how effective is a rowing machine

How Effective Is a Rowing Machine Workout?

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Try to imagine doing just one exercise for the rest of your life. You can use a machine, but you can only have one. What would you choose?

Well, I would absolutely choose a rowing machine. There are many advantages to using one, besides the obvious aerobic fitness a rowing machine will provide.

This is your favorite blogger Kathleen and today, we are going to talk about why a rowing machine should be your primary workout.

If you’re a fan of stair climbers, treadmills, or spin bikes, that’s fine, but what if I told you that you are actually only getting half a workout when you use one of those?

Yes, I know, you can use weights or other exercise machines, but in this scenario, remember, you can only choose one machine for the rest of your life.

Are you rethinking your choice?

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

Why You Should Choose a Rowing Machine Workout

man learning how effective is rowing at the gym

Besides the fact that a rowing machine is a joy to use, there are many other reasons why a rowing machine should be your go-to pick of workouts.

  1. Rowing works 86 percent of the muscles in the body.
  2. Rowing can burn hundreds of calories per hour. For some people, as much as 900 calories an hour!
  3. Rowing is a full-body workout. This means that it will exercise your upper and lower body at the same time, something you can’t get from a stair climber, treadmill, or spin bike.
  4. Since rowing works all the major muscle groups at the same time, your effort is more evenly spread out during your workout routine. This will lead to much less soreness the next day.
  5. Rowing is a serious aerobic workout that will help tone muscles.
  6. This is a low-impact workout, so people of all fitness levels can use it.
  7. This is one of the best cardio machines ever made. If you want aerobic exercise, a rowing machine is the exercise program of choice.
  8. Beginners have a bit of a learning curve, but rowing machine workouts are fairly easy to learn.
  9. Regular rowing workouts will give you better posture, while heart-pumping workouts on a rowing machine are easy on the knees.
  10. Regardless of what your fitness goals may be – cardiovascular health, lose weight, getting a great full-body workout in less time, core strength, or you want an extremely effective workout – you’ll get all that and more from rowing workouts.

I know that this sounds like one of those infomercials that you see on late-night TV, but every single thing I’ve said about the benefits of rowing is true.

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight with a Rowing Workout?

This depends on many factors. It would be great if I could say, “Row every day for 20 minutes, and you’ll lose 30 pounds a month,” but I can’t.

There are many different variables that go into how much weight a person loses working out on a rowing machine. This includes your current weight, age, and sex. It also matters how much intensity you put into your workout, and even the room temperature will all make a difference.

lady learning how effective is rowing as an exercise

To narrow it down, assuming that you are 50 pounds or more overweight, a typical woman between 30 and 50 years of age, who at least works up a sweat, will lose about 2 pounds a week if they do rowing exercise at least 20 minutes a week, 5 or 6 days per week.

This is also assuming that you are going to eat a healthy, balanced diet at least 80 percent of the time. Yes, you can enjoy ONE cookie on a Saturday night if you’ve been working hard all week, but you can’t eat half a box of cookies every day and expect to lose weight.

Losing weight slowly but steadily is the best and safest way to ensure that the weight doesn’t find you again!

Am I Working Hard Enough or Long Enough to Lose Weight?

There’s an easy way to know, and you’ll find that a heart rate monitor is your new best friend.

A lot of people rely on the calorie counter on the rowing machine to tell them how many calories they’ve burned, but these monitors can be terribly inaccurate.

Remember all those variables I mentioned above? When was the last time your rowing machine had you input all those numbers? Exactly.

Your body needs to reach about 80 percent of its maximum heart rate and hold that number for at least 20 minutes to burn fat and burn the maximum number of calories.

What you need to do is find your target heart rate by using this calculator. Let’s say that your recommended maximum heart rate is between 87 and 135 beats per minute.

This means that when you use your rowing machine, you need to keep your heart rate between those two numbers (and I would recommend keeping it above 100) for 20 minutes each time you workout.

You can use the heart rate monitor on your rowing machine if it has one, or you can buy one nearly everywhere. They are not expensive, and they will really help you not only track your calorie burning but also improve your cardiovascular endurance.

How Can I Make My Rowing Workout More Effective?

If you haven’t heard about HIIT workouts, you are in for a pleasantly shocking surprise.

What if I told you that you could burn more calories, increase muscle mass, and even lose weight faster while spending less time working out? Would you be interested?

Of course, you would!

This is exactly what a HIIT program can give you.

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. Don’t let that name scare you. All this means is that you are going to do one minute of really hard exercise, then you will slow down or even rest for a few seconds, then do that one minute of exercise again.

And again and again and again.

How Do High-Intensity Workouts Help?

While experts don’t know how this works, they have done thousands of studies showing that a high-intensity workout has multiple benefits.

One example of this type of workout would be that you warm-up for 3 minutes. You would row as fast as possible for one minute, then you either slow down for one minute or you could even stop rowing for that one minute.

You would repeat this cycle of active recovery (resting) and all-out effort about 12 or 13 times. Then you would cool down for 3 minutes and you’re done.

This type of rowing activates your body to burn calories like crazy, even hours after you’ve stopped working out. This is called the afterburn effect, also called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Since this is a very intense workout, you only need to use your rowing machine every other day.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

HIIT workout programs are used at health clubs and by professional athletes everywhere because they really work!

Do Rowing Machine Benefits Apply to Beginners?

You bet they do!

While it’s true that beginners need to learn the proper form to avoid back pain or shoulder pain, the rowing stroke isn’t really hard to learn.

With a little practice, even small children can learn to do the rowing stroke properly.


This video can help you check your form and see if you need to make any corrections.

Yes, other cardio machines might be easier to use in the beginning, but once you learn to row properly, you will find that rowing workouts are the perfect answer for weight loss, working the upper body and the lower body, and improving your heart health.

If my 5-year-old granddaughter can learn the rowing strokes, so can you!

The Final Takeaway

Rowing Machines are the best full-body workout on the planet, no doubt about it.

Whether you’re interested in weight loss, an incredible cardio workout, or working your entire body at one time, or you want stronger leg muscles and core muscles, or maybe you’re just looking to improve your overall health, rowing machines are the answer!

I love that rowing machines are a low-impact workout. This means even if you have bad knees, arthritis, or joint issues, you should have no problem using it.

man showing how effective are rowing machines for weight loss

Doing a HIIT workout program also means that you only need to use the rowing machine every other day. That leaves you free time for strength training or yoga, or whatever other type of cardio workout you may like to do on the other days.

Or you can just use your rowing machine and enjoy other activities, like walking the dog, cooking up some healthy meals, or meeting your friends for coffee.

Fitness fads come and go, but rowing machines have been around since the ancient Greeks, and they’ve been used in modern times since at least the early 1980s. Why? Because they work like no other cardio machine can.

I hope you found this article helpful. I do like being helpful, so if you think someone else might enjoy or need this information, feel free to pass it on.

Stay healthy and happy, friends. Life is too short for anything else.