Written by James Cooper
Last Updated

When it comes to burning calories, not all exercise machines are made the same. If you are fed up with traipsing on a treadmill for an hour only to have burned 200 calories, you are not alone and you might want to consider swapping the treadmill for a rowing machine

An indoor rowing machine copies the same motion as someone rowing a boat on the water and it manages to engage all the muscles across the body. The good news is it’s also a real calorie burner and can burn them in as little as ten minutes. 


How Many Calories Can I Burn While Rowing?

There are three main factors which will impact how many calories you can burn while using your rowing machine and these are: 


Your Weight

The more you weigh the harder your body has to work on the rowing machine. So, if you need to lose weight this fact will actually help you burn more calories on the rowing machine at the start. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn while rowing as you use up more energy.


Length of Workout

The longer you exercise, the more calories you will burn up. If you use the rowing machine steadily for half an hour you will burn more calories than in a steady ten-minute session, for example. However, on a rowing machine a half-hour steady workout could still burn around 300 calories for you.


Workout Intensity

If you row at a vigorous pace for a short time, you are likely to burn more calories than rowing at a slow pace for a long time. It’s good to mix it up but the more intensely you work out, the more calories you will burn. You could try the HIIT workout option below every other day or so, to add that required variety to your rowing machine workout.

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Can You Do HIIT on a Rowing Machine?

HIIT refers to high-intensity interval training and it is entirely possible to do this on your rowing machine and it will help to burn more calories. One of the benefits of HIIT is that your body continues to burn calories after the workout has ended, which is what makes it such a popular technique for those trying to lose weight. 

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On a rowing machine, you could try rowing hard for 30 seconds, then rowing much more slowly for the next minute, then repeat that cycle around ten times to get the maximum benefit. Doing this for around 20 minutes could burn off as much as 300 calories. 

Make sure you are using the correct form and only do the high-intensity workout if you have the overall fitness and stamina to cope with this level of exercise. If you are very unfit you will be better off starting out steadily and building up to trying out the HIIT technique.


What About Rowing Steadily?

While you will burn fewer calories than HIIT, rowing for a longer period at a steady pace can also bring great health benefits, helping you to increase your stamina and overall fitness levels as well as burning off calories. 

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If you are new to rowing or just starting out on a new fitness routine, then rowing steadily for longer periods is the best approach to take as you build up your stamina and improve your overall fitness levels. Don’t try to do too much too soon or you will end up hurting yourself. 

Here are some tips on how to make sure you burn the maximum number of calories during your rowing workout.


  • Keep your stroke per minute rate high to make sure you are using up as much energy as possible. Your rate should be around 24 per minute to help you burn those calories.
  • Keep variety in your workouts as if you just do the same old routine each time, your body will get used to it and therefore won’t need to work so hard to achieve it. You need your body to be working hard if you want to burn calories.


  • Make sure you are rowing correctly and that you are using the correct form. It’s important not only for efficiency with burning calories but also to make sure you don’t suffer from any injuries while using your rowing machine. 


You need to look at your posture throughout the rowing motion and make sure you are not rounding your back or leaning into it. The movements should be coming from your legs and your arms rather than your back. 

There are plenty of online videos you can watch to make sure you are following the correct techniques and you could try rowing in front of a mirror until you are sure you have the correct form in place.



If you are looking to buy a new piece of kit for your home gym and you want to burn calories faster than on a treadmill, then you might want to consider a rowing machine instead. They can burn around 300 calories within half an hour, depending on your workout intensity levels. 

The other really good thing about rowing machines is they now only give you a great cardio workout, but they also use every single muscle in your body, so in terms of improving your overall fitness levels they are a great investment for any home gym. 

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It might be that you don’t have space at home to have a rowing machine, but you might like to try getting on one at your local gym instead of just heading straight for the exercise bikes or the cross trainer, you could try the rowing machine. 

If you have never used one before then ask a trainer at the gym to show you how to use it and the correct form so that you don’t end up with backache and you really make the most of what this incredible exercise machine can achieve for you. 


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