A rowing machine is an incredibly useful piece of fitness equipment. Rowing machines are awesome at what they do, and they can have incredible results when trying to reach most fitness goals. They are low impact and extremely efficient, so what’s not to love? Like with any other cardio exercise, one thing to look at is what it's capable of, and more importantly here, how a rowing machine affects fat loss.

There are a few different things to look at before you can reach a conclusion, but ultimately, all cardio equipment is going to help you achieve your goals if you use them in the right way. The remarkable thing about a rowing machine though is how versatile it can be to get you to them.

Cardio Exercise

Two people using rowing machines

Right off the bat, we, of course, have the cardiovascular exercise that it offers. Cardio is a fundamental of weight loss and of fitness in general, so it’s easily the best place to start when looking at how a rowing machine affects fat loss.

The rowing machine is a great cardio exercise because of the movement it offers and the variability in it. They have various resistance levels so that you can go at your own pace for a tailored workout to suit your needs. You can go for as long as you need to or for a distance of your choice and keep yourself at an excellent fat-burning heart rate. That’s ultimately what it comes down to.

Full Body Workout

Looking deeper into the mechanic of rowing as an exercise, you'll find that it’s so immersive in the number of muscles it recruits in every motion. Rowing is a full body exercise when done right. Any full body exercise means that you’re engaging a huge number of muscles and you’re using a massive amount of calories to do it. That is what is going to make all the difference!

You begin with the initial explosive drive through your legs as you push yourself back, activating your quads and your glutes which then moves through to your core as you transfer the resistance to your lower back, through to your biceps, lats and mid-back.

That is where the rest of the work in bringing the bar to your chest is. Rowing is a huge compound movement which is what leads to such an incredible fat burning exercise, and that makes it a good contender for toning up too.

HIIT potential

Man struggling on a rowing machine

So now that we’ve talked about how great rowing is as an exercise, it’s time to look at how to make the most out of it. There are a lot of options out there that make the rowing machine effective for fat loss.

Cardio is fantastic, but so is HIIT. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is one of the most effective ways to burn a considerable number of calories in the shortest amount of time. It’s hard work, but it pays off so quickly that it’s worth doing.

When rowing, the best way to do HIIT training is to do a timed row, such as 30-second bursts, followed by 1-minute resting time, or any workout of your choice really.

The beauty of the rowing machine, however, means that you can change things up, and even take a 30-second rest every 100 meters rowed so that you can compete with yourself and give your workout a competitive or performance-based edge!

Summary/Combination

It all comes down to the combination of these factors to determine your results. A rowing machine is arguably the most efficient piece of fitness equipment there is when it comes to burning calories and cardiovascular exercise in general.

You’re hitting your whole body all at once with a low impact, compound exercise that has enough variation to make it perfect for anyone of any fitness level. Train smart, choose the right machine, and make the most of your efforts and it will be an awesome tool in your fat loss!

Exercise.co.uk Rowing Machines


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.