How Many Calories Can You Burn On A Rowing Machine?

First of all, it must be clarified that, like any other fitness tool, the rowing machine does not help to lose weight or to lose weight, but rather it helps “only” to burn calories.

And you lose weight only when the overall calories burned are higher than those overall consumed through food.

That said, the rowing machine is certainly one of the best tools  (if not “the best”) to do a cardio activity and to burn “a lot” of calories by working all the main muscle groups of the body.

On the other hand, it must be said that the types of training that can be done on the rower are so varied, in terms of duration, intensity of rowing, etc., that it is not always easy to make a calculation, or rather an estimate. , of the energy / calories you consume when you train.

Let’s not forget that, in this calculation / estimate, age, physical fitness, sex and weight of people also come into play.

In this article I will tell you about calories, how to burn them with the rowing machine, how to calculate them, how to optimize exercises on the rowing machine with a view to weight loss.

I will try to be clear, simple and rigorous, without boring you with unnecessary information and technicalities.

After all, if you are reading this article, I think you have a concrete interest in training and losing weight in a conscious and correct way, and not of theories.

Calories, basal metabolic rate and weight loss

To understand how your body burns fat with the rowing machine, we need to first step back and start talking about calories.


Calories are the unit of measurement of energy and, consequently, the calories consumed or “burned” are the measure of the energy consumed by the body.

A calorie is defined as the energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of distilled water by one degree centigrade (from 14.5 ° to 15.5 ° C) – to the pressure of an atmosphere.

Our body continuously consumes – or burns – calories for every single activity we perform throughout the day.

You must know that even every single “basic activity” of our organism needs energy: from the single breath to the healing of a wound. Even just thinking or dreaming determines an energy expenditure.

the basal metabolic rate

It is estimated that vital metabolic functions alone – the so-called basal metabolism – are responsible for 50/70% of the energy a person consumes during the day.

The remaining energies (i.e. 50/30%) consumed daily are due to the ordinary activities you do, therefore to work, digestion (if you eat), etc.

Why do I make clarifications? Because if you consider the simple “energy arguments” that I illustrate below, you will understand that – with the same diet – the best way to burn many calories is to increase at the same time,

  • both the basal metabolism (which, as mentioned, represents a large slice that oscillates between 50 and 70% of our total energy expenditure),
  • and physical activity usually empty (which is the simplest way to affect the remaining 50/30%).

Now that I’ve roughly explained the link between physical activity and calories burned, we can consider the third and final piece of this puzzle : body weight.

loss of body weight

What interests us for the purpose of losing weight is well represented by this relationship:

Sports activity => Energy consumption => Caloric deficit => Reduction of body weight

We start from the simple empirical observation that one kg of body weight corresponds to about 7,000 – 7,500 calories.

In other words: a deficit in the body of 7,000 – 7,500 calories is roughly equivalent to one kg of body weight lost. An example?

  1. if through food you introduce 2,300 Kcal per day into your body,
  2. if your basal metabolic rate is 2,300 Kcal per day,
  3. if you train with the rowing machine for 30 minutes burning 300 calories, then consuming 300 Kcal,

⇒ according to this formula: Caloric deficit = +2.300 Kcal – 2 .300 Kcal – 300 Kcal = -300 Kcal,  

⇒ your caloric deficit at the end of the day will be 300.

This means that, in the space of a month, you train 30 minutes a day from Monday to Saturday without increasing or decreasing your calorie intake, or without changing your normal diet, then you can lose about half a kilo per month.

If this pound is not enough for you and you want to lose weight further, all you have to do is increase the duration of the exercises, or slightly reduce the caloric intake that you introduce into the body through nutrition.

At this point, you may be wondering how:

  1. calculate your basal metabolic rate (vital metabolic functions),
  2. determine how much energy you consume when you train with the rowing machine,
  3. do to calculate the calories you consume each day.

Well, let’s find out together.

1.Calculate basal metabolic rate

Calculating the basal metabolic rate allows you (as we have seen previously) to have a good idea of ​​how much on average, “just” to carry out the vital metabolic functions, your body consumes daily for breathing, for blood circulation, for digestion , for the activity of the nervous system, etc.

A well-known formula for calculating basal metabolic rate is the Harris & Benedict equation  :

  • Male Basal Metabolic Rate = 66.473 + (13.715 x Weight) + (5.03 x Height in cm) – (6.77 x Age) 
  • Female Basal Metabolic Rate = 655.095 + (9.563 x Weight) + (1.84 x Height in cm) – (4.675 x Age) 

However, there are also several other formulas to calculate the basal metabolic rate.

The more precise ones take into account, among other things, the weight of the lean mass, a quantity that not all of us (if we are not followed by a dietician or a sports doctor) are able to calculate easily.

Here is one of the most famous formulas to calculate the basal metabolic rate that also take into account the lean mass: the Katch and McArdle equation :

  • Man Basal Metabolism = 370 + (21.6 x lean body mass in kg.) 
  • Female basal metabolic rate = 370 + (21.6 x lean body mass expressed in kg.) 

An interesting thing about this formula is that it shows us that a “muscular” body, therefore with a high weight of lean mass (ie muscles), has a higher basal metabolic rate than a person with a less toned physique.

And this explains why it is useful to keep fit especially by doing exercises that tone most of the muscles in our body, just like those that can be done with the rowing machine.

Studies have shown that one kilogram of muscle burns 9 calories per hour, while one kilogram of fat burns zero calories.

So, to conclude: a fit body consumes more calories than an unfit one.

2. Calculate energy consumption when exercising

Now let’s see how to calculate the energy consumption you have when you train. Here too we have a formula  for men and a formula for women:


Calories burned = [(Age x 0.2017) – (Weight x 0.09036) + (Heart rate x 0.6309) – 55.0969] x Exercise duration / 4.184


Calories burned = [(Age x 0.074) – (Weight x 0.05741) + (Heart rate x 0.4472) – 20.4022] x Exercise duration / 4.184

As you can see, when you train you must also take into account your heart rate.

Generally rowers are equipped with heart rate meters: otherwise it is always possible to use an external heart rate monitor (not inserted in the rowing machine),

Once the basal metabolic rate and calories burned during a workout have been calculated, the total daily calories burned throughout the day are calculated.

If those burned are regularly and consistently higher than those introduced through food, then it will mean that you are on your way to losing weight.

3. Calculate the calories introduced with food

If you have followed me this far, you will have realized that there is also another element to consider: the calories introduced through food.

With the advent of smartphone apps, it is very easy to keep track of how much you eat and the calories introduced with food.

Among these apps, it is worth mentioning: MyFitnessPal, Lose It !, FatSecret. They are all free applications (most of them, at least), and they are very good.

If you still don’t know them, I suggest you try them, and choose the one that best suits your needs.

How much do you have to row to lose weight

After talking about calories and metabolic consumption, let’s get to the heart of the matter and try to understand how many calories can be burned by training with a rowing machine.

Rowing is by no means a simple exercise (from this point of view), as there are various factors that come into play in determining these values. The main of these are made up,

  • heart rate at rest and heart rate during training,
  • the intensity of training,
  • the duration of the workout,
  • the person’s physical fitness, age, weight and percentage of lean mass.

Broadly speaking – and just to give you a few orders of magnitude – we can say that an adult man consumes between 520 and 800 Kcal per hour.

More specifically, always broadly,

  • a 70 kg man  who trains moderately with the rowing machine consumes about 400 Kcal per hour; if, on the other hand, the training becomes more intense, its energy consumption can reach 600 Kcal / hour;
  • a man of 85 kg  who trains with the rowing machine in a moderate way, consumes about 500 Kcal per hour; if instead the training becomes more intense, its energy consumption can reach 700 Kcal / hour;
  • a 110 kg man  who trains with the rowing machine in a moderate way, consumes about 600 Kcal per hour; if instead the training becomes more intense its energy consumption can reach 800 Kcal / hour;
  • a trained person who can keep a very strong pace for an hour can burn up to 1000 Kcal.

For the reasons illustrated above, these are indicative numbers, to be taken with the “pliers”.

Now let’s see what are the two macro-types of training that can be carried out on a rowing machine to lose weight.

The types of training with the rowing machine, to lose weight

Basically there are 2 macro categories of workouts that can be done on the rowing machine:

  • cardio exercises;
  • high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises, ie exercises based on alternating between high and low intensity efforts.

cardio workouts

In cross-country training you work on medium-long times, at an average or medium-low pace / heart rate.

The basic one is the “classic” training: the easiest and most recommendable one for beginners.

However, it is not as effective in terms of weight loss as intense interval training (HIIT).

HIIT workouts

During a HIIT workout, rowing frequency and exercise intensity can reach very high levels – levels that cannot be maintained for long periods of time (and, in fact, are not).

Several studies have shown that this type of exercise is much more effective for weight loss than core exercises.

Some find it even more fun, others just more tiring.

HIIT workouts are also characterized by a post-workout excess oxygen consumption higher than that of background workouts.

This effect can increase metabolic rates for hours after a workout, and can (again after a HIIT workout) continue to burn an extra 100-200 calories after finishing a rowing session.

However, since these are two very different types of training, it is preferable to use both in your  weekly training routine .

How to burn more calories

There are some tricks and some useful techniques to burn more calories. Here are some of them:

  • while rowing, focus on your body and breath so that you can make the widest and most complete rowing movements possible;
  • train with a rowing frequency between 24 and 30 strokes per minute: this is in fact the frequency in which the most calories are normally burned;
  • remember that if you use an air or water rowing machine, a doubling of the rowing speed will imply an eight-fold increase in the resistance of the rower: with the other rowers (magnetic ones) this is not the case;
  • do not get your body used to a single type of exercise: alternating core training with HIIT training helps to keep your interest alive, but above all it serves to not accustom the body to the same effort. When the body gets used to only one type of physical activity, it can do it efficiently, and that’s not your goal, which is to burn more calories to lose weight.

The diet / exercise combination is obviously the best way to lose weight, because just taking off a couple of “unhealthy” foods and doing thirty minutes of exercise a day will help you create a calorie deficit large enough to lose more than a pound per day. week!

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