Does Rowing Burn Belly Fat

Does Rowing Burn Belly Fat?

Rowing is a smart choice for anyone who is looking to improve their cardio fitness, strengthen their major muscles groups and boost their endurance. 

But will it help you to burn belly fat? 

The answer is a definite yes, but, as with most things, there’s a but. In this article, we’ll explore just how you can use your rowing machine to burn calories and what else you need to be doing to achieve your weight loss goal.

Does Rowing Burn Belly Fat

Before we get into the benefits of rowing for belly fat reduction, let’s address the very idea of burning belly fat in the first place. Regardless of what exercise you do, you cannot target fat loss from a particular area of your body. 

Spot reduction for fat loss is a myth!

Whether you are doing a thousand crunches, three hundred sit-ups, or doing an hour on the rowing machine, there is no such thing as a belly fat reducing workout.

When you lose body fat it comes off evenly from all parts of the body. 

Fat is nothing more than stored energy. When you consume calories in excess of your body’s energy needs, the extra will get stored in various parts of your body – some in the butt, some in the thighs, and some in the belly. 

When you exercise, you draw on that stored energy. But it doesn’t come from any particular spot. As a result, you cannot spot reduce fat from your body.

So, the real question should be not does rowing burn belly fat but doers rowing help you lose weight. 

Rowing for Weight Loss

Rowing is a very good form of exercise for weight loss. That is because it allows for a significant amount of calories to be burned. 

To lose weight you need to create a caloric deficit, where you are using up more calories than you’re taking in. The two ways to achieve this caloric deficit are by reducing the amount of food you eat and by burning calories through exercise

Of all the forms of cardiovascular exercise that you could choose to create a caloric deficit, rowing is one of the best. One treason for that is that, unlike most other cardio exercise forms, rowing provides a full body workout. 

The majority of cardio options are lower body-centric, meaning that they mostly involve the leg muscles. 

Rowing, while it does involve a lot of leg action, also brings the upper body into the movement. As a full-body exercise, it requires significantly more energy expenditure than most lower body-focused cardio options.  

Rowing directly involves the following muscles:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Deltoids
  • Biceps
  • Core 

When it comes to the number of calories you’ll burn in a typical rowing workout, there are several variables to account for, including gender, age, intensity level, and weight. 

Here is a guide based on body weight and rowing intensity, broken down to the calorie burn for a 15-minute and an hour-long workout. 

Weight Moderate Intensity15 min/ 60 minVigorous Intensity15 min/ 60 min
165 lbs (75 kg)131/525159/638
185 lbs (84 kg)147/588179/714
205 lbs (93 kg)163/651198/791
225 lbs (102 kg)179/714217/867

Another reason that rowing is a great cardio option for weight loss is that it is a low-impact form of exercise. In contrast to most other forms of cardio, you do not have to lift your foot from the floor when you row. 

That means that there is virtually no impact on your ankles, knees, and hips when you perform the exercise. As a result, your weight loss exercise session is a whole lot more joint-friendly when you make use of a rowing machine. 

If you’re considering adding a rower to your home gym, check out Start Rowings’ guide on the best rowing machines.

The Importance of Nutrition

Most people understand that what you eat is an important factor when you’re exercising for weight loss. What most don’t appreciate is just how big a factor nutrition plays. Consider the following …

If you are really dedicated, you may get 7 rowing workouts in over the course of a week. Realistically, though, most people will end up getting in three of four.

Contrast that with the number of times you will be eating over the course of a week. At three meals per day, you’ll be having 21 meals. That’s three times more than the number of workouts! 

If you were to focus on improving the quality while also reducing the quantity of the foods you are eating at each of those 21 meals, you will make a far greater impact on your weight loss than any exercise changes you were to make.

Now, I’m not saying that exercise is not important to fat loss. It most definitely is. The point is that nutrition plays a more significant role. You may have heard the saying ‘You cannot out-train a bad diet.’ 

See also – Is cardio necessary for cutting

If you haven’t, please take the time to absorb its meaning: unless you are serious about what you are putting into your body, your rowing efforts for weight loss will be a huge waste of time!

To promote fat loss, you should reduce your caloric intake by an average of 500 calories per day. Here is how you should balance out your macronutrients to achieve long-term fat loss …

Focus on Protein

Eat lean protein with every meal. 

A lean protein contains all of the essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce by itself.

A portion size of protein is visually about the size of the palm of your hand, between 20 and 30 g. Women should get one portion of protein per meal (20-30 g).

Getting this amount of protein will:

  • maximally stimulate metabolism
  • improve muscle mass
  • reduce body fat

5 Great Protein Choices

  • Eggs
  • Whey Isolate Protein Powder
  • Chicken
  • Steak
  • Tuna

Eat Vegetables or Fruit with Every Meal

To make this a success:

  1. Include at least 2 servings of fruits and veggies per meal.
  2. 1 medium-sized fruit, ½ cup raw chopped fruit or vegetables, and 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables each equal to 1 serving.
  3. You should get about 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

5 Great Carb Choices Include

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Pumpkin
  • Bananas
  • Beets

Eat Healthy Fats

About 30% of the diet should come from fat—not much less, not much more. More important than total fat intake is the balance between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. 

A goal of 1/3 saturated, 1/3 monounsaturated, and 1/3 polyunsaturated fat is recommended. By balancing out fat intake in this way, health, body composition, and performance can be optimized.

5 Great Fat Choices

  • Walnuts
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado
  • Salmon
  • Eggs

How to Row For Fat Loss

The key to weight loss success with any type of exercise is to enjoy what you are doing. That’s because if you enjoy it will you keep doing it and consistency is what will bring long-term results. 

So, if you absolutely hate rowing, it is not going to be the best choice for you.

Assuming that you do enjoy rowing – and why wouldn’t you? – there are several hacks you can employ to maximize your fat loss …

Sit Up Tall

When you sit tall, you are better engaging the core muscles, which act as stabilizers during the rowing movement. Maintain a natural back arch, pull your shoulders back, look straight ahead and keep your chin up. 

As well as engaging the core, this bodily alignment will also open up your lungs to allow for the most efficient breathing process.

Concentrate on the Leg Drive

The leg drive involves the biggest muscles in the body. When you focus on driving your heels into the food plates and really pushing through the quads and glutes, you will achieve a greater calorie burn than if you were more upper body focused.

Professional rowers follow a 50/30/20 rule, where 50 percent of the effort comes from the legs, 30 percent comes from the back and 20 percent comes from the arms. 

Do HIIT Workouts

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It involves doing short bursts of power strokes interspersed with recovery periods. This type of training will burn more calories both during the workout and afterward, thanks to the afterburn effect. 

Here’s a sample HIIT workout for fat loss …

  1. Warm-up at a moderate pace for 2 minutes
  2. Do 10 power strokes at the rate of 24 strokes per minute
  3. Do 10 recovery strokes
  4. Repeat this pattern 5 times
  5. Finish with 2 minutes at a moderate pace

See also – HIIT before or after weights

Do Endurance Workouts

By alternating your HIIT training with longer endurance workouts, you’ll be able to maintain a high rate of calorie burn while also adding variety and providing extra cardiovascular benefits. Work up to doing 20 minutes of medium-paced rowing at 24 strokes per minute.


Rowing is a fantastic choice for losing weight, including belly fat. But it will only prove effective if you also reduce your caloric intake and focus on eating healthy foods. 

For best results, we recommend doing 4 rowing workouts per week alternating between HIIT and endurance style training. 

So, let’s get rowing!

What Next

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