Will a rowing machine help me lose weight“..will a rowing machine help me lose weight?”

This is a common question I see asked on many different forums scattered across the web.  I also get emails from visitors of Rowing Machine King, so I wanted to answer that question here publicly in case others had the same question.

To answer the question.  It’s Yes. Si. Oui. Ja. Sim. Ken. Sea. Jes. Hai. Ndiyo. 

However you say it, in whatever language, a rowing machine will definitely help you lose weight!


I’ve written articles on the benefits of a rowing machine and what a rowing machine does for your body but I still get asked this question every now and then so I decided to make a whole separate post to address it.

I’ve mentioned it so many times before so I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’m so thankful for the home rowing machine!  I used to be a big runner not too long ago; I ran in numerous races but during my last race I severely injured my knee so I needed to look for another form of cardiovascular exercise that didn’t kill my joints, specifically my knees and ankles and that’s when the rowing machine stepped in!

Not only did a rowing machine help me lose weight, it’s the main reason why I’m in the best shape of my life (and that’s a strong statement since I used to be a pretty decent runner)!

There really is no substitute for a full-body workout, especially one that preserves your joints and incorporates some kick-butt cardio… at the same time.  But don’t just take my word for it:

Do you remember the movie ‘300’ starring Gerard Butler?  He was ripped in that movie wasn’t he?  As part of his workout routine to get in shape for the movie guess what he used… you betcha!  He said that he loves the rowing machine and it’s what put his body over the top.  You can watch the Men’s Health interview here.

Here are some other comments regarding rowing machines I pulled from the web:

I lost almost 30 pounds in 3 months and my arms and back muscles are very defined already. I had to start working on all the complementary muscles with weights to avoid looking weird 😉 (source: http://www.myfitnesspal.com)

Indoor rowing was my weight loss “magic bullet” in terms of exercise, the activity I found that I could enjoy and maintain, and that would give me the results I was looking for.  The combination of a workout whose intensity I could vary just with the effort I put onto the flywheel and the stroke’s meditative, rhythmic synchronicity was irresistible.  Once I built up to being able to work with good effort on the rowing machine I started to see big changes happen, both in terms of losing weight and getting stronger. (source: http://ucanrow2.com/about-us/sarahs-story/)

“It’s probably the best piece of workout equipment in the gym,” said Dr. Timothy Hosea of the American College of Sports Medicine. “It’s a total fitness machine. Unlike running or elliptical, where you use your legs, you exercise every major muscle group in the body in a smooth, controlled manner.” (source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sc-health-0817-rowing-machine-20110817,0,1475067.story)

No matter what type of exercise machine/ routine you use/ follow, in order to lose weight and get the kind of results you really want you will need to also watch your diet, there’s no way around that. Many experts say that a general rule of thumb is that weight loss is around 75% diet and 25% exercise. Cutting calories by making smart diet choices is far easier than burning them on the rower. However, a combination of a smart diet and great workout program is the best combination for seeing great results.

Will a rowing machine help me lose weight

Many experienced rowers have different philosophies about what rowing machine exercises burn the most fat. The two categories are “steady-state” workouts, where you row at a medium pace/ resistance for a long period of time, and “HIIT” (hight intensity interval training) workouts, where a user rows very hard for an interval then slows down for a period and keeps repeating this cycle. My philosophy is to incorporate both into your workout routine in different time periods. Maybe do steady-state workouts for a month and then HIIT workouts for a few weeks. This will not only help you get the different benefits from both techniques but also help to switch things up and prevent you from getting bored. The two different fat burning rowing machine workouts I use are:


  1. Adjust the rower to a medium resistance (about 60-70% of your max capacity)
  2. Begin rowing at what you consider a medium pace
  3. Keep this pace for 30-45 minutes aiming for a heart rate of 120-150 beats per minute

Playlist Punisher (HIIT Workout):

  1. Warm up for 2-3 minutes at a medium level (about 60-70% of your max capacity)
  2. Sprint or row as hard as possible for 1 minute while listening to your favorite track (90-100% of your max capacity)
  3. Rest for 1 minute or longer until your heart rate comes back down
  4. Repeat until you hit 20 minutes or your desired time

The steady-state rowing machine workout is an aerobic exercise that burns calories stored from fat. This workout will technically burn more calories during the workout than HIIT but many professionals believe HIIT is superior for fat burning. This is because HIIT workouts are anaerobic and workouts are fueled by your stored carbohydrates. The very intense workout also elevates your metabolism for hours and sometimes days after your workout.

For more great workouts check out these rowing machine programs.

Check out this article for a great breakdown between the fat burning pros and cons of Steady-State vs. HIIT.

With that being said, based on personal experience there’s just no better way of getting in shape than with a rowing machine.  So what are you waiting for?  Go out there and get yourself a rowing machine!!!

Need help choosing which machine? Check out our rowing machine comparison chart to help you decide!


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