How Many Calories Does a Rowing Machine Burn?

Rowing machines are often regarded as some of the most effective pieces of cardio equipment and allow you to burn many calories quickly. 

Rowing machines are a great low-impact exercise and makes a great alternative to running which can take a toll on your knees and joints.

Furthermore, although there are plenty of cardiovascular exercises out there to burn calories, most of them just don't come close to the rowing machine.

It's super intensive in terms of the amount of calories you'll burn in a very limited amount of time, and this means that you don't have to spend as long working out as you would with other machines.

Let's take a closer look at how many calories a rowing machine burns, as well as the factors that affect how many calories you'll burn by doing so.


Factors That Influence How Many Calories a Rowing Machine Burns

Factors That Influence How Many Calories a Rowing Machine Burns

Before we start talking about exact figures in terms of how many calories a rowing machine burns, it's a good idea to talk about the various factors that influence this.

The reality is that not everybody's going to burn the same amount of calories rowing. Let's take a quick look at the main factors that you need to think about when determining how many calories you'll burn by rowing.



One of the most important factors to consider is how heavy you are. Generally speaking, the heavier you are, the more your body has to work to perform the exact same exercise.

Therefore, somebody who is 250 lbs can expect to burn more calories than someone who is 150 lbs if the workout intensity is the same.

The heavier you are, the harder your body has to work, and this means more calories burned.


Duration of the Workout

Although it might seem obvious, it is important to note that the longer you row, the more calories you'll burn.

If you maintain the same pace, you'll burn twice as many calories rowing for an hour as you would by rowing for 30 minutes. It really comes down to simple math.


Workout Intensity

The other factor that affects how many calories you'll burn on the rowing machine is the intensity of your workout.

First, this has to do with resistance. Rowing machines generally allow you to adjust the resistance.

The higher the resistance is, the harder your muscles have to work to pull that cable towards your body. The more your muscles work, the more calories you'll burn. 

However, it's also about speed. You can row really slowly or you can row quickly. The faster you row, the more calories you burn.

If you want to maximize calorie burn, you can increase both the resistance and the speed at which you grow.

Related Post: Does Lifting Weights Burn Calories?


How Many Calories Does Rowing Burn?

How Many Calories Does Rowing Burn?

To give you a good idea of how many calories rowing burns, here we have some charts that perfectly illustrate exactly that.

Moderate Intensity for 30 Minutes

Weight (lbs)








Calories Burned









High Intensity for 30 Minutes

Weight (lbs)








Calories Burned









Extreme Intensity for 30 Minutes

Weight (lbs)








Calories Burned









Calories Burned: Treadmills vs Rowing Machines

The most commonly used piece of cardio equipment at the gym is hands down the treadmill. But treadmills aren't the best option for everyone.

One of the issues with treadmills is that it can feel like you're going really slow. Even if you aren't going slow, it feels like it takes forever just to burn a few calories.

The other issue with treadmills is that they are high-impact. If you have knee injuries or problems, as well as issues with your ankles or hips, then the treadmill probably isn't right for you.

Each step you take while running sends a jolt through your joints, and that can be extremely painful.

For this reason, many people choose low-impact exercises such as rowing. It's a great way to get your blood flowing and your heart pounding by recreating the motion of rowing on open water.

Related Post: Calories Burned Using an Elliptical Cross Trainer?


Tips to Burn More Calories When Rowing

If you are looking to burn as many calories as possible when rowing, then there are a few important tips that we can provide you with.


Increase Your Stroke Rate

Every time you pull the handle towards your body and then release it back to the starting position, this is known as a stroke.

If you plan on increasing the amount of calories you burn through rowing, increasing your stroke rate is important.

The point here isn't just to move quickly up and down the rail, but to actually get the flywheel or other resistance mechanism spinning as fast as possible.

To burn the most calories, you should stay between 24 and 30 strokes per minute. The faster you row, the more intensely your heart and lungs have to work, and that's cardiovascular exercise at its finest.


Don’t Let Workouts Get Stagnant

If you plan on burning as many calories as possible, one of the worst things you can do is to create a workout routine that becomes stagnant.

In other words, doing the same thing over and over again over the course of many months isn't going to provide you with the best benefit.

Yes, doing the workouts that you are used to is great, but it's still a good idea to mix it up a little bit.

If your body becomes too accustomed to any one specific type of exercise or routine, the fewer calories you will burn.

This is because your body will slowly become more efficient at performing a specific exercise the longer it does it. It's all about muscle memory and maximum efficiency.

Therefore, keep switching things up so your body has to perform movements that it isn't used to. Try engaging in all of the different rowing types and routines that the machines can provide you with.

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Maintain Proper Form

Maintain Proper Form

If you expect to burn as many calories as possible during your rowing exercise, then maintaining form is important. There are four main aspects to any rowing motion, so let's take a quick look at what these are.


The Catch

First, we have the catch, which is also referred to as the start position. It has this name because this is the position when the ore would come into contact with the water. For proper form, sit upright on your rowing machine with your back straight and your arms straight as well. 

Your ankles and knees should be flexed and your shins vertical. From that position, you will use your lats to pull your shoulders downwards and then embrace your core. This starting position should also have you leaning forward slightly.


The Drive

The second part of motion is the drive, which is when you start pulling the handle back towards you. First, you start by pushing outwards with your legs while still bracing your core. 

When your legs are straight, you're going to lean back to roughly a 45° angle, making sure to hinge at the hips. Then, you will take your arms and pull the handle towards your chest, just a few inches above your belly button.


The Finish

The finish is the opposite position of the catch. Many people may refer to this as the resting position, but rest assured, you won't be taking a long break. 

Here, your legs are extended, your shoulders and back are leaning away from your legs, and your hands are gripping the handlebar very firmly, with your elbows tucked in towards your body.


The Recovery

The final part of the motion is known as the recovery, and this is the exact opposite of the drive. Here, you're going to extend your arms and then hinge your hips forwards so that your torso goes back over your legs. 

You will then bend your knees so that your shins end up vertical to the ground. If you maintain this proper form during the entirety of the exercise, you should burn as many calories as humanly possible.


Experiment with Steady State and HIIT Rowing Workouts

Experiment with Steady State and HIIT Rowing Workouts

What you also need to realize is that not all workouts on the rowing machine are the same.

There are different types of workouts that you can do on a rowing machine. The two most common types are known as the steady state and high intensity interval training.


Steady State Rowing

First, we have steady state rowing. This is a type of rowing where you row at a moderate intensity the entire time.

With this approach, you maintain a medium pace, with your maximum heart rate at around 75% for the whole rowing workout.

This is considered to be in the fat burning zone, so you will burn calories and lose weight. This is also a good way to exercise if you want to increase your stamina for regular activities, if you want to improve your coordination and balance, and if you want to grow your muscles.

With that being said, steady state rowing is not as good for burning calories as high intensity interval training.


HIIT Rowing

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, and this is by far one of the best ways for you to burn calories, and this is true whether you are rowing, running, or anything in between.

Interval training features many different benefits, with the afterburn effect being one of the most notable ones. 

For those who don't know, the afterburn effect is when your body continues to burn an increased amount of calories even after you're done working out.

Using a high intensity interval training technique when rowing is not very difficult. For instance, this might involve you rowing at your maximum intensity for 30 seconds, and then rowing at a slower pace for 60 seconds until your heart rate slows back down. 

You would then repeat the cycle 10 or 15 times, or however many times you see fit.

Just keep in mind that in as little as 20 minutes of high intensity interval training on the rowing machine, you can burn well over 300 calories.


Rounding Up

Final Thoughts on Calories Burned on the Rowing Machine

What it comes down to is that the rowing machine is by far one of the best pieces of cardiovascular equipment as far as burning calories is concerned.

Remember to switch things up, row at a high intensity, and turn that resistance up. If you do so, you can easily burn several hundred calories in a very short amount of time.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.