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Is Rowing Good For Weight Loss?

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy (21 years of Oly Lifting experience)

Rowing is a fascinating workout choice that encourages cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, and energy expenditure. 

In this article, we’ll answer a few simple but meaningful questions. Is rowing good for weight loss? How many calories can you expect to burn? And what are the most efficient training approaches?

Rowing machines come with a flywheel, water tank, magnetic, or hydraulic setup. They mimic the motion of rowing boats. The gym staple may help you get in shape, assuming weight loss as a result of the discrepancy between caloric consumption and expenditure. You’ll get rid of more calories on a rower than on a bike. While running can be a great solution, it’s not that low-impact. All in all, rowing hits the sweet spot of control and output.

Does rowing help you lose weight? Rowers are excellent calorie-busting, low-impact, and full-body exercise machines. They have both aerobic and resistance qualities. When rowing for weight loss, you can undoubtedly shed pounds if you’re consistent and considerate with your training as well as diet.

Concept2 Model D

Is Rowing Good for Weight Loss?

Rowing to lose weight is an intriguing idea. Can sitting on a rail-mounted seat and pulling a rope with all your power trigger a systematic fat flux? Sure, it may be pretty helpful due to the following science-based reasons.

1. Calorie Deficit

A consistent calorie deficit (expending more amount than you intake) promotes weight loss. You can torch about 200-400 calories in a not-so-intense rowing session of half an hour. More on that in the next section! This is superb compensation and comparable to moderate biking and 5 mph running. Considering you hold off on your taste buds, losing weight is very much possible. 

2. Fat Burn

Does rowing burn fat? A 6-week study involving Concept2 indoor rowers showed a significant decrease in total body fat percent. Surprisingly, this intervention resulted in better trunk and back strength as well. As you row back and forth, your body turns fatty acids into fuel for working muscles. This large-scale disruption of stubborn fats chisels your body to perfection.

rowing machine arm training

3. Appetite Suppression

Avoiding physical activity is a double-edged sword. You let go of a quick calorie burn. Simultaneously, the resurgent feel of being fuller and grabbing fewer snacks is lost. Both aerobic and resistance exercises carry appetite and energy intake suppression effectsProtein-rich diets bring the same qualities. Researchers suggest customizing obesity treatment plans with diet and exercise combined.

4. Full-Body Workout

Weight loss is a holistic phenomenon that occurs all over your body. Therefore, it’s necessary to train as many parts as possible. If you’re thinking of hours-long gym rendezvous, think again! Rowers work up a whopping 85% of your musculature. Take it as a horizontal deadlift, activating quads, glutes, calves, core, pecs, and arms – all in a single stroke!

5. Strength Gains

The only major muscle groups devoid of activity are the chest and triceps. You’ll feel a boost in overall strength and endurance, which ultimately will help you ramp up workout intensity and duration when rowing to weight loss. Training on a rower increases bone density over time. However, you must not forsake classical weightlifting if building muscles is your primary goal.

6. Injury Prevention

Do you know what else can throw a wrench in your perfectly-laid weight loss regime? INJURIES!!! And rookies are at a greater risk of getting themselves hurt early on. Hence, you want to make sure that the selected exercises are not only effective but safe as well. Rowing is low-impact. It reports 2.25 injuries, compared to 18 running-related injuries per 1000 sessions of each. 

personal settings on the rowing machine

7. Heart Health

Rowing is predominantly an aerobic exercise. Benefits to your strength are a testament to its unique status. Regular exercise does a plethora of wonders for your heart health and body composition. It lowers blood pressure, bad (LDL) cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Also, it causes a long-term anti-inflammatory effect which goes against the risk factors of CVD and obesity.

8. Accessibility

Rowing machines are one of the most straightforward and widely available home gym equipment. They have a one-off technique that involves catch, drive, finish, and recovery. Missing some marks here and there will reduce efficiency, not safety. Modern Rowers – such as Concept2 RowErg – come with consoles that readout time, calories, and various performance metrics.

How Many Calories Will I Burn on a Rowing Machine?

The exact number of forgone calories boils down to several individual factors, such as your body weight, age, metabolic rate, and fitness level. Moreover, the activity you’re involved in and its duration as well as intensity have a say.

Nearly all gadgets, monitors, and apps present ballpark estimates. You’ll need the professional help of a physio to drive accurate data. However, that won’t be necessary. Harvard Medical School has calculated the calorie expenditure of multiple exercises based on thirty minutes of a sesh.

Stationary Rowing: Average Calories Burned
Body WeightModerate IntensityVigorous Intensity
125 lb210 cal255 cal
155 lb252 cal369 cal

These are general guidelines that can assist you in creating a feasible weight loss scheme. Take further help with this ACE Fitness Calorie Counter. So, how much weight can you lose rowing? You’re advised to reduce consumption and simultaneously hike expenditure by 250 calories to create a daily deficit of 500. The difference will accumulate to 3500 a week and, in other words, 1 pound. 

While you’re at it, have a look at other resourceful calculators in the footer, like Caloric Needs Estimate, Waist Circumference, Percent Body Fat, and Body Mass Index. They can also map your plan and track progress. For example, a 25.0 BMI rating indicates overweight, while crossing 29.9 is a sign of obesity. 

reinforced rowing machine

How to Use a Rowing Machine for Weight Loss?

If anyone asks you, is rowing good for weight loss? You can give a prompt and resounding YES! Now, we’ll discuss practical steps to do so. Here are some tips to commit to the memory before embarking on a transformation journey.

1. Master the Technique

In the starting phase, don’t chase reps and rounds. Your foremost focus should rest on understanding and conquering the technique. There is a slight learning curve with a rowing machine for weight loss. You’d be up to contest in the Olympics as long as you take one step at a time. Indoor rowing is a three-step process after purchasing and setting up a machine.

  1. Catch the oar cable with your arms fully extended, shins perpendicular to the ground, and feet securely strapped down.
  2. Drive back by pressing your legs against the footrests until the seat covers the maximum rail length. Remember to extend your torso.
  3. Prepare for the Finish when grip handles make contact with your abdomen and legs are fully stretched out. 
  4. Recover to the starting position, slowly. Slide toward the pedals with knees bent, arms straight, and torso slightly leaned forward.


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2. Determine the Frequency

As you build your rowing machine workouts for weight loss, decide the frequency. You can do 30-minute sessions five or six times a week. Or alternatively, you can choose to spend twice or thrice as long in one sitting for three days only. The former works best so you don’t strain or exhaust your muscles. In case you can’t spare enough time, the latter approach is also viable. Flanking your routine with 10 minutes of warm-up and cool-down is a must! You can achieve that with stretching, jogging, cycling, or even rowing on a light resistance.

determination of the load frequency on the rowing machine

3. Decide a Training Protocol

Besides frequency, another thing to determine at the beginning is the protocol. Steady-state training is a popular method where you maintain a pace for a certain period. It’s also called endurance training. You should work at a resistance that allows you to talk usually. On the other hand, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) believes in encapsulating hard work in short bouts with recovery downtimes in between. HIIT is a proven weight loss mantra, inducing similar body composition and cardiovascular benefits as moderate-intensity continuous training (MICC).

4. Be Consistent and Dedicated

Achieving a healthy weight, exhibit-worthy abs, or any other fitness goal demands a fair share of consistency, control, and challenge. Stick to your plan. Ramp up resistance and duration once you get comfortable with the status quo. Get the hold of a heart rate monitor. And pursue 70% of your max heart rate and beyond. Don’t compromise your safety, nonetheless. Learn to differentiate between good and bad pain. This paper, published in the Portuguese Journal of Sport Sciences (2011), recommends adjustable rowing machines for obese people in order to optimize comfort and rule out lower back pain.

Tips From the Champ

Concept2 RowErg is a top-tier rowing machine tested in all competitions and conditions. The foldable frame with a 96” x 24” footprint and two height options (14” and 20”) is home gym-friendly as well. It boasts a crazy 500 lb load capacity. A contoured pad gliding seamlessly over a 54″ long rail looks after comfort regardless of one’s height and weight. Besides superior ergonomics, a two-year warranty assures you of its quality.

Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Olympic Weightlifting Champion

How Long Should You Row to Lose Weight?

A rowing machine for weight loss is desirable due to its whole body and seated nature. How long you row depends upon your current fitness level and goals. For instance, beginners would spend less time than intermediate or advanced-level athletes. Those preparing for the Olympics and on-water seafaring will adjust accordingly. The goal is to create a daily calorie deficit of 500 by diet and workout. Rowing can blast 200-400 calories in about half an hour. So, it can be a good timeframe to start.

Regardless of your ultimate goal, the physical activity guideline for Americans mandates 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics each week. Daily rowing sessions of 30 minutes (five days) or 50 minutes (three days) can fulfill this requirement.

rowing machine workout

What Are Rowing Machine Workouts for Weight Loss?

Incorporate full-fledged sessions into your routine once you have conditioned your body for the rowing rhythm. It’s common to do weightlifting, band workouts, or bodyweight exercises in the meantime (as programmed in cross-training WODs). However, these workouts solely represent rowing intervals.

1. Beginner

WorkoutDuration (minutes)Rate (Strokes per Minute)
Main Round524
Cool down7.520

2. Intermediate

WorkoutDuration (minutes)Rate (Strokes per Minute)
Round I324
Round II226
Round III328
Round IV226
Cool down1020

3. Advanced

WorkoutDuration (minutes)Rate (Strokes per Minute)
Round I726
Round II728
Round III726
Cool down1020

You’ll see the elapsed rate and time on your monitor. Mostly, custom programs are also available. Your ultimate ambition should be to row over 7000 meters and 1000 strokes. Kick off with the beginner plan if you’re an amateur or just starting out after a break. For vigorous regimens, you must carry about three months of active experience. Sandwich all plans with 15-20 minutes of light workouts at 18-20 SPM to get muscles acclimated and blood rushed. Feel free to stand up, stretch, or sip your favorite beverage between sessions.

Rowing Machine We Recommend – Concept2 RowErg

Concept2 Rower

Concept2 RowErg is a top-tier rowing machine tested in all competitions and conditions. The foldable frame with a 96” x 24” footprint and two height options (14” and 20”) is home gym-friendly as well. It boasts a crazy 500 lb load capacity. A contoured pad gliding seamlessly over a 54″ long rail looks after comfort regardless of one’s height and weight. Besides superior ergonomics, a two-year warranty assures you of its quality.

Model D Concept2
Photo by @progymsupply

RowErg features unlimited air resistance, ten-point damper technology, and a world-class PM5 Monitor. In addition to onboard data and games, it supports Bluetooth and ANT+ to go with dozens of external apps, including ErgData.


Can You Lose Belly Fat With a Rowing Machine?

You can row your way to a toned and sculpted belly. You can comprehensively target the midsection by throwing push-ups and planks in the mix. Keep in mind weight loss is a holistic phenomenon that occurs bodywide instead of at particular spots. Also, diet is a crucial success factor that you must take into account.

Is 20 Minutes of Rowing Enough?

Consistency is key to weight loss. Whether you do 15 or 20 minutes of rowing, stick to it on planned days. Learn the technique. Once you’ve got the hang of it, increase the intensity and duration of workouts.

Is Rowing Better Than Running for Weight Loss?

As far as weight loss programs are concerned, rowing and running are often stacked against each other. You can burn more calories in less time while running. However, it’s high-impact and stresses your joints. Rowers, on the other hand, are a safer and cozier option with a vast muscle engagement yet. Therefore, it comes down to your preference.


If you’re looking for a high-quality rowing machine built by a proven brand, the Concept2 Model D Rower is the way to go. It does come at a higher price point compared to other indoor rowers but offers excellent durability, functionality, and a wide range of resistance options.

In terms of competition rowers, the Concept2 model D is the gold standard with an air resistance mechanism and damper that responds to each stroke. The range of adjustment options and added comfort features provide an enjoyable rowing experience for beginners up to elite-level athletes.

Have you used the Concept2 Model D rower before? What do you think of my Concept2 Rowing Machine Review? Let’s discuss this in the comments section below.

Also read:


  1. A comparison of energy expenditure during rowing and cycling ergometry // Pubmed:
  2. Effects of Indoor Rowing Exercise on the Body Composition and the Scoliosis of Visually Impaired People: A Preliminary Study // Ncbi:
  3. Effect of Exercise on Fatty Acid Metabolism and Adipokine Secretion in Adipose Tissue// Frontiersin:
  4. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss// ncbi:
  5. Diet, exercise or diet with exercise: comparing the effectiveness of treatment options for weight-loss and changes in fitness for adults (18–65 years old) who are overfat, or obese; systematic review and meta-analysis// Ncbi:
  6. Relationships Among Muscle Characteristics and Rowing Performance in Collegiate Crew Members// Thesportjournal:
  7. Effects of exercise involving predominantly either joint-reaction or ground-reaction forces on bone mineral density in older women // Pubmed:
  8. Sport injuries in international masters rowers: a cross-sectional study// Ncbi:
  9. Incidence of Running-Related Injuries Per 1000 h of running in Different Types of Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis// Ncbi:
  10. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise// Ncbi:
  11. Effects of Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Health// Ncbi:
  12. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights// Health:
  13. Physical Activity Calorie Counter// Acefitness:
  14. Effectiveness of high-intensity interval training for weight loss in adults with obesity: a randomised controlled non-inferiority trial// Ncbi:
  15. How much physical activity do adults need?// Cdc:
  16. How Fat Loss Works// Cdc:

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Olympic Weightlifting Champion

Experience: 21 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 200 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Oleksiy Torokhtiy is a professional athlete boasting 20 years of experience in Olympic weightlifting. With multiple European and World titles under his belt, he has showcased his prowess in two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008 and London 2012). Upon concluding his illustrious career, Oleksiy dedicated himself to coaching. By 2022, he had conducted over 200 weightlifting seminars worldwide. He is the visionary behind an international sportswear and accessories brand known for its motto, “Warm Body Cold Mind.” Additionally, he is an esteemed author and the creator of a series of training programs and eBooks.

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