A lot of readers ask me “how long should you row on a rowing machine?”
I even get the question, “what is the least amount of time I can spend on a rowing machine?”
These are very difficult questions because there really is no right or wrong answer!
Everyone will be different because everyone has different goals and different time frames for achieving these goals.
People also lose weight differently than others. For example, a person who is “very out of shape” will lose weight a lot easier than someone who exercises a few times a week.
All of these factors change how the question is answered and how long you should use a rowing machine.
While I can give you some rough estimates of how long you should row on a rowing machine, I think the best thing to do is go over some questions to ask yourself.
These questions will help point you to how long you should be rowing everyday.
I can also give you some rough estimates of the type of results to expect from rowing different amounts of times.
What Are Your Rowing Machine Goals?
Outlining and writing down your rowing machine goals is going to be the most important factor to determine your rowing time.
Not having goals before you start to exercise is like walking around blind. You should have specific goals and try to follow the SMART goals guidelines.
A good goal may be, “I want to lose 16 lbs. in 2 months. I will lose 2 lbs. per week and weigh myself every Sunday morning”.
You can use your goals to work backwards into how long you should row on a rowing machine.
How Many Calories Do You Want to Burn?
If you have a specific amount of weight you want to lose, this can help you back into a time per day to spend on the rowing machine.
Let’s take the previous example of losing 16 lbs. in 2 months. This means you want to lose 2 lbs. per week.
There are 3,500 calories in 1 lb., so to lose 2 lbs. per week you would need to lose 7,000 calories a week (3,500 x 2).
You can divide 7,000 calories by 7 days and conclude you need to burn 1,000 calories per day.
So your goal of losing 2 lbs. a week (16 lbs. in 2 months) would require you to create a 1,000 calorie deficit per day.
Now rowing is not the only way to achieve this 1,000 calorie deficit. You can also cut calories by making healthy eating choices!
Just switching your breakfast from a bagel with cream cheese and a cappuccino to a banana and black coffee can cut out over 300 calories!
If you plan to cut out 500 calories from eating healthy, you then only have to row until you burn 500 calories. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on some factors like age, weight, heart rate and rowing intensity.
I have a great article on burning calories with a rowing machine that you can read for more details.
Rowing can also help boost your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day. So you may only need to burn 400 calories from rowing and an extra 100 from your increased metabolic rate from exercise!
Having a weight loss goal and working backwards is a great way to estimate how long you should be using a rowing machine each day.
Hopefully you were able to follow this example and it wasn’t too confusing! If you have a specific situation please leave me a comment below.
What Cardiovascular Benefits Do You Want?
Some people aren’t interested in seeing numbers drop on a scale but instead want better cardiovascular health.
I recently had an email asking “I want to improve my cardio on a rowing machine, how long to see results?”
I had to reply asking, “what type of cardiovascular benefits do you want!?”
Rowing can be used for aerobic exercise (long & slow) and anaerobic exercise (short & fast).
So you can really receive every cardiovascular benefit from rowing. It all depends on your goals, workouts, and how long you want to spend rowing.
Rowing Machine for Anaerobic
If you are looking to improve your anaerobic conditioning, then you will need to spend less time on the rowing machine. Workouts will generally be higher intensity for shorter amounts of time.
Anaerobic exercises can last anywhere between 5-20 minutes.
Doing sprints and high intensity interval training are the best workouts for anaerobic conditioning.
Rowing Machine for Aerobic
If you are looking to improve your aerobic conditioning, then rowing times will generally be longer. I usually perform my steady-state workouts between 45 minutes – 90 minutes.
Intensity and heart-rate will be much lower so you can last the full duration.
No matter what your goal (anaerobic vs. aerobic), you should always mix in different workouts. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can greatly improve your anaerobic conditioning and vice versa.
Do You Want to Build Muscle While Rowing?
Some people may ask “how long should you row on a rowing machine to build muscle?”
Again, it is a difficult question to answer but I can point you in a good general direction.
First, I will say rowing is more of a cardio workout than strength building exercise. To gain a lot of muscle, you will need to supplement rowing with weight training.
If you just want to build lean muscle and become “shredded” or “ripped”, then a rowing machine can achieve this.
The best way to gain lean muscle is to perform HIIT exercises (high intensity interval training). These exercises are very short and intense. They help to “shock” and breakdown your muscle fibers which leads to growth.
Great rowing HIIT exercises can be rowing for 20 seconds as hard as possible, followed by 20 seconds of rest. You then repeat this as many times as you can. Total workout time will be less than 10 minutes.
Either before or after my HIIT exercises I like to do some supplemental exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and kettlebells.
I wrote an article outlining all the muscles used while rowing you can check out.
I also wrote an article explaining how kettlebells and rowing machines are the perfect match!
In my opinion, this is the best way to build lean muscle from rowing and this is how I got into the best shape of my life!
What is the Time Frame For Your Goals?
Having different time frames for your goals can also drastically effect the amount of time you need to spend on the rowing machine, especially for weight loss goals.
If you take the previously example of losing 16 lbs. in 2 months, we calculated you may need to row anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.
However, if you expanded your time frame to 4 months you may only need to spend 15 minutes per day on the rowing machine! You could also use the rowing machine for 30 minutes every other day.
A lot easier to manage!
Giving yourself enough time to achieve your goals is always important. The more time you have, the less stress you will have and the easier it will be to make adjustments to your workout plans.
How Much Time Do You Have to Exercise?
While it is easy to say you must spend 90 minutes a day exercising, I understand that people are busy!
It can be helpful to first figure out how much time a day you have for exercising.
If you have less than an hour a day I recommend auditing all your activities and finding activities that can be removed from your schedule.
This includes things like Facebook, emails, Netflix, reading, TV, etc.. Anything that doesn’t involve your core goals for your family, job, or health should be taken out of your schedule!
If you have a favorite show you like to watch, then watch it while rowing!
I promise you there is always time to exercise. You just have to make it a priority.
Once you figure out how much time you have to workout, I suggest adding it to your schedule and making it a necessary part of your routine.
Building a habit of exercising everyday is the best way to make sure you won’t fail reaching your goal.
What is the Least Amount of Time You Can Row?
I actually get this question a lot! Many readers want to know the least amount of time they can spend on a rowing machine to see results.
First off, I think this is a bad attitude and outlook to have before starting to exercise. You shouldn’t be looking for the easy way out but instead you should create a goal and figuring out the amount of work/time you need to achieve this goal!
However, I believe a person can row for 15-20 minutes per day and start seeing results in a few weeks.
Rowing for 15-20 minutes everyday can help a person lose about 0.5 lbs. per week or more depending on their current state of health.
The more “out of shape” you are, the easier and faster you will be able to lose weight.
You can also start eating a very healthy diet on top of rowing 20 minutes a day and begin seeing very amazing results!
How Long Should You Row on a Rowing Machine?
Hopefully after reading through some of the questions you have a better idea of how long you should row on a rowing machine.
In a nutshell, it comes down to what are your goals and what is the time frame for completing them?
Below I will break down some different rowing machine times per day and goals you can achieve by doing them.
Rowing Machine 15 Minutes a Day
If you use a rowing machine 15 minutes a day and you are trying to lose weight, you will need a longer time frame for your goals.
Rowing 15 minutes a day can burn about 150-300 calories depending on the intensity levels.
This means you can lose 0.5 lbs. per week without dieting. So to lose 10 lbs. you would need a time frame of 20 weeks!
However, rowing 15 minutes a day can often lead to losing more than 0.5 lbs. a week because your body’s metabolism will increase, which will lead to more calories burned overall.
You can also add a healthy diet to lose another 1 lb. per week on top of your rowing machine weight loss.
Rowing intensely for 15 minutes a day can also greatly improve anaerobic conditioning and help build lean muscle.
Rowing Machine 30 Minutes a Day
If you use a rowing machine 30 minutes a day you should be able to lose 1 lb. a week.
I think losing 1 lb. a week is the healthiest way to lose weight and also keep the weight off. I often see many people lose a lot more, but I feel they have a higher chance of putting weight back on due to the weight loss not being sustainable.
A lot of factors come into play while losing weight. A person who is very overweight can easily lose more than 1 lb. a week rowing for 30 minutes a day!
Using a rowing machine 30 minutes a day can also help to improve anaerobic and aerobic conditioning. Most people will see lean muscle development in their core, legs, arms, back, and chest.
Rowing Machine 90 Minutes a Day
Using a rowing machine 90 minutes a day is for serious rowers or people really driven to lose weight.
Rowing for 90 minutes can burn over 1,000 calories per session which adds up to losing 2 lbs. a week from rowing alone.
Using a rowing machine 90 minutes a day will also give your metabolism a huge boost so you may even lose up to 3-4 lbs. a week depending on your current weight and health.
Couple this with a healthy diet and you are on your way to seeing results fast!
Rowing for 90 minutes a day is an excellent aerobic exercise and is great for any long distance training. People who use the rowing machine 90 minutes a day will become lean and very “cut”.
I have read many testimonials of people rowing for 60 – 90 minutes a day and having huge success! The Concept2 website has some examples of people losing over 100 lbs. in 5 months just from rowing!
Check out some of these amazing rowing machine before and after photos!
As you can see, figuring out how long you should row on a rowing machine is not an easy task.
You should first set SMART goals and make sure to have a time frame listed.
From there, you can work backwards into how long you should be rowing everyday and for how many days a week.
Giving yourself more time to achieve your goals always makes achieving the goal a little easier and your workout times a little shorter. It is much easier to row for 20 minutes a day rather than 60 minutes a day!
I know life can be busy but making exercise a priority is the key to leading a healthy life. We only have one body, so it is a good idea to put our health very high on our priority list!
If you need help finding a rowing machine you can fill out my questionnaire and I’ll select the best model for you!
You can also check out my bestselling Concept2 Model D Rower Review. The best rowing machine for weight loss and overall exercise.
If you have specific questions about how long to row on a rowing machine or how long to see results, please leave them in the comment section below.
Each person’s goals are specific and will have a specific answer. I’m always glad to help :)