I don’t know about you, but I think nearly every single one of my female friends is either on a diet or wants to lose weight.
It seems like half of them are on the Keto diet or are hoping to get a prescription for Ozempic. Sadly, neither of these is a good long-term solution.
I’ve got a little gem that most people don’t think of when it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight and gaining some long, tight, dancer-type muscles – an indoor rowing machine.
My name is Petra Amara, and I’m lucky that I was introduced to rowing at a very young age, although today, most of my rowing is done on an indoor rowing machine.
I’m the founder of Rowing Crazy, and I want to share with you the wonders of this incredible piece of exercise equipment that actually fulfills the promises that other machines make.
Let’s get started, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover!
Why a Rowing Machine?
If you’ve done Crossfit, then you’ve used a rowing machine but probably wondered why they even bothered. You can burn calories and increase your metabolism with spin classes or other types of workouts, right?
Let me fill you in on some reasons to use a rowing machine rather than other gym machines.
- Rowing is a complete-body workout. Think about your favorite piece of gym equipment. I bet it only works your lower half, right? How would you like to work 86 percent of the muscles in your body every time you sit down on a machine? Rowing can do that for you! Nothing else works as many muscles as an indoor rowing machine.
- Rowing is low impact. You might think that ellipticals are low-impact, and they are. However, the movement of most ellipticals not only bothers the knees for many people, but they also are notoriously difficult to use properly. Watch someone slumped over their elliptical at the gym and you’ll see what I mean. Rowing is easy on the knees, hips, and ankles, something you can’t say about running!
- Unbelievable calorie burn. Yes, spin fans, rowing can actually burn more calories than your spin class, and it will work your upper body at the same time. While estimating calories can be difficult, on average, you’ll find that if you weigh about 185 pounds and work out even at a moderate pace, you can easily burn 400-500 calories every 30 minutes on an indoor rower. That’s the reason most athletes use rowing machines as part of their daily workout routine!
- Rowing is great for people of all fitness levels. One of the best things about a rowing machine is that it doesn’t matter if you are new to rowing or an old hand. Whether you’re young, old, or in-between, you can learn rowing in a matter of hours and get an incredible workout.
- Rowing is good even for people with health conditions. One problem I see is that for those who are very overweight or have bad knees or arthritis, you need exercise to lose weight and improve your health, but walking, climbing, or cycling hurts like the dickens. Rowing is low-impact and you can sit down while you do it, which makes it easy on the body. You can go as slow as you need to and, over time, you will feel your strength and stamina improve. I recommend rowing machines for anyone who has painful knees, is recovering from an injury, or even young, healthy people who are looking for good exercise that won’t end up causing them problems later on.
Yes, I am a big fan of rowing, and when it comes to weight loss, this often-overlooked machine is one of the best ways to drop excess pounds quickly.
Use Your Rowing Machine to Burn Fat and Calories, Even Stubborn Belly Fat
Believe it or not, rowing workouts are super cardio workouts, and getting your heart rate up means that you will not only burn fat and calories, but you will continue to burn calories (due to a higher metabolism) for many hours afterward.
However, if you want to put yourself on the fast track to burning fat and increase your calorie burn, I recommend that you try HIIT workouts.
If you haven’t heard of HIIT, the acronym means High-Intensity Interval Training. While scientists don’t really understand why HIIT burns more calories, they have proved that it does again and again.
Scientists have shown that short bursts of exercise, where you work very hard, followed by short rest periods or short periods of time where you slow down, cause the body to burn more fat than your long, steady-state everyday workout.
What does this mean for you? Less time spent exercising but reaping the same benefits. Or you can spend the same amount of time doing HIIT workouts and you’ll burn calories like paper in a furnace!
One Example of a HIIT Workout
One of the most common HIIT rowing workouts is a simple 1-and-1 workout.
- Sit on the rower and spend 1-minute rowing slowly as you warm up. Warming up is really important to avoid injury, so don’t skip this part!
- Now spend 1 minute doing 20 SPM. You can pull as hard as you like but be sure to take your time on the recovery. Monitor your SPM so that you hit and hold 20 SPM.
- Now you can rest for 1 minute. Either stop rowing completely, or you can just row very, very slowly (like perhaps 15 SPM).
Repeat this same sequence four times for a total of 8 minutes.
- Start again and work at 22 SPM for 1 minute.
- Now you can rest for 1 minute.
Repeat this 4 times for a total of 8 minutes.
If you’re a true-blue newbie or you haven’t exercised in years, my guess is that you’re probably ready to stop at this point. While 16 minutes doesn’t sound like much, remember that you are working 86 percent of the muscles in your body, so you are going to be really winded.
If you are exhausted, you can stop and try again tomorrow. Before you do that, you need to give your body a proper cooling down.
- Cool down by rowing very slowly for 2 minutes.
If you feel you can row some more, you can do another set of 4 at a stroke rate of 24 SPM. Follow the same sequence as before, but this time, do the following –
- Row 24 SPM for 1 minute.
- Stop rowing for 1 minute.
Repeat 4 times for a total of 8 minutes.
- Row very slowly for the next 2 minutes to cool down.
This seems like such as simple workout, doesn’t it? HIIT usually helps beginners since you have a short recovery period to catch your breath.
This monster workout is incredibly simple yet super effective in turning your indoor rower into a fat-burning machine!
You Can’t Exercise Your Way Out of a Poor Diet
I can see that almost everyone knows what a proper diet is. Yet, I see so many people in the gym drinking high-calorie coffee drinks and snacking on chips that it makes me wonder why they even bother exercising.
You cannot exercise away a poor or calorie-laden (read sugar-filled) diet.
Sugar is hiding in almost everything we eat. I was shocked to learn that three tablespoons of a popular ketchup brand contained as much sugar as a donut!
While “dieting” isn’t really necessary, it is the key ingredient when it comes to losing weight quickly. You’ll see tons of people lose weight via the Keto diet, and they will brag that they’ve done zero exercise.
It’s true. You can lose weight quickly on the Keto diet without exercise. The problem with this scenario is that you’re going to have lots of flabby muscles and skin if you lose weight with diet alone.
To get the best results and get those long, lean, dancer-type muscles, you should combine a healthy diet with regular exercise.
Aim towards cutting out about 500-600 calories per day. It doesn’t ALL have to come from exercise, you can create any combination you like.
Try cutting out 200 calories of food (which is actually just one soda!) and exercising away the other 300-400 calories (which is only 30 minutes of rowing at a moderate pace!)
With the 500/600 calorie deficit rule, you should lose roughly 1-to-1.5 pounds per week (or 4-5 pounds per month), which is a safe and sensible milestone to start working out for.
You’ve probably heard this strategy before, and you keep hearing it because it is proven effective, and most important of all – it’s doable!
The Bottom Line
Regular rowing workouts will not only give you a major metabolism upgrade, but they will also give you tight, firm muscles that will make you confident enough to wear the shortest skirt or, gentlemen, go shirtless in the summer.
You can exercise using a rowing machine without worry about hurting your joints and still lose weight, especially if you do HIIT workouts three or more times per week for about 20-40 minutes each time.
Focus on your diet! Aim to eat a healthy diet 80 percent of the time, get in at least 100-150 minutes of exercise each week, and those pounds will simply vanish!
Be active, eat healthy, and have fun rowing!