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Losing Weight With A Rowing Machine

Man Rowing On Indoor Rower

If you’re someone who would like to lose a few pounds, you need to consider your exercise options. In order to see maximum success with any weight loss plan, you should be including both diet and exercise as part of your regimen.


Some people choose to only diet and not exercise while others choose to only exercise and diet. This is less than ideal for a couple of reasons. If you just diet and don’t exercise, you won’t be doing anything to prevent the loss of lean muscle tissue. So you may lose weight, but you’ll lose both fat as well as muscle mass. If you just exercise but don’t diet, there’s a good chance you won’t lose any weight at all as you may just consume more calories, thus you’ll maintain your weight. Therefore, a combination approach is best. And, there’s no other exercise better to help you lose weight than rowing.


Here’s why a rowing machine can help you lose weight successfully and how to get started using one for weight loss purposes.


The Calorie Burn

The first way in which a rowing machine can help you lose weight is through it’s calorie burn. In order to lose weight successfully, you do need to burn more calories than you consume. So anything that helps you up your total daily calorie burn is going to be good news for helping you realize success. The calorie burn factor of the rowing machine is quite high. Because you are working both the upper as well as the lower body at once, this means you get more muscle fibers working in every single rep you take and more energy burned.


It’s not abnormal at all to see people burning between 80-120 calories per 10 minutes on the rowing machine, which adds up to 460 to 720 calories per hour. This is much better than walking or jogging, which would have you burning around 360-650 per hour depending on the intensity. Jogging only uses your lower half so that is why you see a lower total calorie burn from it. Do keep in mind though that your calorie burn will be directly related to how hard you are exercising, so if you aren’t exercising all that intensely, you won’t be seeing that great of a calorie burn.


The EPOC Factor

We also need to look at and consider the EPOC factor. This essentially refers to how many calories you will burn after the workout takes place. The more intense a workout session is, the greater this post-workout calorie burn can possibly be. If you are working very hard, you can expect to burn calories at a faster rate for up to 48 hours after your workout session is over. If you workout less intensely, the post workout calorie burn will be lower. You may only get a 24 hour spike or even a 12 hour spike. So you do really have the power to dictate this and what happens in your situation.


A workout on a rowing machine involves both the upper and lower body at almost all intensity levels, so you can expect a better post workout calorie burn than if you did a piece of cardio equipment that only used the lower body. This alone immediately gives rowing machines a tactical advantage in assisting with weight loss. One of the best weight loss tools out there is high intensity interval sprint training, which involves you going as hard as you can for a brier period of time and then doing a lower intensity rest interval in between. This produces a sky-high EPOC and can have you seeing better results for many hours ahead.


The Muscle Preserving Potential

The next reason why the rowing machine stacks up very well for helping you lose weight is because it helps to preserve your lean muscle mass tissue. Above, we spoke about the fact that if you are just dieting and not exercising, your risk of muscle mass loss is high. This is bad news because your muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in the body. So if you lose it, your resting metabolic rate will decrease, making it harder to control your bodyweight in the future. By preserving lean muscle, you will sustain the weight loss more easily and will also be able to eat more calories on a day to day basis. No one wants to come off their diet only to find out they have to continue eating only 1300 calories per day to now maintain their body weight.


The unfortunate thing though is that some types of activities, such as running for instance, don’t necessarily stop this loss of lean tissue. In fact, if you are dieting hard enough and then add running to the mix, this could in fact increase your risk of lean muscle mass loss. Rowing however, because you are working against resistance while you do it, combats this. Any time you add resistance, you are giving your body a reason to maintain your muscle strength, therefore, muscle loss is unlikely.


Woman Rowing On Rowing Machine


The Low Injury Risk

Finally, the last great benefit of the rowing machine as far as weight loss goes is the fact that it offers a low risk of injury. When doing the rowing machine, you aren’t getting the high impact forces you would with walking or jogging so there’s less of a chance that you’ll be sidelined because of injury.

If you’re side-lined, this will really put the breaks on your weight loss goals, so clearly is less than ideal.


Using A Rowing Machine To Lose Weight

So now that you can see all the many reasons why the rowing machine is beneficial for helping you reach your weight loss goals, how do you go about using it to see success? First, determine your target calorie intake. This comes first. Are you someone who doesn’t get bothered too much by hunger? Do you feel okay when you begin cutting calories? If the answer to those questions is yes, you can likely use quite an aggressive diet. This means you won’t have to do as much exercise as someone who doesn’t do so well when their calorie intake goes down.


Remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about creating the right calorie deficiency. So if you exercise more, you can eat more and still get to the same number as you would if you exercise less but eat less. You just need to choose the path you take. Keep in mind as you do that it takes 3500 calories to burn off one pound of fat, so for most people, this means creating that deficiency of 500 calories per day (to lose at the safe rate of one pound per week). This means you could have 300 calories coming from rowing and 200 coming from reduced food intake or 100 calories coming from reduced food intake and 400 calories coming from rowing. Choose any set-up you’re comfortable with.


Once you know that, then you need to determine your workouts. I would suggest a mix of interval training sessions (provided you are at the fitness level to do so) and steady state cardio training. It’s important to have some lower intensity days in there as these will help ensure that you are getting adequate rest between sessions and not risking overtraining syndrome. Especially when on a fat loss diet and taking in less total calories than you normally would, you will find that your exercise volume capabilities decrease. Meaning, you can’t do quite as much as you did when you were dieting.


Most people who are dieting should aim for 3-4 days of using the rowing machine per week. Any more than this and it may get to be too much to be recovering from. If you do find that this is getting to be a bit too much, then you may drop down to just 2-3 days per week, or consider decreasing the total duration of the days you are doing the rowing. If you are going for 45 minutes for instance, try 30 and see how that feels. Two of those days should be higher intensity training while two others should be lower intensity training. Then on 1-2 other days during the week, you can focus on doing cross training activity (going for a walk, swimming, doing yoga, etc.) to give your body a different type of stimulus and break from rowing. This leaves one day off per week for total rest and recuperation.


It may feel hard to rest that one day as your mind may tell you to keep exercising, but really do your best to do so. It will pay off when you restart the next week feeling fresh and ready to go forward. So there you have the main points to know about how to lose weight using the rowing machine. If you combine the rowing machine exercise with a sound diet, you really can’t go wrong and will be on track to seeing some excellent results from your efforts. Remember that weight loss is a natural progression though and will not happen overnight. Patience is key to stick with the program over the long term.

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