Do Rowing Machines Burn Fat?

Proper form for a rowing machine.

Proper form for a rowing machine.

Many people want to get the most exercise in the shortest amount of time. This allows you to condition your body even when you have a hectic work schedule. Rowing machines work your arms, back, chest and legs with each stroke. This means you can get a total body work without using multiple exercise machines. As a bonus, this exercise increases your heart rate. An increased heart rate burns calories, carbs and eventually fat.

Burning Fat

A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. That is a lot of calories to burn, but before your body begins to eat away at that large number, it must use up all the calories you ate throughout the day. For simple math, if you eat 500 fewer calories per day, you will lose roughly 1 pound of fat per week. Remember to adjust your caloric intake to compensate for the calories burned during while you exercise on a rowing machine.

Rowing Machines and Fat Loss

Losing fat is one thing, keeping it off is another matter. To keep fat off, you need to build muscle. Increased muscle mass raises your metabolism and a higher metabolism burns more calories. It is a win-win situation. Each stroke of a rowing machine uses the muscles of both your upper and lower body. Some of these muscles, including the back and legs, are large muscle groups that burn many calories. Just sitting on the rowing machine is not enough to build these muscles; you need to use proper form.

Proper Form

Rowing starts with the catch. The catch has you sitting with your back straight with your feet secured in the stirrups, your knees bent and your hands gripping the rowing handles. Now, the drive begins. First, your legs straighten and then you pull your arms toward your navel when your knees are nearly straight. Keep that back straight as you pull your arms in and retract your shoulder blades. That sounds easy, but you need a constant motion to raise your heart rate. This means you cannot stop moving between drives.

Rowing Machine Types

Purchasing a rowing machine can be a daunting task. Not only are there different sizes, but these machines have multiple types of resistance. Each type of resistance has its pros and cons, but each type effectively works your muscles. Some common types of resistance include air, piston, water and magnetic. You will find all types available at stores specializing in exercise equipment, and each salesperson will have a different opinion on which type works best. Sitting on the machine and giving it a go is the best way to determine which resistance type fits your workout style.

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About the Author

Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.

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