A rowing machine provides two crucial fitness outcomes: it burns calories and tones the muscles. But how long should your routine be to see these rowing machine results? Will 30 minutes do?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, 30 minutes of moderate rowing can burn 210 to 294 calories, depending on body weight. This caloric burn is enough to start noticing results within 3 to 4 weeks. But your progress is more evident after weeks 6 to 8.

Doing this routine weekly for four to five days is excellent for your fitness journey.

However, workout results, time, goals and preferences vary from person to person.

Let’s identify the factors affecting your rowing exercise so you can start planning a fitness routine that suits you best.

What Factors Affect My Rowing Machine Results?

We have different reasons for choosing the rowing machine as our fitness partner. Some use it to lose weight within a specific timeline.

Others want it to improve their muscle tone or endurance. So, while 30 minutes of rowing is good for our health, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The best way to know how long you should be rowing is to ask yourself how many calories you want to burn and what is your workout goal.

Rowing Machine Caloric Burn

Factor 1: How many calories do you want to burn?

The calories you burn on an indoor rower depend on your workout intensity and duration. You can roughly estimate it using a calorie counter.

But generally, the longer and harder you exercise, the more calories you burn.

You don’t have to start with a challenging routine to lose lots of calories, though.

It’s best to start slow and choose a workout that matches your capacity.

Overexerting yourself will only stress you out and make you less motivated to exercise consistently.

Here’s a list of calorie expenditures of specific rowing routines to help you get started.

10-Minute rowing machine results

Rowing for 10 minutes a day burns about 100 to 200 calories. It’s not a lot, but doing this consistently can benefit your everyday life.

With this routine, you can control weight gain and improve your stamina.

Even quick rowing exercises like this can trigger the release of happy hormones, reducing your stress level significantly.

Beginners can start with this routine daily. Doing other activities and eating a proper diet should boost workout results.

20-Minute rowing machine results

Rowing for 20 minutes a day burns about 250 calories. You’ll likely burn more from vigorous rowing, but this estimate is more sustainable.

With this routine, you’ll get better endurance and leaner muscles faster.

Complement this routine with a healthier diet regimen to boost your weight loss results, too.

30-Minute rowing machine results

Rowing for 30 minutes a day burns about 300 to 400 calories.

It’s a tougher workout, so you need to have ample rest days in your weekly schedule to recover.

But this routine gives you strong muscles and high endurance. The calories you’ll burn from it should also result in fat and weight loss.

Exercising for 30 minutes also meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activity recommendation for adults.

45-Minute to 1-hour rowing machine results

Rowing for 45 minutes to 1 hour a day burns about 400 to 600 calories. This routine fits experienced rowers more.

For this routine, you can alternately perform moderate to intense exercises for optimum results.

Do this consistently, and you’ll be making significant progress in your body inside and out.

Rowing Machine Workout Goal

Factor 2: What is your workout goal?

Your rowing workout results are not dependent on exercise duration only. They also rely on your specific goals.

For instance, are you working out to boost your heart health? Do you like to get more defined muscles? Or is a slimmer waist your main purpose?

It’s necessary to define your workout goals from the start, so you’ll know how to go about your training.

Here’s a guide to help you out.

If you are rowing to lose weight…

Aim for a 30-minute rowing session per day. This routine is enough to burn hundreds of calories without overworking your body.

Thirty minutes is also a good amount of time to increase your metabolism. That way, you continue burning calories even at rest.

If you are rowing to build muscles…

Perform 45-minute rowing sessions, then incorporate weight training into your routine.

Adjust this to a 20 to 30-minute rowing machine workout if your goal is toned muscles.

Generally, extended rowing sessions are best for increasing muscle mass.

There’s no fixed duration or intensity to achieve this goal, though.

However, you can experiment and track your rowing machine results to see which routine works best for you.

If you are rowing to improve cardiovascular health…

Aim for a 20 to 30-minute rowing session per day.

This workout duration should boost your heart rate without straining yourself too much.

However, you can adjust your workout time or intensity to achieve the same goal. For example, you can opt for:

  • Fast and short anaerobic rowing workouts: Here, you can do sprints or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with a rower for 5 to 20 minutes. This option uses short bursts of intense exercise, so your body starts demanding oxygen. And the more oxygen we take in, the higher the metabolic rate.
  • Long and slow aerobic rowing workouts: Here, you can row at a moderate pace for 45 to 90 minutes. With aerobic exercise, your heart rate and workout intensity are lower, so you can perform for extended periods.
Consistent Rowing Machine Results


Exercising for 30 minutes can give you rowing machine results within the first few weeks.

But you do not have to start or stick to this routine.

For instance, you can start with a 10-minute rowing workout at a comfortable pace if you are a beginner.

Once you start improving your strength, stretch your exercise time for more health benefits.

Matching your rowing routine with your fitness level and goal is more important.

So, aim to do a workout that you can sustain to feel and see results consistently.

Also, no matter your workout schedule, complement it with exercise variety and a healthy diet.

Getting a quality indoor rowing machine that you’ll enjoy using is key to fitness success, too!

1. Can rowing tone muscles?

An indoor rowing machine can tone over 80% of your muscles. Specifically, each rowing stroke is 65-75% leg work, which includes your glutes, quads and calves. It’s also a 25-35% upper body workout involving your arm, chest, upper back and core muscles. For optimum toning results, it is best to master the proper rowing form and eat a healthy diet.

2. How can I burn calories effectively on the rowing machine?

Executing rowing machine strokes with the correct form allows you to burn calories efficiently. When rowing, let your legs and glutes do most of the work. That way, you’ll be targeting more muscles and burning more calories without doing a lot of strokes. Also, incorporate variations and strength training exercises into your routine to optimise calorie burn.

3. Does rowing make you bulky?

As long as you maintain a low-calorie diet rich in vitamins and minerals, you need not worry about gaining excessive muscle mass from using a rowing machine. Being mindful of your diet is a good strategy to prevent you to look as muscular as a professional bodybuilder.