Rowing For Weight Loss: The Options

Are you looking for a fun and effective way to lose weight and stay in shape? Have you ever considered rowing as an option? Whether you’re brand new to the sport or an experienced rower, rowing can be a great choice for those times when you want to challenge yourself with a workout that won’t leave you bored.

From stationary machines at the gym to rowing on open bodies of water, there are plenty of ways to reap the benefits of this full-body exercise. In this blog post, we’ll look at all your options so that you can find the right type of rowing experience for YOU! So grab your oars and let’s get ready to hit the water (or your living room!).

1. Overview of Benefits of Rowing for Weight Loss 

Rowing is an excellent choice for those seeking a highly effective weight loss workout. The benefits of rowing for weight loss range from calorie burning to muscle toning.

  1. Full-Body Workout: Rowing is a comprehensive workout that simultaneously targets the upper and lower body. This includes back, arms, shoulders, core, glutes, and legs. Engaging more muscles at once burns more calories, contributing to weight loss.
  2. Significant Calorie Burn: Rowing can burn a substantial number of calories. According to various sources, rowing can burn between 400-800 calories per hour, depending on intensity. This makes it comparable to other high-intensity workouts like running or cycling.
  3. Improved Cardiovascular Fitness: Regular rowing increases heart rate and improves cardiovascular health. Improved cardiovascular fitness can boost your metabolism, making your body more efficient at burning calories even at rest.
  4. Increased Muscular Endurance and Strength: Rowing helps improve muscular endurance and strength. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently, which can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
  5. Low-Impact Exercise: Unlike many other forms of cardio, rowing is low impact, meaning it’s easier on your joints. This makes it a good option for people of all fitness levels and those with certain physical limitations.
  6. Versatility: Rowing machines allow for a range of workouts, from steady-state cardio to high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT workouts are particularly effective for weight loss, as they combine intense periods of exercise with short recovery periods, maximizing calorie burn.
  7. Convenience: Indoor rowing machines are compact and suitable for home use, making it easy to incorporate rowing into your regular workout routine, regardless of the weather outside.

2. Types of Rowing Machines 

Rowing machines come in various types, each offering unique benefits that can aid in weight loss. The four main types of rowing machines are air, magnetic, water/fluid, and hydraulic.

Air Rowing Machines

Air rowers are among the most common and are often found in gyms and fitness centers. They use a flywheel to create resistance with air. The harder you pull, the more resistance you feel, mimicking the feel of outdoor rowing. This type of rower allows for a high-calorie burn rate, making it an excellent option for weight loss. However, they can be quite loud due to the spinning flywheel.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowers use magnetic resistance, which is adjustable and doesn’t depend on how hard you pull. This provides a smooth, quiet rowing experience. While they might not mimic the feel of outdoor rowing as closely as air rowers, they still provide a full-body workout that can help burn calories and promote weight loss.

Water/Fluid Rowing Machines

Water rowers use water and paddles to create resistance. The resistance increases as you row harder, similar to how it works with air rowers. Water rowers closely simulate the feel of rowing on water, providing a natural, fluid motion that is easy on the joints. They also provide a robust workout, helping to improve cardiovascular health and burn calories.

Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Hydraulic rowers use cylinders filled with fluid or air to create resistance. These machines are usually more compact and quieter than other types. They’re typically less expensive, making them a good option for home use. While they might not provide as intense a workout as other types, they can still help burn calories and contribute to weight loss.

3. Rowing Workout For Weight Loss

Here’s a rowing workout specifically designed to aid in weight loss. This workout incorporates High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is known for its effectiveness in burning calories and boosting metabolism.


Start with a 5-minute warm-up at a slow, steady pace to get your muscles warmed up and ready for the workout.

Interval 1

Row at maximum effort for 1 minute, aiming to push yourself as hard as you can.

Rest for 1 minute, slowing down your pace but keep rowing to maintain momentum.

Interval 2

Row at maximum effort for 2 minutes, again pushing yourself to your limit.

Rest for 2 minutes, maintaining a slow rowing pace.

Interval 3

Row at maximum effort for 3 minutes. This should be challenging, but try to maintain your pace throughout.

Rest for 3 minutes, keeping a slow, steady rowing pace.

Interval 2

Row at maximum effort for 2 minutes.

Rest for 2 minutes, maintaining a slow rowing pace.

Interval 1

Row at maximum effort for 1 minute.

Rest for 1 minute, maintaining a slow rowing pace.

Cool Down

End with a 5-minute cool-down at a slow pace. This helps your heart rate return to normal and reduces muscle stiffness.

This workout takes around 30 minutes and should get your heart rate up and your muscles working hard. The high-intensity intervals help maximize calorie burn, while the rest periods allow you to recover and prepare for the next interval. Remember to stay hydrated and listen to your body. If you feel dizzy or overly fatigued, slow down or stop your workout.

4. Choosing the Right Rowing Machine for Your Goals 

Choosing the right rowing machine can significantly impact your workout efficiency and how well you achieve your fitness goals. Here are some factors to consider:

Type of Rowing Machine

Different types of rowing machines offer varied experiences and benefits:

  • Air Rowers: Excellent for high-intensity workouts and mimic the feel of outdoor rowing. Ideal if you’re aiming for an intense, full-body workout.
  • Magnetic Rowers: Provide a smooth, quiet rowing experience with adjustable resistance. They’re great for steady-state cardio and endurance training.
  • Water Rowers: Offer a realistic rowing experience with natural, fluid motion. These are excellent for those looking for a real-life rowing simulation.
  • Hydraulic Rowers: Compact and quiet, these are suitable for people with limited space or those seeking a lower-intensity workout.

Fitness Goals

If weight loss is your primary goal, an air or water rower can provide the high-intensity workouts that maximize calorie burn. For toning and strengthening, a magnetic rower with adjustable resistance can be beneficial. If you’re looking for low-impact, gentle exercise, a hydraulic rower might be the best fit.


Rowing machines can range widely in price, with hydraulic rowers typically being the least expensive and water rowers the most costly. Determine your budget first and then explore the best options within that range.


Ensure you have enough space for the rowing machine in your home. While most rowers have a similar footprint, some are more easily stored than others. Some machines fold up or have a vertical storage option, which can be helpful in smaller spaces.

Noise Level

Consider the noise level of the machine, especially if you live with others or have neighbors close by. Magnetic and hydraulic rowers tend to be quieter than air and water rowers.

Durability and Maintenance

Look for a durable rowing machine that requires minimal maintenance. Check reviews and warranties before making your purchase.

Choosing the right rowing machine involves considering your fitness goals, budget, available space, noise tolerance, and the machine’s durability. By weighing these factors, you can find a rower that fits your needs and helps you reach your fitness objectives.

5. Benefits of Other Exercises to Supplement Rowing

Rowing is a fantastic full-body workout, but supplementing it with other exercises can help balance your fitness routine and target specific muscles more intensely. Here are some exercises that complement rowing:

1. Strength Training

Strength training exercises, such as weight lifting or bodyweight exercises, help build muscle strength and endurance. This can enhance your rowing performance by improving your power and stamina. Exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and push-ups can be particularly beneficial.

2. Yoga

Yoga can improve flexibility, balance, and core strength, all of which are important for efficient rowing. It also promotes mindfulness and breath control, which can help with the mental aspect of rowing.

3. Pilates

Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and overall body awareness. A strong core is essential for powerful and efficient rowing strokes.

4. Cycling

Cycling is another form of low-impact cardio that can complement your rowing workouts. It targets the lower body muscles differently than rowing and can help build endurance.

5. Running

Running is a high-impact exercise that strengthens the leg muscles and increases cardiovascular endurance. It can balance out the low-impact nature of rowing, helping to build bone density.

6. Swimming

Swimming is a full-body workout that improves cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone without putting stress on the joints. It can be a great recovery exercise, helping to stretch out and relax the muscles used in rowing.

Incorporating these exercises into your routine can provide a well-rounded fitness regime, enhancing not only your rowing performance but overall health and wellness. Remember, variety keeps your workouts interesting and helps prevent overuse injuries.

Weight loss through rowing may require careful consideration with respect to both the type of exercise and the intensity of implementation. It can be a great way to lose weight but always remember to ensure that you are doing it safely and effectively for maximum benefits. Rowing can be a beneficial, cardio-heavy source of exercise for those who want to shed some pounds and get fit. Ultimately, you should build your personalized weight-loss plan that meets your individual goals and objectives.

Consult with a fitness coach or if self-motivated join an online community that support healthy lifestyle choices. There’s much more than this article dares to encompass, and it’ll take time, research, or trial and error to determine which option is best for you. Be patient, dedicated, and enthusiastic in the pursuit of your health goals! Why not start by reading up on our other articles? They could provide useful information for building healthy habits that will guide you toward an active lifestyle of fitness!