Almost everybody suspects that rowing machines are good for weight loss. You, too, may have a loved one or colleague who lost astonishing amounts of weight in just a couple of months of rowing.
But is there any truth in that? And what’s the science behind it?
We’ll dig through the mountains of data, myths, and anecdotal evidence to bring you the truth. We’ll tell you how many calories you’ll burn on your rower, how fast you can lose ten pounds, and how to accelerate your weight loss.
Keep reading below!
How Many Calories Does Rowing Burn?
According to Healthline, rowing burns:
- 214-357 calories/ hour at low intensity
- 427-714 calories/ hour at moderate intensity
- 519-867 calories/ hour at vigorous intensity
These numbers depend on a slew of other factors besides workout intensity, such as your current weight, age, and BMR (basal metabolic rate). The machine you’re using and the surrounding temperature will affect your progress too.
Let’s analyse two examples:
A 40-year-old sedentary person weighing 135 pounds will burn 200-500 calories/ hour on their rower, depending on the exercise intensity.
Conversely, a 20-year-old person weighing 225 pounds and who is used to physical effort may burn 350-800 calories/ hour on the same rower.
The explanation is simple:
- You have a high metabolic rate if you’re very young and if you’re used to exercising. Your BMR slows down naturally every year once you’re past 25. Besides, lack of exercise means your body is already used to storing excess carbs instead of using them as energy.
- You will burn more calories if you’re heavy because your body has ample energy stores to use. But if you’re slim already, your body doesn’t have excess energy stores to burn.
How Long Should I Row To Lose Weight?
The rule of thumb is that 3,500 calories burnt equal one pound of fat. So, if you’re rowing at moderate intensity, you need 2-3 hours to burn shed a pound of fat. If you’re rowing at low power, you need 5-7 hours for this.
Experts recommend 3-4 sessions of rowing/ week, each of 30-60 minutes.
- You can burn one pound of fat/ week if you’re rowing at moderate intensity
- You can burn one pound of fat/ two weeks if you’re rowing at low intensity
The hard basic math looks something like this:
If you want to lose 10 pounds, you’ll need 10-20 weeks. If you’re going to lose 50 pounds, you need up to a year of constant rowing.
But here’s the thing:
If you’re rowing at high resistance levels, you’re creating lean muscle mass. This lean muscle mass accelerates your BMR so that you can lose more weight even when you’re resting.
And that means you can lose those 10 pounds much faster than the original 10-20 weeks we calculated.
Warning: Don’t try to over-exercise to shed those pounds faster.
You already saw that cold math can fail.
So don’t try to squeeze those 10-20 hours of rowing associated with a 10-pound loss in two days.
You can get injured, dehydrated, and your muscles will suffer. Even if you see some progress, you’ll body will store more calories throughout the rest of the week to repair your muscles and restore your energy.
That’s why the best approach to weight loss is the long-term one.
Do Rowing Machines Burn Belly Fat?
The short answer is yes, rowing machines burn belly fat because they help you burn overall fat. Here’s how that’s done:
We previously discussed some factors that influence how many calories you burn when you’re rowing, but we omitted these two: room temperature and type of rower.
1. Exercising in a cold environment can accelerate fat loss
Healthline claims that the surrounding temperature influences weight loss. We argue that your room temperature can accelerate fat loss.
Before we look at the science, let’s expose this myth:
You can’t target belly fat.
You can only lose belly fat if you lose overall fat. And you can only lose overall fat if you’re taking the long-term approach.
Now that we have this settled, let’s look at three perspectives:
According to anecdotal evidence, the hotter it is, the more you’ll sweat. And the more you sweat, the more weight you’ll lose.
However, research proves that this road to weight loss is dangerous.
Firstly, you can become dehydrated quickly. And secondly, you’ll lose mostly water weight. So after the momentum is gone, you’ll deal with a hugely demoralising weight loss plateau.
Some studies show that a moderate temperature is the best solution. Extreme cold or extreme heat impairs exercise performance. That means you’re less likely to lose weight because you can’t focus on your workout.
Other studies focus on the impact of cold temperature on exercise performance. Temperature training can become a new tool to fast weight loss as scientists purport a link between high BMRs and cold environmental temperatures.
More interestingly, exercising in a cold room may lead to fat loss, not just weight loss, according to the same study.
So, if you want to trim your abs, make sure to turn down that thermostat instead of trying to sweat it out!
2. You can burn more fat if you use the suitable rowers
We’re not going to explain why it’s essential to choose a quality rower. It’s easy to surmise that working out on an uncomfortable, poorly-built machine affects your posture and leads to injury.
Instead, the suitable rowers for burning fat are the ones that produce more resistance.
Magnetic rowing machines allow you to select a high resistance, and so you’ll push against it throughout your workout. The higher that resistance, the more lean muscle you’ll create.
Compare that, for example, with air rowers. Air rowers will produce higher resistances if you’re rowing fast. This resistance decreases if your strokes are light.
So, if your goal is to lose fat weight and trim your belly, one objective should be to build strong muscles.
Another would be to eat cleanly, but that’s a whole other story.
Is Rowing Good For Weight Loss In The Long-Term?
Yes, rowing is good for weight loss in the long term.
Just like we proved above, rowing accelerates your metabolic rate. According to Harvard Health, that’s important because you burn 60-75% of your daily calories when you’re resting.
So you want to maximise that number.
Rowing machines help you do that because a) they’re creating lean muscle mass and b) they’re burning through your fat stores.
As you know, muscles have smaller volumes than fat, and they also need more energy. Thus, the more muscles you have, the more weight you’ll lose and the slimmer you’ll look.
In Conclusion. Do Rowing Machines Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, rowing machines help you lose weight, but you’ll have to do your part.
Remember to listen to your body and choose workouts that feel challenging without also feeling painful. Eat a nourishing diet without over-restricting your calories.
But more importantly, get a suitable rowing machine for your needs. Consider your preexisting health problems and your fitness goals.
For example, some rowers are great for intense aerobic workouts and quick weight loss. Others are best for long-term fat loss and muscle sculpting.
Remember: there are millions of paths to weight loss so select a trusted companion for this unique journey.