Rowing machines benefits for weight loss

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Rowing machines benefits for weight loss

When you decide to improve your health and lose a few pounds, your first step doesn’t have to be an exhausting, long-distance run.You can easily  use rowing machines for weight loss.Experts agree that the perfect way to burn fat is cardiovascular exercise and a rowing machine is exactly what you need for this. Many people who use rowing machines have monitors to track their heart rate in order to keep training at the optimum rate to keep them in the fat burning zone. In this article we’re going to discuss about Rowing machines benefits for weight loss.

Using a rowing machine can help to lose calories, build and strengthen your muscles, support your cardiovascular function and increase your stamina. Also, rowing machines are effective and safe for older fitness enthusiasts because they place no strain on the back and joints. Though, don’t just assume that you can sit on it and row to burn the fat. You have to do it the right way and commit to a program that suits you in order to maximize the benefits of your time on the rower.

But first, remember one very important fact – diet is everything! You won’t lose weight unless you adopt a healthy diet and limit your calorie intake. It’s a myth that if you work out but you eat the same, you may still see results. Natural ways to burn fat are curcuminoids and apple cider vinegar. Also you can read our full guide on the best ways to loose body fat.

What is a rowing machine?

Rowing machines benefits for weight loss

A rowing machine (or rower) is a machine which simulates the action of watercraft rowing for the purpose of exercise or training indoors. Modern rowing machines are also known as ergometers as they measure the amount of work performed through the use of their equipment. Today they exist in most of the gyms, but some people choose to purchase one for rowing at home because that’s more convenient for them or they don’t want to stand in a row in order to use it.

All rowing machines consist of an energy damper or braking mechanism which is connected to a chain and a handlebar. A footplate (where rowers places their feet) is attached to the same base as the energy damper. Some rowing machines also consist of a rail which either the seat or the mechanism slide upon. Moreover, some rowing machines are equipped with a digital display which is able to calculate speed, power, heart rate, distance and calories burned.

In conclusion, different machines have a variety of designs and damping mechanisms, each of which have certain advantages and disadvantages.

Rowing technique

Rowing is a cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate and keeps it increased for a period of time. Firstly, you need to calculate which the maximum heart rate is for your age and this will give you the right pace at which you should maintain in order to get your heart beating at the rate that will burn fat without exhausting you.

Rowing on a rowing machine requires 4 basic phases to complete one stroke, which are: the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery.

The catch is the initial part of a stroke. Knees are bent, while thighs are roughly parallel to the back. The arms and shoulders are extended forward and relaxed. The muscles worked in this phase are: Erector Spinae, Gastrochnemius and Soleus, and Hamstrings.

The drive is the phase that the power from the rower is generated. In this phase, the legs are extending and the back leans backwards, while the rower is pulling the handlebar towards the chest with the arms. The muscles worked in this phase are: Erector Spinae, Rectus Abdominus, Triceps, Rhomboids, Deltoids, Trapezius, Pectoralis Major, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Gastrochnemius and Soleus.

Finish (or release)
The finish is actually the final part of a stroke. The legs are fully extended and flat, while the back still leans backwards. The shoulders are slightly behind the pelvis and the arms are in full contraction with the elbows bent and the handlebar against the chest. The muscles worked in this phase are: Erector Spinae, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Triceps, Biceps, Deltoids, Pectoralis Major, Rectus Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Quadriceps, and Hamstrings.

The recovery is the phase that the rower begins to take a new stroke. In other words, the rower slowly slides back to the initial part of the stroke. During the recovery, the actions are in reverse order of those in the drive.

Rowing machines benefits

1. Cardiovascular benefits
When you are using a rowing machine, your heart rate increases (and stays increased for a period of time) and your body uses carbohydrates to provide the energy required for the exercise. Whether it’s when you push off with your feet or use your upper-body to pull the handlebar, your entire body is working which will easily raise your heart rate and keep it there.

Cardiovascular exercise, like rowing, stimulates and strengthens the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s utilization of oxygen. Adjusting the rowing machine tension at a low level allows you to preserve a high rate of speed with little resistance in order to reach and maintain an aerobic state. Aerobic exercise improves your heart and lung function, while controlling your blood pressure. However, if you want to get the full benefits of using a rowing machine, it’s important to try switching activity levels, increasing the time as you become more experienced.

2. Muscle toning
While it may seem that rowing machines only engage your arms, they actually incorporate and exercise every major muscle group in human body. When you push off with your legs, you work out your legs, hips and buttocks with each stroke, while using your upper-body muscles to pull the handlebar results to strengthening your back, shoulders and arms. Just make sure that you are using the correct technique and you are targeting nine muscle groups.

Since rowing is done at a pace where you’re able to maintain for several minutes without pausing, it’s ideal for both enhancing your endurance and strengthening your muscles at the same time. Also, most rowing machines are programmed for different tension levels, so you can adjust them to create a tighter resistance to increase the rate at which you build muscle.

3. Many calories burned
As you may already know, cardiovascular exercise is beneficial not only for your health, but for losing weight too. And that’s why rowing machines are a perfect solution for losing a few pounds.

You can burn serious calories when using a rowing machine because it’s easy on the joints, allowing for a longer training.

If you are trying to lose weight, a daily 30-minute rowing session is a great way to add variation to your routine. This cardiovascular exercise allows you to burn around 115 calories in 15 minutes.

4. Low-impact nature
While high-intensity training, like running, can really make your joints hurt, a rowing session burns fat and tones muscles without the same risk of injury due to its low-impact nature. That feature is especially important for older people or people who have weak joints or rehabilitate after surgery.

People also have a better chance to burn a lot of calories when using a rowing machine because it’s easier on the joints, allowing working out for a longer period of time. Many people cannot sustain long high-intensity training because their joints start hurting over time, so they shortly stop their training.

4. Different workouts
One basic reason why people stop losing weight when using a rowing machine, is because they perform the same workout for a long period of time, so their body gets used to it. Fortunately, many rowing machines come equipped with different workouts (e.g. for weight loss, high intensity training, cardio exercise etc.), which allows people to change things up to maintain the fat burning.

Furthermore, the majority of rowing machines come with adjustable or variable resistance which gives you the opportunity to perform full body aerobic and anaerobic exercises on the same machine according to your preferences every time. For example, if you want to have an aerobic workout, you can lower the resistance while rowing at a medium speed. On the other hand, if you prefer an anaerobic workout, just increase the resistance or perform HIIT (high intensity interval training).

5. Stress reduction
Researchers have reported that physical activity stimulates pleasure centers in the brain. Particularly, cardiovascular exercise leads to an increase in endorphins levels, which can reduce stress and decrease the risk of depression. You can purchase a rowing machine and place it in front of the TV to have your rowing sessions as you relax in the evening.

Benefits of a rowing machine for weight loss

There are absolutely many advantages of using a rowing machine for weight loss. For starters, rowing machines burn calories rapidly and, therefore, they are a suitable addition to your workout regimen if you wish to lose weight. According to Harvard Health Publications, a vigorous workout on a rowing machine can burn about 377 calories in 30 minutes for a person who weighs 185 pounds.

Furthermore, you can use a rowing machine even if you are not fit or you are very overweight (but remember to check the maximum user weight of the machine before purchasing it). If you’re currently overweight and you are trying to lose weight, it’s not wise for you to do a weight-bearing workout, like running on a treadmill, as it may put too much strain on your joints and cause injuries. And, of course, the last thing you need when you start a fitness program is an injury. Surely, elliptical trainers and exercise bikes are also an option, but they don’t incorporate as many muscles as a rowing machine does. You can start with an easier training program, moving to a more difficult one when you become more fit and experienced.

Also, in order to keep losing pounds, you will need to vary your workouts, which is also a great way not to get bored and disinterested by doing the same thing over and over again.

By putting lesser strain on the joints than other cardiovascular workouts, such as running or biking, a rowing maching is much safer for both younger and older people. It is also safe for specific categories of people, like those you have weak joints or those who recently had a knee or ankle surgery and are in the recovery state at that moment.

Another advantage of using a rowing machine for losing weight is that you don’t have to work out outdoors or at a gym, because you are able to purchase a rowing machine to work out at home. That is far more convenient as you can row whenever you like, even when you are watching a movie. Some of them are even foldable, so you can get them out of your way after finishing a rowing session.

Again, note that you cannot lose weight by only using a rowing machine. You need to have a healthy diet and decrease your calorie intake too.


To summarize, the basic advantages of a rowing machine for weight loss are the following:

  • It’s safe for everyone
  • It puts little stress on your body (with the correct technique of course)
  • The variety of rowing workouts keeps it interesting
  • You can buy one to row at home
  • Most models are quiet
  • Some models fold away for easier storage
  • Helps burn more calories than other types of fitness equipment

Rowing machine benefits exercises for weight loss

Experts agree that there are two categories of rowing machine exercises which burn the most fat. These categories are the “steady-state” workout and HIIT (high intensity interval training). For better results and keeping things interesting, you should incorporate both into your training program in different time periods. For example, try to do steady-state workouts for a month and then HIIT workouts for a few weeks.

Steady-state workout
In steady-state workout, you row at a medium pace and resistance for at least 30 minutes. To do this,

  • Adjust the rowing machine to a medium resistance (about 60-70% of your max capacity).
  • Begin rowing at a medium pace.
  • Maintain this pace for 30-45 minutes aiming for your heart rate to be between 120 to 150 beats per minute.

In HIIT, you firstly row really fast for a while and then you slow down for a period and you keep repeating this cycle over and over. To do this,

  • Adjust the rowing machine to a medium resistance (about 60-70% of your max capacity) and row for about 2-3 minutes to warm up.
  • Row as quickly as possible for 1 minute (90-100% of your max capacity).
  • Rest for 1 minute or longer to allow your heart rate to decrease a bit.
  • Repeat the whole process until you have worked out for 20-30 minutes.


Even Connor McGregor uses rowing machines!

Important things to know before using a rowing machine

According to the National Institutes of Health, you should consult your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program, especially if you haven’t been in any physical activity for a long period of time or you are recovering from a surgery. Your doctor can advise you on the type, frequency and duration of exercises that are safe and best for you. Once your doctor has given you the permission to exercise, be sure to warm up before you start rowing. This is important, because it prepares your muscles for exercise and improves your flexibility, thereby lowering the probability of any injuries to your muscles and joints.

When you use a proper technique, rowing machines are unlikely to cause you any joint injuries. If you row the wrong way though, rowing machines can injure your lower back. Therefore, it is necessary to go for the appropriate technique, focusing on both mechanics and breathing (exhale on the drive and inhale on the recovery). The angle of the upper-body should never be too far forward, nor too far backwards, in order not to jeopardize the lower back.

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