How many calories do you burn on a rowing machine?

Peter Donohoe

The most effective way to lose body weight and shed body fat is to expend more calories than you consume. By reducing your caloric intake by being conscious of what you eat and increasing the number of calories you burn by taking part in vigorous exercise, you’re more likely to burn fat and finally see the weight loss you've been waiting for.

However, in a world full of busy bees, finding the time to take part in a calorie-burning full-body workout can be a big challenge for many. From long work hours to teacher-parent conferences, it’s no wonder exercise can sometimes fall on the back burner. With what seems like not enough hours in the day, it’s understandable why getting to the gym to run at a moderate pace for 60 minutes on the treadmill just to burn 200 calories, isn’t really a priority. 

The good news is that a rowing machine might be the answer you've been looking for. 

Indoor rowers are notorious for offering quick, effective low-impact workouts for burning more calories in just a fraction of the time. 

The Rowing Machine

When you think about cardio and trying to burn calories, what is the first thought that comes to mind? For most, it's a treadmill. However, the treadmill isn’t for everyone, especially when it feels like your body burns calories so slowly even after a long period of time spent running. 

Alternatively, one of the most effective ways to get your heart pounding and blood flowing also happens to be impact-free: the rowing machine. 

An indoor rower - also known as an ergometer - is an incredible machine that mimics the motion of rowing on the water. A rowing machine workout can offer an exciting and explosive workout that engages multiple muscle groups across the entire body, burning more calories in as little as ten minutes per session. 

What Impacts Calories Burned on a Rowing Machine?

Many different things can impact the number of calories you burn on a rowing machine. However, the three most important factors to consider are weight, duration, and intensity. 

Weight: The heavier you are, the harder your body will have to work in order to perform the same task, and when your body has to work harder, you will naturally burn more calories. 

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 like 30 minutes, you’ll burn more calories than someone who only rowed for 10 minutes. 

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 will find that you’ll burn more calories in a shorter period of time when you give it your all than if you were to row at a slow leisurely pace for a more extended period of time. Remember, maximum effort over maximum time will yield maximum calorie burn.

So, how many calories can one burn on a rowing machine? The answer is: it varies.

Calories Burned Rowing Charts*

Moderate effort (100 watts) for 30 minutes:


100 lbs

125 lbs

150 lbs

175 lbs

200 lbs

225 lbs

250 lbs









Vigorous effort (150 watts) for 30 minutes:


100 lbs

125 lbs

150 lbs

175 lbs

200 lbs

225 lbs

250 lbs









Very vigorous effort (200 watts) for 30 minutes:


100 lbs

125 lbs

150 lbs

175 lbs

200 lbs

225 lbs

250 lbs









*Calorie values tabulated by running data from the Compendium of Physical Activities through Cornell University’s METs to Calories Calculator. 

What is HIIT Rowing?

If you are 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 comes with many benefits, including an “afterburn effect” that can help you to continue burning calories long after your workout. Applying HIIT principles to a rowing workout is easy. A good example would be to row as hard as you can for thirty seconds, giving it your all with maximum effort, followed immediately by 60 seconds of rowing at a much slower pace to bring your heart rate back down. Repeat this cycle ten times. 

If you give a HIIT workout a try on the rowing machine, be sure to bring your water along with a sweat rag, because, in just 20 minutes, you can burn over 300 calories

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, and even 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 - 75% for the entire duration of your workout. While this range is technically considered the “fat-burning zone” because fat is emphasised more as an energy source while operating within it, HIIT provides a more significant overall fat-burning upside when you factor in the after burn effect. However, both HIIT and the steady-state approach prove to be beneficial and are ideal for improving your cardiovascular health and helping with calorie burning.

How to Burn the Most Calories While Using a Rowing Machine

Want to burn more calories while using a rowing machine? Here are a couple of tips that can help.

1. Focus on 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. Focus staying at a stroke per minute rate of 24-30 to burn the most calories. 

2. Switch up your workouts. Alternating your routine every couple of weeks will help your body to not become accustomed to your exercise routine. The more you do the same routine; the more efficient your body becomes at performing the 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. 

To burn the most amount of calories and maximize your workout, proper form is of the utmost importance. Luckily, nailing down proper rowing technique boils down to just four simple steps: The Catch, The Drive, The Finish, and The Recovery.

The Catch The first motion is called the Catch but is 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 the rowing machine with your arms straight and back upright. Your knees and ankles should be flexed so that your shins are vertical. From there, use your lats to pull your shoulders down and brace your core. Then, slightly lean forward, still keeping your back in an upright position. 

The Drive The next motion is known as 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 towards your chest, a couple of inches above your belly button. 

The Finish The Finish is the resting position opposite of the Catch position - however, you won’t rest here for long.

Legs are long, back and shoulders are leaning away from the legs, hands are firmly gripping the handlebar and are pulled in toward the body, and elbows are tucked in toward the torso. 

The Recovery The final motion is called the Recovery. To do it correctly, do the Drive movements in reverse order to take you back to the Catch position. 

Extend the arms, hinge your hips forward to bring the torso over the legs, then bend the knees, with shins vertical to the ground.

In Conclusion

If you want to burn calories without giving up a lot of your time, an indoor rower can help. These incredible machines are used worldwide every day to help people reach their personal fitness goals. You no longer have to spend over an hour of your time on traditional cardio machines to burn a sufficient amount of calories. Just 30 minutes on an indoor rower can help you to burn up to 300 whopping calories. 

If you are considering an indoor rowing machine, it’s also important to keep in mind that not all machines are created equal. The Hydrow Rower was 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, all combining to provide a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

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. 


Did you know: one of the most proven and effective ways to lose weight is to use a rowing machine? Learn more about the benefits of rowing machines on weight loss.

Peter Donohoe

Peter is our head strength and movement specialist. As an Olympian, conditioning coach, and corrective exercise specialist, Peter’s methodology continues to influence the movement of athletes from many sports. Join Peter for On the Mat workouts and benefit from increased mobility and enhanced performance.