A 20-minute rowing machine HIIT session is a brief but effective workout to burn calories and get cardio benefits. But when should you do it: morning or night?

The best time for your high-intensity interval rowing workout is whenever you can. Do it before going to work or bed. What’s important is that you do your indoor rower routine regularly.

Of course, there are pros and cons when doing morning and night-time rowing workouts.

So, let’s compare the two to help you decide which schedule works best for you.

And if you’re a HIIT newbie, scroll down further for a sample workout to get you started.

Is a 20-Minute Rowing Machine HIIT Good?

There are two things I’d like to address in this article.

One is to know whether high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a rowing machine is worth doing.

And if it is indeed a good workout, I want to identify the best time of day to do it.

So, should you spend 20 minutes of your day doing HIIT on an indoor rower?

The quick answer is yes, especially if you’re always busy. That’s because HIIT lets you burn lots of calories within a short time.

And while HIIT is a challenging workout, the joint-friendly rowing machine allows you to perform intense intervals with less body strain.

Indoor rowing is also a full-body workout. That means you’ll be working out your lower and upper body muscles.

With more muscles involved, the after-burn effect is high as well.

It’s a muscular reaction where you’ll continue burning calories even after your workout.

These benefits stress that a 20-minute rowing machine HIIT session is good for your heart health, muscles and weight goals.

Best of all, squeezing this sweat sesh into a busy schedule is better than hour-long rowing machine workouts.

Benefits of HIIT with Rowing Machines

When is the Best Time of Day to Row?

People say that rowing first thing in the morning is the best. Still, others believe that night-time rowing is more beneficial.

After hearing these, you’re probably asking yourself: does timing matter?

You’ll likely get different views on when to exercise because we have varying schedules.

Some have packed evenings, making a morning rowing routine practical. Others have busier mornings, so night-time workouts are ideal.

As for athletes, their training hours should agree with the time when they need to compete or perform their best.

Moreover, the choice depends on whether you are a morning or evening person.

Remember, your workout performance is directly related to the workout results you get.

The good news is that your body can adapt to any exercise schedule if you follow it regularly.

Research findings also emphasise that exercise consistency, regardless of timing, is vital to sustainable fitness and weight loss.

That means regular morning or night-time rowing machine HIIT for 20 minutes is good for you.

But to help you further, here are the perks and downsides of morning and night workouts.

Pros and Cons of Morning Workouts

Several studies concluded that morning routines are better than evening workouts, especially for tackling weight issues.

But keep in mind that it still has some drawbacks.

So, be ready to handle them if you end up doing your 20-minute rowing machine HIIT at the crack of dawn.


  • Higher exercise adherence. It’s less likely to have duties piled up early when everyone’s still asleep. That means you have a few reasons to skip your rowing workouts.
  • Good sleeping pattern. Doing your rowing exercise in the morning keeps you energised throughout the day. Your energy level then subsides in time for a good night’s rest. This sleep cycle also preps your muscles for the next day’s workout.
  • Better productivity and mood. Any exercise, including rowing, can stimulate the release of happy hormones called endorphins. You are then more optimistic, focused and alert during work hours.
  • Higher caloric and fat burn. One study indicates that you can burn more fat if you exercise before breakfast. This practice encourages the body to use fat stores as exercise fuel. Also, it prolongs the after-burn effect you get from training.


  • Lower body fuel. Doing your 20-minute rowing machine HIIT before breakfast can make you hungry mid-workout, especially if you had a light dinner the night before. Make sure to take the proper pre-workout snack before you start.
  • Longer warm-ups. Most of us do not wake up feeling energised for a good workout. That’s because your body temperature is lower in the morning. Your joints are probably stiff, too. All these make the warm-up phase before your HIIT more crucial and, perhaps, slightly longer.
Morning HIIT Rowing Session

Pros and Cons of Evening Workouts

Night-time rowing is as good as morning routines.

For some people, it might even be better because, at this time, you’re more energetic and mobile.

Then again, there are still hurdles to overcome if you choose evening workouts.


  • Better workout performance. We generally exercise better later in the day since our body temperature is already high. Our joints and muscles are also more flexible. Research also shows that people in evening workouts do not feel exhausted fast.
  • Higher hormonal response. One study noted that hormones, particularly testosterone, are more responsive later in the day. This hormone is essential in strength and muscle building. It’s a helpful bodily reaction considering that a rowing machine targets about 80% of your muscles.
  • Healthier means to destress. A 20-minute rowing machine HIIT session can help relieve stress, especially after a busy work day. The endorphins you get through exercise also improve your mood, helping you sleep. And if you usually sit, snack or watch TV at night, exercising on your rower is a far better, not to mention a healthier, alternative.


  • Lower exercise adherence. You have several reasons to skip even a brief 20-minute rowing machine HIIT session at night. For instance, you might be too tired to do intense workouts after a long day. It is also easy to get sidetracked when social events or gatherings happen in the evenings.
  • Possible sleep interference. Exercise generally helps us get a good night’s sleep. However, doing HIIT or any vigorous workout before bedtime is a different story. These activities can significantly boost your energy, making it harder for you to sleep. In that case, finish your high-intensity training at least 1 to 2 hours before bed.
Evening HIIT Rowing Session

How Should You Do Your 20-Minute Rowing Machine HIIT?

Now we know that a 20-minute HIIT on an indoor rower is good, and you can do it in the morning or night.

But if you’re new to this training style, how should you do it?

The good thing about HIIT is it’s scalable, meaning you can crank its intensity up or down based on your fitness level.

Here’s a beginner-friendly sample routine for you to try.

Warm-upRow for 2 to 3 minutes at a comfortable speed and resistance.
Level 1Row for 30 seconds with resistance and/or speed higher than your warm-up. Then, lower the settings for your 60-second active recovery. Repeat this 4 times.
Level 2Row for 30 seconds with resistance and/or speed higher than your warm-up. Then, lower the settings for your 45-second active recovery. Repeat this 4 times.
Level 3Row for 30 seconds with resistance and/or speed higher than your warm-up. Then, lower the settings for your 30-second active recovery. Repeat this 4 times.
Level 4Row for a 250-m sprint with resistance and/or speed higher than your warm-up. This part should take about 40 to 45 seconds.
Cool-downRow for 2 to 3 minutes at a comfortable speed and resistance.

Once you get used to this 20-minute HIIT workout sample, tweak it and make it more challenging.

Just remember to master the proper form and rowing technique first before doing advanced exercises.


I believe the 20-minute rowing machine HIIT is a complete-package workout.

It’s good for the heart, burns calories and activates nearly every muscle.

And you get all these benefits whether you row in the morning or at night.

Keen to try doing this training style at home?

Check out these reviews on the best rowing machines in Australia and see which model is best for you.

Indoor Rowing

1. Aside from HIIT, what else can I do to burn more calories using an indoor rower?

Making a workout plan, sticking to it and maintaining the correct form help maximise the calories you burn on an indoor rower. You can also do rowing variations and add other exercises to your fitness routine for optimum results.

2. Which is better for weight loss: a rowing machine or a treadmill?

Both exercise machines help you burn extra calories and lose weight. But their distinct features make them more suitable for your goals. For instance, the treadmill is an excellent cardio equipment for burning calories. Eventually, your weight loss progress will slow down, shifting your focus to muscle development and toning. And at this stage, an indoor rower is a more effective fitness partner.