A lot of readers ask me “how long should you row on a rowing machine?”
I even get the question, “what is the least amount of time I can spend on a rowing machine?”
These are very difficult questions because there really is no right or wrong answer!
Everyone will be different because everyone has different goals and different time frames for achieving these goals.
People also lose weight differently than others. For example, a person who is “very out of shape” will lose weight a lot easier than someone who exercises a few times a week.
All of these factors change how the question is answered and how long you should use a rowing machine.
While I can give you some rough estimates of how long you should row on a rowing machine, I think the best thing to do is go over some questions to ask yourself.
These questions will help point you to how long you should be rowing every day.
I can also give you some rough estimates of the type of results to expect from rowing different amounts of times.
For those who are new to rowing machine fitness, here is an article called “Is Rowing Machine a Good Exercise?” to learn more about how rowers can provide health and fitness benefits to cardio and strength training.
What Are Your Rowing Machine Goals?
Outlining and writing down your rowing machine goals is going to be the most important factor to determine your rowing time.
Not having goals before you start to exercise is like walking around blind. You should have specific goals and try to follow the SMART goals guidelines.
A good goal may be, “I want to lose 16 lbs. in 2 months. I will lose 2 lbs. per week and weigh myself every Sunday morning”.
You can use your goals to work backward into how long you should row on a rowing machine.
How Many Calories Do You Want to Burn?
If you have a specific amount of weight you want to lose, this can help you back into a time per day to spend on the rowing machine.
Let’s take the previous example of losing 16 lbs. in 2 months. This means you want to lose 2 lbs. per week.
There are 3,500 calories in 1 lb., so to lose 2 lbs. per week you would need to lose 7,000 calories a week (3,500 x 2).
You can divide 7,000 calories by 7 days and conclude you need to burn 1,000 calories per day.
So your goal of losing 2 lbs. a week (16 lbs. in 2 months) would require you to create a 1,000 calorie deficit per day.
Now rowing is not the only way to achieve this 1,000 calorie deficit. You can also cut calories by making healthy eating choices!
Just switching your breakfast from a bagel with cream cheese and a cappuccino to a banana and black coffee can cut out over 300 calories!
If you plan to cut out 500 calories from eating healthy, you then only have to row until you burn 500 calories. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on some factors like age, weight, heart rate and rowing intensity.
I have a great article on burning calories with a rowing machine that you can read for more details.
Rowing can also help boost your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day. So you may only need to burn 400 calories from rowing and an extra 100 from your increased metabolic rate from exercise!
Having a weight loss goal and working backwards is a great way to estimate how long you should be using a rowing machine each day.
Hopefully you were able to follow this example and it wasn’t too confusing! If you have a specific situation please leave me a comment below.
What Cardiovascular Benefits Do You Want?
Some people aren’t interested in seeing numbers drop on a scale but instead want better cardiovascular health.
I recently had an email asking “I want to improve my cardio on a rowing machine, how long to see results?”
I had to reply asking, “what type of cardiovascular benefits do you want!?”
Rowing can be used for aerobic exercise (long & slow) and anaerobic exercise (short & fast).
So you can really receive every cardiovascular benefit from rowing. It all depends on your goals, workouts, and how long you want to spend rowing.
Rowing Machine for Anaerobic
If you are looking to improve your anaerobic conditioning, then you will need to spend less time on the rowing machine. Workouts will generally be higher intensity for shorter amounts of time.
Anaerobic exercises can last anywhere between 5-20 minutes.
Doing sprints and high intensity interval training are the best workouts for anaerobic conditioning.
Rowing Machine for Aerobic
If you are looking to improve your aerobic conditioning, then rowing times will generally be longer. I usually perform my steady-state workouts between 45 minutes – 90 minutes.
Intensity and heart-rate will be much lower so you can last the full duration.
No matter what your goal (anaerobic vs. aerobic), you should always mix in different workouts. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can greatly improve your anaerobic conditioning and vice versa.
Do You Want to Build Muscle While Rowing?
Some people may ask “how long should you row on a rowing machine to build muscle?”
Again, it is a difficult question to answer but I can point you in a good general direction.
First, I will say rowing is more of a cardio workout than strength building exercise. To gain a lot of muscle, you will need to supplement rowing with weight training.
If you just want to build lean muscle and become “shredded” or “ripped”, then a rowing machine can achieve this.
The best way to gain lean muscle is to perform HIIT exercises (high intensity interval training). These exercises are very short and intense. They help to “shock” and break down your muscle fibers which leads to growth.
Great rowing HIIT exercises can be rowing for 20 seconds as hard as possible, followed by 20 seconds of rest. You then repeat this as many times as you can. Total workout time will be less than 10 minutes.
Before or after my HIIT exercises I like to do some supplemental exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and kettlebells.
I wrote an article outlining all the muscles used while rowing you can check out.
I also wrote an article explaining how kettlebells and rowing machines are the perfect match!
In my opinion, this is the best way to build lean muscle from rowing and this is how I got into the best shape of my life!
What is the Time Frame For Your Goals?
Having different time frames for your goals can also drastically effect the amount of time you need to spend on the rowing machine, especially for weight loss goals.
If you take the previous example of losing 16 lbs. in 2 months, we calculated you may need to row anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.
However, if you expand your time frame to 4 months you may only need to spend 15 minutes per day on the rowing machine! You could also use the rowing machine for 30 minutes every other day.
A lot easier to manage!
Giving yourself enough time to achieve your goals is always important. The more time you have, the less stress you will have and the easier it will be to make adjustments to your workout plans.
How Much Time Do You Have to Exercise?
While it is easy to say you must spend 90 minutes a day exercising, I understand that people are busy!
It can be helpful to first figure out how much time a day you have for exercising.
If you have less than an hour a day I recommend auditing all your activities and finding activities that can be removed from your schedule.
This includes things like Facebook, emails, Netflix, reading, TV, etc.. Anything that doesn’t involve your core goals for your family, job, or health should be taken out of your schedule!
If you have a favorite show you like to watch, then watch it while rowing!
I promise you there is always time to exercise. You just have to make it a priority.
Once you figure out how much time you have to work out, I suggest adding it to your schedule and making it a necessary part of your routine.
Building a habit of exercising every day is the best way to make sure you won’t fail to reach your goal.
What is the Least Amount of Time You Can Row?
I actually get this question a lot! Many readers want to know the least amount of time they can spend on a rowing machine to see results.
First off, I think this is a bad attitude and outlook to have before starting to exercise. You shouldn’t be looking for the easy way out but instead you should create a goal and figuring out the amount of work/time you need to achieve this goal!
However, I believe a person can row for 15-20 minutes per day and start seeing results in a few weeks.
Rowing for 15-20 minutes every day can help a person lose about 0.5 lbs. per week or more depending on their current state of health.
The more “out of shape” you are, the easier and faster you will be able to lose weight.
You can also start eating a very healthy diet on top of rowing 20 minutes a day and begin seeing very amazing results!
How Long Should You Row on a Rowing Machine?
Hopefully, after reading through some of the questions you have a better idea of how long you should row on a rowing machine.
In a nutshell, it comes down to what are your goals and what is the time frame for completing them?
Below I will break down some different rowing machine times per day and goals you can achieve by doing them.
Rowing Machine 15 Minutes a Day
If you use a rowing machine 15 minutes a day and you are trying to lose weight, you will need a longer time frame for your goals.
Rowing 15 minutes a day can burn about 150-300 calories depending on the intensity levels.
This means you can lose 0.5 lbs. per week without dieting. So to lose 10 lbs. you would need a time frame of 20 weeks!
However, rowing 15 minutes a day can often lead to losing more than 0.5 lbs. a week because your body’s metabolism will increase, which will lead to more calories burned overall.
You can also add a healthy diet to lose another 1 lb. per week on top of your rowing machine weight loss.
Rowing intensely for 15 minutes a day can also greatly improve anaerobic conditioning and help build lean muscle.
Rowing Machine 30 Minutes a Day
If you use a rowing machine 30 minutes a day you should be able to lose 1 lb. a week (or more!).
I think losing 1 lb. a week is the healthiest way to lose weight and also keep the weight off. I often see many people lose a lot more, but I feel they have a higher chance of putting weight back on due to the weight loss not being sustainable.
Check out this video to see the progress this woman made rowing at least 20 minutes a day for 30 days:
A lot of factors come into play while losing weight. A person who is more overweight can easily lose more than 1 lb. a week rowing for 30 minutes a day!
Using a rowing machine 30 minutes a day can also help to improve anaerobic and aerobic conditioning. Most people will see lean muscle development in their core, legs, arms, back, and chest.
Rowing Machine 90 Minutes a Day
Using a rowing machine 90 minutes a day is for serious rowers or people really driven to lose weight.
Rowing for 90 minutes can burn over 1,000 calories per session which adds up to losing 2 lbs. a week from rowing alone.
Using a rowing machine 90 minutes a day will also give your metabolism a huge boost so you may even lose up to 3-4 lbs. a week depending on your current weight and health.
Couple this with a healthy diet and you are on your way to seeing results fast!
Rowing for 90 minutes a day is an excellent aerobic exercise and is great for any long distance training. People who use the rowing machine 90 minutes a day will become lean and very “cut”.
I have read many testimonials of people rowing for 60 – 90 minutes a day and having huge success! The Concept2 website has some examples of people losing over 100 lbs. in 5 months just from rowing!
How Long Will It Take You to Do a 500-Meter on a Rowing Machine?
You will most probably take 1:30 split time, although someone else might take 2:0. But this split time depends largely on your fitness level. Some factors also affecting your 500-meter split time include age, weight, and height.
Usually, males ranging from 19 to 29 years in age have an average split time of 1.33.9, with 1:13.5 being the best time posted, according to Concept2 rowing machine rankings. So, many factors will affect the amount of time you spend on a rowing machine completing a 500-meter distance.
If you post a better time than 2:0, say 1:30, it doesn’t mean you’re in better shape. But if all factors remain constant, it could mean your fitness level is higher. But generally speaking, you will build muscle in essential places to post a better split time. Therefore, consider using your rower for a full body workout to pack some muscles for exceptional strength.
Check out some of these amazing rowing machine before and after photos!
What Does Keep a Steady Rate on a Rowing Machine Mean?
A steady rate is the heart rate you will achieve and maintain for at least 20 minutes to give your cardiovascular system the workout it needs. When exercising with an indoor rowing machine, most of the time, giving yourself a cardiovascular workout is your number one goal. But to do this, maintain a given heart rate for 30 to 90 minutes.
Usually, using 18 to 22 strokes per minute will achieve the desired heart rate and maintain it for an optimal cardiovascular workout. But for most people, using 25 strokes per minute achieves the ideal heart rate for an excellent cardiovascular workout.
After figuring out how many strokes per minute will achieve the perfect heart rate for a cardiovascular workout, you want to maintain those strokes at a steady state for rowing times ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your cardiovascular workout goal.
What Does Split Time Mean on Rowing Machines?
The split time refers to your speed in completing a 500-meter distance on your rower. Most people achieve a split time of 1:30, meaning it took them 1 and a half minutes to cover 500 meters. Also, if your slit time is 2:0, it means you took 2 minutes to cover the same distance. Therefore, split refers to your speed.
Can You Achieve a Full Body Workout with a Rower?
Yes, you can achieve a full body workout on a rowing machine. A rower not only works your arms since it also works your legs. More specifically, it trains the muscles in your upper body 35% and does the same for your legs 75%.
Every time you have time to spend on a rowing machine, it exercises muscles in your lower body, such as the glutes, calves, and quadriceps. At the same time, your rower builds muscles in your upper body, such as abdominal muscles. Also, your arms, pecs, and obliques will benefit as well.
Usually, your rower engages your leg muscles during the drive phase of the stroke. Since rowing on an ergometer trains muscles in your upper and lower body, you will achieve a full body workout when using a rowing machine for training.
Can You Build Endurance and Power by Rowing?
Yes, you can build incredible power and endurance when training on your rowing machine. Rowing on an erg builds muscle mass and strength in crucial body parts such as your arms, legs, and abdomen.
With powerful arms, you can punch a bag with incredible power. Therefore, a rower builds power in your muscles, allowing you to exert maximum force within a short time. Also, you can kick the same bag with power since you will gain leg muscles packed with strength.
At the same time, you can improve your endurance for running long distances if you often row on an erg. And this comes about from the cardiovascular training you receive when rowing.
With your heart and lungs built to accommodate more blood and air, you will have enough strength to endure running over longer distances or jumping countless times. Therefore, rowing is strength training to increase your muscle mass and strength to boost your power and endurance.
How Much Weight Can I Lose with a Rowing Machine?
You can expect to shed 0.142 pounds from your weight if you row for 30 minutes to an hour daily. But this depends on a few factors. You might be rowing for the sole purpose of losing weight.
You can really transform your body with a rower. I wrote an article called ” Rowing Machine Before and After: Transformations & Weight Loss Results” to learn more about the main benefits of using rowing machines.
If you aim to lose weight when rowing, you want to develop a calorie deficit first. But to develop a calorie deficit, you want to burn more calories than you consume from your diet. And the best way to do this is to cut your consumed calories and burn calories on a rower.
When starting your weight loss journey, you want to begin with a 1,000-calorie deficit. More specifically, you want to reduce your calorie intake by 500 and burn 500 more calories on your rower. Usually, it will take you 30 minutes to burn 500 calories. And with this modest rowing, you can shed 16 pounds from your weight in 2 months!
You can burn even more calories to speed up your weight loss or lose more than 16 pounds from your weight.
Does Performing Anaerobic Exercise on a Rower Help Me Lose Weight?
Yes, an anaerobic rowing workout can help you lose weight and benefit you in several ways. You will use maximum effort to perform strokes over the shortest time possible to perform an anaerobic rowing workout.
Since this activity burns more calories, it allows you to lose weight. Also, weight training uses the same energy stores as an anaerobic rowing workout, which could help you shed a few pounds from your weight.
In addition to losing weight, anaerobic exercise builds your cardiovascular strength or endurance and essential muscles. Therefore, you want to incorporate anaerobic conditioning workouts in your rowing sessions. And that’s because this rowing workout has additional benefits.
How Does Aerobic Exercise Differ from an Anaerobic Rowing Workout?
An aerobic exercise uses prolonged rowing sessions at low to moderate workout intensity. It differs from an anaerobic workout since it uses low intensity, giving your body enough time to take oxygen from the air. Since aerobic exercise uses oxygen to break down the carb and fat reserves for energy, your rowing sessions will generally be longer.
Most of the time, aerobic exercise uses energy from your fat reserves. But if the workout intensity increases, your body shifts to carbohydrates for energy. Also, aerobic exercise will build your strength and clear your arteries. Therefore, you want to incorporate it into your rowing routine.
As you can see, figuring out how long you should row on a rowing machine is not an easy task.
You should first set SMART goals and make sure to have a time frame listed.
From there, you can work backwards into how long you should be rowing everyday and for how many days a week.
Giving yourself more time to achieve your goals always makes achieving the goal a little easier and your workout times a little shorter. It is much easier to row for 20 minutes a day rather than 60 minutes a day!
I know life can be busy but making exercise a priority is the key to leading a healthy life. We only have one body, so it is a good idea to put our health very high on our priority list!
If you need help finding a rowing machine you can fill out my questionnaire and I’ll select the best model for you!
You can also check out my bestselling Concept2 Model D Rower Review. The best rowing machine for weight loss and overall exercise.
If you have specific questions about how long to row on a rowing machine or how long to see results, please leave them in the comment section below.
Each person’s goals are specific and will have a specific answer. I’m always glad to help :)
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.