A rower is easily one of the best equipment options if you want to burn calories the joint-friendly way.

Rowing machine exercises promote muscle strength and keep your heart rate up. Plus, you get all the benefits of an all-over body workout. Such a powerful machine will have you burning up to 300 calories in just 30 minutes.

Of course, we know that the more effort and time you put into your rowing workout, the better the results for your weight loss and fitness goals. But you can incorporate other strategies to make the most of every push and pull within a minimal time frame.

Here are ways on how to start optimising your rowing exercise routine.

Know the Proper Rowing Form

Executing rowing machine exercises with the proper form not only allows you to burn more calories, burn body fat and lose weight. It’s crucial in protecting your airways and avoiding injuries, too. And there are four rowing phases you need to master to achieve this:

  1. Catch. Sit on the rower, position your feet then grab the handle. Keep your knees bent, arms straight and upper body leaning forward at the hips. The catch serves as your starting position.
  2. Drive. Now, pull backward by pushing your legs, then pull your arms. Make sure to do these in sequential order, instead of pushing and pulling at the same time. This way, you’ll make the flywheel spin faster, which should be your goal in every row.
  3. Finish. Here, your legs should be straight, your torso leaning backward and your elbows bent. The rowing handle should be near your midsection. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
  4. Recovery. Finally, return to starting position. Start by straightening your arms, then tilt your torso forward at the hips. Next, bend your knees as you move your body forward. Make sure they are not bowing outward. Now, repeat!

It will take time to get the proper rowing technique, but eventually, it will become second nature. Practice a lot, then move on to more advanced rowing machine exercises when you’re ready.

Sit Taller

This technique is part of learning the proper form. But I want to emphasise it, especially if you’re exercising to shape and tone your core muscles. When you push and pull, make sure to keep your back straight and your gaze in front, not downward.

It will help you maintain proper alignment and target your abdominal muscles correctly each time. It will keep your airways open as well, so you can breathe properly and get through an extended rowing machine workout without issues.

Woman using rowing machines

Make Your Legs Work More

While rowing exercise is a full-body workout, your legs should be doing most of the work. Aim to produce up to 50% of power from your legs. Your core and back should contribute about 30%, while the remaining 20% should come from your arms.

The reason behind this is that your legs and glutes contain more body muscles than any other parts. Working them out means you’ll be targeting more muscles and burning more calories without doing a lot of strokes.

Putting so much effort into your arms will not produce the best results, plus you’ll feel tired sooner. Your legs, on the other hand, have the endurance for extended rower training.

Apply Rowing Exercise Variations

Imagine doing the same task over and over again. Soon you can accomplish it without exerting much effort. You might even feel bored while doing it. Our body reacts to monotonous workouts in the same way.

We do not lose as many calories once our bodies begin to adapt to a routine. So, when you’re ready, make your rowing machine exercises more challenging. Here are ways to level it up:

  • Endurance training. This variation can be your starting point when transitioning from a beginner to an advanced rower. Here, you’ll be rowing at a low resistance training level and steady, moderate pace for long periods. You can begin with 30-minute sessions, then progress to 1 hour. Later, you can mix this up with other rowing or cardio exercises.
  • Ladder workout. Another way to change up your indoor rowing routine is to increase your stroke rate in phases. Start with 20 strokes per minute. Then increase your speed by one rowing stroke every minute. Continue doing the one-stroke increment until your body hits its limit. The advantage of this technique is you get to improve according to your fitness status instead of besting a set target.
  • Power stroke intervals. Power strokes are hard strokes that explode you backward. These require you to push and pull with all-out effort. You can start with ten power strokes within 24 strokes per minute, followed by ten recovery strokes to make one set. Next, double your power strokes at 26 strokes per minute. Finally, try 30 power strokes at 28 strokes per minute. Adjust the number of strokes and duration based on your fitness level.

Make sure to record your progress. Use the built-in tracker, a downloadable app or good old pen and paper!

How many calories burned with a rowing machine

Incorporate Other Exercises

Rowing machine exercises are excellent in burning calories and for losing weight. But working out with an indoor rower alone means you might be neglecting other major muscle groups that also need attention. Experts even agree that combining cardio and strength exercises leads to optimised workout results.

So, start burning more calories by alternating your workout routine with a weightlifting session, treadmill workout or aerobic exercise.

Try mixing up low and vigorous exercises into your rowing workouts plan to infuse the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT workout). And of course, don’t forget to apply good eating habits. Check out my reviews of some of the top indoor rowers in Australia, and start rowing to a healthier you!