how many calories does a rowing machine burn

How Many Calories Does a Rowing Machine Burn?

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Hi There! It’s Kathleen, and today, we’re going to talk about all things fat. How to get rid of fat, how you can stop fat from coming back home, what is the best way to get rid of fat quickly, and how fat and muscles are different.

You may think you’ve heard it all before, but let me tell you, friends, old Kathleen is here to shake things up!

If you’ve bought a rowing machine in hopes of losing weight, or if you’re thinking about buying one, this is the article for you.

I’m going to tell you how many calories you can burn, but more importantly, why you should use a rowing machine and not a treadmill or spin bike to burn those calories. There’s a good reason behind this, and you’re going to be a bit shocked by what I tell you.

Anyway, are you ready? Grab a cup of coffee, and let’s talk for a bit about how and why rowing workouts are the best thing ever when it comes to losing weight and getting in shape fast!

How Many Calories Do You Burn on a Rowing Machine?

It depends on several factors, like weight, age, intensity of workout, and many more variables to accurately estimate the number of calories you burn on a rowing machine. Roughly, you can lose at least 500 calories in 1 hour of vigorous workout.

lady working out how many calories does rowing burn

To get you a more accurate figure, you will need a calorie calculator.

Simple Rowing Machine Calorie Calculator

There are probably close to 100 different variables that go into losing weight. Everything from your gender to your current age, current weight, room temperature, as well as how hard you’re working out- all of these matter when it comes to calculating calories burned.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on trying to figure out how many calories you can burn while rowing, you just need to not get obsessive over the exact number.

I’ve found that some rowing calculators can help. This one says that a 150-pound person rowing vigorously for one hour can burn 501 calories.

This one says that the same 150-pound person will burn 562 calories.

I have found that calculating your base metabolic rate is helpful when trying to lose weight. This calculator will tell you how many calories your body needs just to survive. The thinner you are right now means that you need fewer calories than someone who is overweight.

For rowing, however, you can use this rowing machine calorie calculator to help you determine, as closely as humanly possible, how many calories a person can burn while rowing.

calculator showing rowing burns how many calories

For example, this calculator shows that a 150-pound, 40-year-old female with an average heart rate of 130 BPM while doing a rowing workout burns 460 calories per hour.

Using a heart rate monitor, whether the one that came with your rowing machine or a third-party one is very helpful when it comes to losing weight and determining the number of calories you burn.

If you want to figure out what your target heart rate is, here is another calculator for that.

So How Does Calorie Burn Translate to Weight Loss?

I think everyone here knows what a calorie is, and that one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.

Most people plan on losing weight by cutting back on food a bit, usually about 200 calories per day, which is easy to do, and then getting in some aerobic exercise to burn another 300 calories.

This means that by creating a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, you can lose 1 pound of fat per week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).

Of course, this is all speaking in general terms and does sound too simplistic to be real. Truth is, it is SO much easier to write about than to actually do.

Here’s a Sample on How to Cut Back on Your Calorie Intake

Yes, you can always cut back 300 calories a day from the food you eat and only get in 200 calories worth of exercise. Any combination will work, but most people find that cutting out 200 calories from their diet is pretty easy.

lady working out on her phone how many calories does a rowing machine burn

However, cutting back on quantity usually backfires, so instead, you can try a more feasible approach, such as:

  • Cut back on the sauce (such as gravy) and high-fat/high-sugar condiments (such as mayo and ketchup)
  • Stop using sugar in your coffee and use a zero-calorie sugar substitute
  • Add extra vegetables to whatever you are cooking
  • Avoid fast food and junk food like potato chips
  • Eat healthy snacks like nuts, fresh fruit, or an ounce of cheese
  • Avoid high-calorie salad dressings
  • Cut back on carbs
  • Make open-face sandwiches
  • Cut the skin off of meat (such as chicken or turkey)

So How Long Does It Take to Burn 500 Calories on a Rowing Machine?

Let’s use those calculators above to help us figure this out.

Using the same 40-year-old female, her target heart rate is between 99 and 153 beats per minute. Let’s take the middle ground and say that during her rowing workout, her average heart rate was 125 beats per minute.

This 150-pound female will need to work out for 70 minutes (1 hour and 10 minutes) to burn 500 calories if her average heart rate was 125 beats per minute.

Now if this female wants to work out less, she will need to increase her heart rate to 140 beats per minute on average. If she did this, she would only need to work out for 57 minutes or roughly an hour.

lady at gym learning how many calories does a rower burn

To answer the question above, you will need to plug in some numbers into those calculators to figure out exactly how long you need to row to burn those 500 calories.

Working out on an indoor rowing machine for 57-70 minutes is quite a long time and it will be a real workout, which is why I believe most people tend to cut back on calories just a bit and then add 250-300 calorie rowing workouts to lose weight.

How Many Calories Does 20 Minutes of Rowing Burn?

We can use one of those calculators above for this one as well.

Using that same female I’ve been using as my subject, let’s say that she had an average heart rate of 130 beats per minute. Over a 20-minute rowing machine workout, her calorie burn would be 153 calories.

If she wanted to increase the number of calories burned, she could do some vigorous rowing and get her heart rate up to an average of 145 beats per minute. That would give her a calorie-burning number of 186 for her 20-minute workout.

See how this works?

First, use this calculator to find out what your optimum heart rate should be.

When you have finished your rowing workout, find your average heart rate for that workout period.

Use this calculator to determine how many calories you have burned.

Imagine having to figure all this out with a pen and paper! I love whoever took the time to create these calculators to make life easier!

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My Secret for Burning More Calories with Rowing Workouts

When it comes to rowing machine workouts, there are two main types: HIIT workouts and steady state.

Steady-state workouts mean that you try to stay within a certain number of strokes per minute (for example, 24 SPM) during the entire workout, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes.


During a steady-state workout, most people also try to keep their heart rate within a certain range, usually somewhere between 125 and 155, but this will vary depending on your age. For many people, this steady-state type of workout is done at a medium pace or moderate pace, so they can keep rowing for a longer period of time.

However, if you want to burn calories like a furnace, you should do HIIT workouts. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it’s been shown to not only burn as much as 30 percent more calories than the steady-state workouts, but you also keep burning calories at a higher rate than any regular workout for hours after you have stopped rowing.

Science isn’t sure why our bodies respond this way to HIIT workouts, they only know that they do. You will see professional athletes use HIIT workout programs all the time.

A common HIIT workout on a rowing machine can be as simple as the following:

  • After you warm-up, row at a moderate pace for 2 to 3 minutes
  • Now row as hard and as fast as you possibly can for 1 minute
  • Rest (stop rowing) or row very slowly until your heart rate comes back down
  • Repeat for 20 minutes or longer if you wish

HIIT simply means that you spend a short period of time doing vigorous rowing, then you slow back down to a more moderate intensity. This same pattern is repeated over and over for however long you want your workout to be (20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever).

You will find that HIIT workouts allow you to burn the same number of calories as you would during a steady-state workout but in a shorter amount of time.

If you want to maintain your current weight, you could opt to do a 15 minute HIIT rowing workout every other day. This would burn the same number of calories as doing a 30-minute steady-state rowing program every day.

If you want to burn more calories, using a HIIT workout means you can do your usual 30-minute routine, and you will burn 30 percent more calories, not to mention that you will continue burning calories long after you have stopped exercising!

HIIT is the best-kept secret I know of!

Spend less time exercising to burn 30 percent more calories? Oh yes, pass that right over to my plate!

So Is 20-minutes of Rowing Enough?

The answer here is that it depends on what you mean by “enough”?

Enough to lose weight? For most people, especially if you do a HIIT workout on your rowing machine, yes, it is enough to help you with weight loss.

If you mean enough to get yourself in shape? Generally speaking, yes, it is. You will need to put in some vigorous effort and exercise regularly (meaning 6 days per week), but you can build new muscle and burn the most calories possible in those 20 minutes if you use a HIIT workout.

By “enough” do you mean both weight loss and getting a full-body workout that builds new muscle? Yes, all you really need is 20 minutes most days of the week.

If you do a HIIT program, you will most likely want to do it every other day to give your body time to recover. I love working out this way since it enables me to do other types of exercise on the days in between my rowing workouts.

When you mix up your exercise routine, you not only get a great workout, but you also keep your body continually challenged since it doesn’t know what to expect.

I like to do some weightlifting or resistance band training, go swimming in the summer, ride bicycles with my kids, or take the dog for a long walk in the forest. In the winter, I’m fond of using my treadmill, mini-trampoline, and even dancing in the living room.

You can still burn fat, experience weight loss, and burn the most calories possible when you do a HIIT rowing workout every other day. This leaves you free to use other cardio machines, weightlifting, or whatever type of workout routine you find enjoyable.

Tips for Burning Calories and Losing Weight with Rowing Workouts

For those of you who are super dedicated and want to maximize the number of calories burned rowing, I’ve got a few tips to help you out.

  1. To all beginners, focus on your form first. I know that no one wants to hear this, but if you fail to master the proper rowing form first, you’re going to hurt yourself eventually and then you will be upset that you can’t work out.
  2. Once you have the rowing form down, focus on maintaining a stroke rate between 24 and 30 SPM.
  3. You can either increase the total time spent using your indoor rower by one minute each week or increase your SPM by one stroke each week. This means that if you’re working out for 20 minutes a week, try working out for 21 minutes next week and 22 minutes the week after. Or if you’re averaging 25 SPM, try to hit 26 SPM next week.
  4. Mix up your rowing routine every 2-4 weeks so that your body does not become accustomed to it. Our bodies are notorious for getting accustomed to things and becoming very efficient at it. More efficiency is good in the office or at your job but not when you’re trying to lose weight!
  5. Do HIIT workouts on your indoor rower whenever possible.
  6. Eat a healthy diet as much as possible. You won’t burn those calories if you are eating Krispy Kreme for snacks.

When it comes to the maximum calorie burn that every dieter is looking for, it’s hard to beat rowing machines, but there is another reason why using a rowing machine is important for weight loss.

Why Use a Rowing Machine to Lose Weight?

I know, I know. You are probably asking why you should bother to use a rowing machine to lose weight. Can’t you get the same thing from a treadmill or stair climber?

In fact, why exercise at all? Can’t you just do the Keto thing and drop all the weight you want?

Glad you asked.

First, let’s talk about the Diet vs Exercise issue.

Yes, technically, you can lose weight strictly by controlling your diet.

However, there are many drawbacks to that, including flabby muscle tone. You can lose weight quickly with some diet plans, but they do nothing for your muscles. It takes exercise to get rid of that jello belly and wiggly arms.

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Can’t I Use Other Cardio Machines, Like Treadmills?

You can also use just about any cardio machine to burn calories, that’s true, but there is one thing that a rowing machine will give you that other cardio machines won’t, and that is new muscle.

Yes, stair steppers and exercise bikes will give you some new muscle on the lower body, but not the upper body.

Rowing will not only burn the most calories, but it also works 86 percent of the muscles in your body all at the same time. This means you will not only burn more calories than on a treadmill, but you will also build new muscles on your arms, legs, core, butt, shoulders, and back.

When you build new muscle and burn fat, you will find that you drop weight more quickly or you can eat more and still maintain your current weight. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat does, so you definitely want more muscles!

If you want those long, slim dancer’s legs, if you want super-tight abs and a butt that will have your SO singing “Baby Got Back”, then you want to do rowing workouts.

Why not take advantage of the best of both worlds?

Cut out the crappy stuff you eat at least half of the time and replace it with healthy foods. Eat more meat and vegetables, and snack on fresh fruit.

Then add a half hour or so of rowing machine workouts, and you’re going to be shocked at how good you look and feel!

Take it from someone who knows. I’ve been there. Eating a proper diet at least 80 percent of the time and using your rowing machine for burning calories is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and improve the way you look and feel.

Summary on How Many Calories Do You Burn Rowing

You don’t have to take it from me. Try typing on Google’s search bar this search query – rowing machine workouts before and after – then look at the pictures. It’s pretty shocking, isn’t it?

It might feel as though you’ll never lose that stubborn belly fat, but I promise you that if you commit yourself to working out on your rowing machine for at least 20 minutes a day and try hard to eat a proper diet, you can and will experience weight loss.

Not only that. By using the rowing machine, you will have more muscle definition, which will not only make you look better but will also make it easier for you to lose weight and/or maintain your current weight. You might even be able to increase your food intake because muscle burns more calories than fat.

Don’t worry about doing everything right. If you fall off the diet wagon and eat half a cake, don’t beat yourself up by eating the other half. Get right back in that rowing machine seat and start again.

Stay healthy and happy friends because life is too short for anything else!