When it comes to cardio workouts, rowing machine exercises are about as tough as they come. Rowing works your upper body, core and legs rather than machines like the bike, which only really hit your lower body. You can't spot-reduce fat from your waist area; as nice as this would be, it just isn't possible. You can lose fat from your waist by using the rower for high-calorie-burn workouts.
Steady state is the type of cardio with which most people are familiar. It involves working at a low-to-moderate intensity for a sustained period of time. One hour of steady-state work on the rower can burn 438 calories in a 160-pound person, making it more effective than aerobics, swimming or skiing. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio each week for fat loss and general health. Use the effort scale to determine how hard you're working. On a scale of one to 10, with one being very easy and 10 being as hard as you can go, six or below is moderate, while seven or above is vigorous, which should help you plan your rowing training to meet your targets.
To take your training and results to the next level, try interval workouts. Interval training on the rower involves alternating between short bursts of very high intensity rowing and slightly longer periods of easier work. By performing intervals as your rowing workout, you spend less time in the gym and can burn more fat, writes exercise physiologist Jason Karp in "Shape Magazine." Warm up for five minutes and then go as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Reduce your intensity to an effort level of seven for 90 seconds and repeat this protocol eight to 10 times. Cool down for five minutes at a slow pace after your last interval. Interval training counts toward your 75-minute minimum of vigorous exercise.
In a pinch, the rower can actually function as a makeshift resistance machine. You don't want to try anything crazy with it, but you can safely use it to perform seated rows. Hold the handle at arms' length, sit upright, brace your core, pull the handle to your chest, pause momentarily and straighten your arms again. This exercise works your back, biceps and core muscles. Weight training helps in the fat-burning process because it burns calories and boosts your metabolism. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, and if the weight's too easy, increase the resistance on the rower slightly.
For best results, combine rowing exercises with a calorie-controlled diet. No matter how hard you train, you won't burn that stubborn fat without reducing your intake too. Use a combination of steady-state rowing and intervals to meet your weekly exercise target, splitting it up however best fits your schedule. Perform other forms of cardio to prevent boredom, and add in two total body-weight sessions each week to help maintain muscle mass and boost your metabolism. Always use correct form when training on the rower and ask a qualified trainer for help if you need assistance.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.