the mistake of guessing the number of calories they are consuming everyday, but they don’t know the true number. There are many online calorie counters (free versions work just fine) to help you keep track, which may make it more fun.
  • Use a calorie-burning calculator (like this one) to help you determine your calorie deficit. Between the calorie intake calculator and the calorie-burning calculator, you should have a much better idea about how many calories you are burning and consuming. Make sure you have a deficit!
  • Add more protein to your diet. Did you know that your body will burn as much as 100 calories more each day simply by eating more protein? That’s like one free 20-minute workout just by eating! Cut carbs and add protein.
  • My best tip: cut up snacks and have them ready. Put them in the front of the refrigerator. It’s too easy to see an open package of cookies and grab two for a snack because you don’t feel like cutting up an apple or washing some celery. Cut up healthy snack foods and have them ready to grab, Put them in individual bags. I always take a small cooler with me in the car, filled with frozen bottles of water (so everything stays cold), cut up fruit, nuts, and string cheese so I won’t buy a PayDay (I love those candy bars!) when I stop to buy gas. This is also great for kids who want a snack as you are driving them around.
  • Ditch the alcohol and fruit juice. Too many people drink their calories. Avoid both of these as much as humanly possible. Eat fresh fruit. The fiber is better for you.
  • Last, coffee is a very healthy beverage. I really like coffee. The problem with coffee drinks is what we add to them. Learn to drink it black or use stevia, which is a natural, non-caloric sweetener.

Yes, this isn’t always fun, but don’t forget to give yourself one cheat day per week. This doesn’t mean that you can scarf down an entire cake, 6 donuts, and half a cheesecake.

A cheat day helps you from feeling deprived. If you are dying for a donut, give yourself one day to enjoy ONE donut. Eat normally the rest of the day, but give your body what it is craving for, and you won’t feel deprived.

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight With a Rower?

Weight loss happens when you are burning more calories than you are consuming. Unfortunately, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

The answer to this question is that it varies from person to person. If you are eating a healthy daily diet, and you are in your target heart rate zone for 20-30 minutes most days of the week, you should lose weight within 6 weeks.

A person who weighs 250 pounds is going to burn calories a lot faster than someone who weighs 150 pounds.

Also, someone who consumes let’s say 300 fewer calories a day than someone who is only cutting back 100 calories a day is going to lose weight faster.

Generally speaking, the best way to lose weight is to use your indoor rowing machine at least 5 days per week, with some medium intensity rowing (meaning that you are at least breathing hard), and eating a daily diet that is at least 80 percent healthy foods.

Learn Proper Rowing Machine Posture – Click Here! 

I’m Actually Gaining Weight!

While this is distressing, it’s not as uncommon as you might think.

Many times, gaining weight is actually muscle mass gain.

Many scales don’t tell the whole story about your actual weight. You might find that your overall fitness has improved but that the scale says you’ve gained a few pounds.

Muscle weighs more than fat. It also burns more calories, which is a good thing.

If you are experiencing weight gain, try using one of the newer smart scales that measure not only your weight, but your body fat percentage, water weight, and bone mass.

If you’ve started using weights, remember that weight-bearing exercises will also increase your bone mass, which will make the scale read higher.

Don’t sweat it if you gain weight while doing a rowing machine workout. If you are eating right, don’t get upset at those numbers on the scale.

The Bottom Line

If you want to use your rowing machine to lose weight, you can! You’ll drop those unwanted pounds and improve your body composition if you put in the effort and eat a good diet.

You’ve probably heard that before, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Do HIIT workouts on your rowing machine for weight loss that should happen naturally. Eat healthy foods and focus on how your body looks and feels, and not so much on the numbers you see on the bathroom scale.

Stay happy and eat healthy, friends! Oh yes, and keep rowing!

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