In a world full of busy bees, finding the time to take part in a full-body, calorie-burning workout can be a big challenge. From long work hours to school pickups, it’s no wonder exercise can sometimes fall on the back burner.
To help squeeze some physical activity into what always seems like not enough hours in the day, many have turned to rowing as an efficient, low-impact, and calorie-burning workout. But how many calories, exactly, do you burn on a rowing machine?
Learn more below about why indoor rowers are notorious for burning more calories in just a fraction of the time — and why many people are now choosing them over other cardio gym equipment.
How many calories does a rowing machine burn? Well, it depends.
While it would be great to have a hard-and-fast rule for exactly how many calories you can expect to torch in a rowing machine workout, there are multiple factors that can affect the number of calories you burn on a rowing machine.
However, the three most important factors to consider here include:
Your weight: The more you weigh, the harder your body will have to work to perform the same task. When your body has to work harder, you will naturally burn more calories.
Your workout duration: When you engage in any exercise for a more extended period of time, it will result in more calories burned. Think about it: If you row for longer periods of time, like 30 minutes, you’ll burn more calories than if you rowed for just 10 minutes.
Your workout intensity: The intensity at which you exercise plays a role in the number of calories you burn as well. Rowing vigorously might be tough, but you’ll find that you’re burning more calories in a shorter period of time when you give it your all compared to rowing at a more leisurely pace for a longer period of time. Remember, maximum effort over maximum time will yield maximum calorie burn.
So, how many calories can you burn on a rowing machine? The answer is: It varies. To get an idea of what you can expect, check out our handy chart below, which includes calorie values tabulated by running data from the Compendium of Physical Activities through Cornell University’s METs to Calories Calculator.
[Chart] Calories Burned by Rowing
Moderate effort (100 watts) for 30 minutes:
Vigorous effort (150 watts) for 30 minutes:
Very vigorous effort (200 watts) for 30 minutes:
Rowing machines vs. treadmills: Calories burned
For many people thinking about trying out a new type of workout equipment with the goal of burning calories, they immediately turn to a treadmill. However, treadmills aren’t for everyone, especially when it feels like you’re spending a ton of time running only to very slowly burn calories. Other people find that treadmills are too high-impact for them, putting strain on their joints or aggravating any injuries as their feet hit the treadmill.
Rowing machines, on the other hand, are a low-impact way to get your heart pounding and blood flowing by mimicking the motion of rowing on the water. Rowing machines offer exciting and explosive workouts that engage multiple muscle groups across the entire body, burning more calories in as little as 10 minutes per session.
How to burn more calories on a rowing machine
If you’re looking to burn more calories using a rowing machine, here are a couple of tips that can help:
Focus on your stroke rate
Switch up your workouts
Focus on proper form
Try both HIIT and steady-state rowing workouts
Let’s dig in more!
1. Focus on your stroke rate
One way to burn more calories on a rowing machine is to pay close attention to your stroke rate. This doesn’t refer to just sliding up and down as fast as possible on the rail, but rather getting your flywheel to spin faster to create more power. If you want to burn the most calories, we recommend focusing on staying at a strokes per minute (SPM) rate of 24 to 30.
Related Read: How to Calculate the Right Pace Windows
2. Switch up your workouts
Alternating your routine every couple of weeks will also help you burn more calories through your rowing workouts. While it’s great to do workouts you know and love, be sure to mix it up every once in a while so your body doesn’t become too accustomed to your specific exercise routine.
The more you do the same routine, the more efficient your body becomes at performing your workout — and the more efficient your body is at performing the workout, the lower your heart rate will be, causing you to burn much fewer calories.
Related Read: Hydrow for Cross-Training
3. Focus on proper form
To burn the most calories and maximize your rowing workout, proper form is of the utmost importance. Luckily, nailing down proper rowing technique boils down to just four simple steps:
The Catch: Sometimes referred to as the “ready” or “start” position, the name comes from the point at which the blade of the oar would “catch” the water on a boat. To complete this motion correctly, sit tall on your rowing machine with your arms straight and your back upright. Your knees and ankles should be flexed so your shins are vertical. From there, use your lats to pull your shoulders down and brace your core. Then, lean slightly forward, still keeping your back in an upright position.
The Drive: Start by pushing with your legs while still contracting and bracing your core. When your legs are straight, lean back to about 45 degrees, hinging at the hips. The last movement in this motion is from your arms as you pull the handle toward your chest a couple of inches above your belly button.
The Finish: This refers to the resting position opposite of the Catch position — however, you won’t rest here for long! Your legs are long, your back and shoulders are leaning away from the legs, your hands are firmly gripping the handlebar and are pulled in toward the body, and your elbows are tucked in toward your torso.
The Recovery: This is the final motion. Here, you’ll do the Drive movements in reverse order to take you back to the Catch position. Extend your arms, hinge your hips forward to bring your torso over your legs, then bend your knees, with your shins vertical to the ground.
4. Try both HIIT and steady-state rowing workouts
Not all rowing machine workouts are the same, and burning calories on your rowing machine can be helped by incorporating different workout types into your regimen. For example, both HIIT and steady-state rowing workouts are beneficial and ideal for improving your cardiovascular health and burning calories.
What is HIIT rowing?
If you’re one to keep up with the exciting world of fitness, chances are you have heard about high-intensity interval training, commonly referred to as “HIIT.” HIIT workouts come with many benefits, including an “afterburn effect” that can help you continue to burn calories long after your workout.
Applying HIIT principles to your rowing workout is easy. For example, you can row as hard as you can for 30 seconds, giving it maximum effort, followed immediately by 60 seconds of rowing at a much slower pace to bring your heart rate back down. Repeat this cycle 10 times.
What is steady-state rowing?
Did you know that rowing steadily at a moderate intensity can help to build endurance? Having good endurance can benefit you in many ways, such as:
Increased stamina for everyday activities
Improved balance and coordination
Muscle mass growth stimulation
Using a steady-state approach, you would row at what you might consider a medium pace, keeping your maximum heart rate at about 65% to 75% for the entire duration of your workout.
While this range is technically considered the “fat-burning zone” because fat is emphasized more as an energy source while operating within it, HIIT does provide a more significant fat-burning upside when you factor in the afterburn effect.
Calories burned on rowing machines: Final thoughts
If you want to burn calories without giving up a lot of your time, an indoor rower is a fantastic option for you. You no longer have to spend over an hour of your time on traditional cardio machines to burn a sufficient amount of calories, as just 30 minutes on an indoor rower can help you burn up to a whopping 300 calories, depending on your weight and intensity.
If you are considering buying an indoor rowing machine, it’s also important to consider that not all machines are created equal. For instance, Hydrow rowers are designed to create a compelling pathway to whole health for individuals of all fitness levels, providing a means for everyone to access the soothing experience and holistic benefits of rowing without actually having to get into a boat.
Hydrow is all about bringing the powerful impact of rowing directly to you, including the sights and sounds of being on the water, paired with challenging workouts and guidance from world-class Athletes. We’re excited to help get you started on your journey not only into the world of rowing, but into a community of like-minded rowers looking to both challenge and support each other along the way.