Rowing Machine Weight Loss + Lose Belly Fat: Definitive Guide

Last updated September 15, 2020
rowing machine weight loss

Rowing is a powerful way to lose weight. It works 86% muscles in the body, builds strength and endurance and tones all body parts.

To lose weight, the main thing to focus on is challenging your cardio system and increasing your heart rate. Rowing in the elevated heart rate zone leads to long periods of burning calories even after the workout.

However, you can’t just workout once in a while. Only when you workout consistently over a couple months or so will you notice a substantial loss in belly fat.

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

Yes, you can lose belly fat on a rowing machine. Rowing can help you burn those unwanted calories, shaving off the fat off your abdominals. But does it work better than running? Certified fitness expert Lyuda says that yes, it is possible, given that you row at high-intensity consistently.

Rowing machines like the Concept2 Model D can accommodate as much as 500 pounds. Since rowing is a low-impact exercise, it is easy on your joints. So, no matter how heavy you are, a rowing machine can help you lose weight without putting an unreasonable amount of pressure on your body.

Want a Slim Belly? Sacrifice Comfort

But how does high intensity feel like? It feels uncomfortable. You have so much stubborn fat on your body that it sometimes feels hard to move. The truth is you have to become comfortable being uncomfortable during your workouts.

How Often Do You Need to Row?

As fitness trainers suggest, you need to workout 4-5 days per week consistently over a period of two to six months to see significant changes in your physique. Burning calories takes time.

According to Certified Fitness Trainer, Lisa Maloney, 15 minutes of high-intensity or 30 minutes of medium intensity workout is enough if you want to improve your health in general. But if you want to lose weight or train for competitive sports, you will need to put in more time on a consistent basis.

heart rate monitor

How to Measure Rowing Intensity

To accurately measure intensity you will need a heart rate monitor. After you have a HRM, follow these steps:

  • First, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220:
    Maximum Heart Rate = 220 - <Your Age>
  • To lose belly fat or lose weight in general, you would have to workout at 55 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. So if you are 20 years old, this means rowing between 110 to 170 beats per minute.

You can also use our heart rate calculator for rowers to get those metrics.

What Does Moderate Intensity Mean

Moderate intensity means that you are breathing fast and have a noticeably fast heart beat, but you can still engage in a conversation. Some examples of moderate intensity workouts are brisk walking, light snow shoveling and biking at a moderate pace.

What Does High Intensity Mean

During high-intensity workouts, your heart beats a lot faster than normal and you breathe too fast and hard to engage in a conversation. Examples of intense workouts are running, swimming laps, cross-country skiing or playing competitive sports such as football or basketball.

rowing abs

How to breath while rowing?

You will most likely start with one full breath per stroke but will eventually increase your breath rate. As this topic is quite important, we published an entire article about how to breathe while rowing.

How Fast Can I Lose Belly Fat?

The answer is 4-8 pounds per month, if you do it the right way. Everyone wants to lose weight fast. But people who do it gradually are better able to maintain their physique after the weight loss.

According to experts, you would need to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. This can be further sped up by reducing your calorie intake. Reducing 500 to 1000 calories per day is a safe way to fasten your weight loss.

If you follow this path - reducing calorie intake and rowing with high-intensity 4-5 days a week, you will be able to lose 1-2 pounds per week. This number is given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pushing this number may not be sustainable.

So it means you can lose up to 4-8 pounds per month. Say, if you weigh 220 lbs. now and want to cut back to 180 lbs. It would take you 5 months to achieve your goal.

Realize that losing weight isn’t about a quick program or hack. It is about adopting a healthy lifestyle that involves a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Eating Habits that Inhibit Weight Loss

Losing belly fat also requires you to adopt better eating habits. The following habits can often increase your belly fat (apart from overeating in general):

1. Eating too fast and mindlessly

When you eat fast and mindlessly, you end up eating a lot more than what your body needs. You might be thinking “but I don’t feel full so I eat more”. The thing is that your brain takes about twenty minutes to realize that your stomach is full.

2. Eating when not hungry

People eat not only when they are hungry, but also when they want to feel good. This is where the phrase “eating your feelings” comes from. When we are stressed, tired, nervous, anxious or  drunk, we tend to eat mindlessly to soothe ourselves. However, this leads to weight gain and health conditions like blood sugar.

3. Always cleaning your plate

Were you told to always ‘clean your plate’ as a child? Well, your parents had noble intentions but this can often lead to overeating.

4. Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)

Skipping means can often lead to cravings and intake of unhealthy foods. Skipping meals also slows down your body’s metabolism, the process during which the body converts food into energy. Due to this, your body won’t be able to burn calories efficiently, which may lead to weight gain.

If you do one or more of the above, don’t worry. Improving your eating habits is possible when you start small and stay consistent.

Best Rowing Machine Workouts for Weight Loss

The two main elements of weight loss with rowing are consistency and duration. To lose maximum weight in the shortest duration of time, you should aim to do 30-50 minutes of rowing for five to six days a week.

If you are a beginner, it is important to keep a moderate intensity where you are able to have a conversation. If you are physically stronger, you can toggle between high and moderate intensity from time to time.

According to Concept2, here are the best rowing machine workouts for weight loss:

  • 5000 to 7000 meters
  • 10,000 meters
  • 30 minutes
  • 20 minutes: Alternate one minute of high-intensity rowing with one minute of low-intensity rowing
  • Two or three 10-minute stretches of moderate intensity with 2 minutes of low intensity

Remember to warm up before each workout and record the meters post workout.

Does Rowing Tone Your Arms?

Since rowing is a full-body workout, it tones your arms. But toning also requires having muscle. So if you want fast results, also spend some time doing strength training. This will help increase muscle size.

rowing tones arms

Remember that rowing is largely a cardiovascular exercise but if you increase the resistance to higher levels, it can have a significant impact on your arms. Couple that with pushups, incline/decline pushups, plank taps, triceps dips and your arms will tone fast.

If you lift weights, then toning becomes even easier as you can target specific muscle groups such as biceps, triceps, forearms and so on.

How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight with a Rowing Machine

Losing weight requires a long-term commitment. Doing long distance rows 5-6 days a week isn’t going to be easy. It will require discipline.

Realize that exercise is not about motivation. It is about discipline.

Even on the days when you don’t feel like rowing, just wear your rowing shoes and set a micro-goal to row for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you won’t want to quit midway. Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL commander and the founder of SEAL

Apart from being disciplined, here are some practical ways to keep things interesting:

1. Bring Variety

You can do cross-training to make your workouts interesting and have something new to do every once in a while.

2. Take Breaks

Intense rowing isn’t about breaking your body. Feel free to take breaks, stretch and relax in between sessions.

3. Be Creative

Try new ideas to keep things fun. Many people row while watching TV during commercial breaks. Try rowing games like the Fish, Darts or Target Training on the Concept2 rower.

4. Change Display

Toggle through display options to see your performance from a new angle each time.

5. Set a goal

Nothing is more interesting than picking a challenging goal and nailing it right on the head.

Final Word

Rowing machine can help you lose weight in all body parts. It doesn’t put pressure on your joints and allows you to workout from the comfort of your home.

Whether you want to lose fat, tone your arms, or cut bulky muscles, rowing machine can work like an all-rounder and do everything for you!

About Richard Miller
Richard Miller is a proud father of two who balances business life with his passion for rowing. When the weather doesn't allow for outdoor rowing, Richard finds joy in indoor rowing, as it satisfies his desire to challenge himself. With a love for the outdoors and a dedication to fitness, Richard tries to maintain a balanced and active lifestyle.
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