Rowing Machine Before and After Transformations: Unleash Your Weight Loss Potential

rowing machine transformations

Are you ready to transform your body and take your fitness to new heights?  

As a seasoned rower and fitness professional, I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible power of rowing machines in helping people shed pounds and sculpt their physiques. 

In this detailed guide, I’ll share inspiring rowing machine before and after stories, expert tips for maximizing weight loss results, and strategies for staying motivated throughout your fitness journey. 

Get ready to embark on a life-changing adventure with the ultimate secret weapon for weight loss: the rowing machine. 

Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!

Benefits of Rowing Machines for Weight Loss

Rowing machines offer numerous advantages for those looking to shed pounds and improve their overall fitness. Here are some key benefits of using a rowing machine for weight loss.

rowing machine before and after

Full Body Workout

Rowing engages virtually all major muscle groups, including the legs, core, back, and arms, providing a comprehensive workout that targets both upper and lower body muscles. Studies have shown that it engages 86 percent of the muscles in your body.

This full-body engagement leads to greater calorie burn and more efficient weight loss compared to exercises that only focus on specific muscle groups.

Rowing also gives your core a great workout. The entire core area works to stabilize and balance your body as you perform the rowing motion.

Low-Impact Workout

Rowing is very joint-friendly, meaning it puts minimal stress on your joints. That’s because it is an example of a closed-chain exercise. Closed chain exercises keep your feet in contact with the surface at all times. 

This makes it an ideal option for individuals with joint issues or those who are new to exercise and looking for a safe and effective way to begin their weight loss journey.

In contrast, open-chain exercises, such as running on a treadmill, involve bringing your feet off the surface and back down again. This results in ankle, knee, and hip joint impact. 

But there’s more – studies show that rowing can actually improve the rotary motion in your knees, shoulders, and elbows.

Cardiovascular Workout

Rowing is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that helps improve heart and lung function, increase endurance, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular rowing workouts can contribute to better overall health, which is an important factor in long-term weight management.

High Calorie Burn

The combination of aerobic and strength training involved in rowing can lead to significant calorie burn. Depending on factors such as your weight, intensity, and duration, rowing can burn between 400-800 calories per hour, making it a highly effective workout for weight loss.

A Harvard study showed that you can lose 200-300 calories with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity rowing. If you go all out, you can double those numbers.

Mental Health Benefits

Rowing can also provide mental health benefits, such as reduced stress, improved mood, and increased self-esteem. Engaging in regular exercise can help create a positive mindset, which is crucial for maintaining the motivation and discipline required for successful weight loss.

Check out our complete guide on rowing machine benefits.

How Will Rowing Change My Body? 

After your first rowing machine workout, you will feel quite a lot of soreness in your back, shoulders, and quads. That’s a good sign; it means that they are getting stronger. That soreness will go away as your body gets used to this type of exercise.

You will start to see improvements in your cardiovascular fitness after a week or two of regular rowing machine use. Your heart and lungs will get stronger, allowing for the more efficient transportation of oxygen and nutrients through the blood. 

In terms of weight loss, regular workouts will contribute to the burning of stored body fat so long as they are coupled with a diet that results in a daily caloric deficit, which we will cover shortly. The combination of rowing machine workouts and smart nutrition can result in a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.

Because rowing combines strength and cardio exercise, the weight loss you achieve from a sensible rowing program will be all fat, rather than some fat and some muscle. That means that your body shape will change for the better, as your fat disappears and the muscle gets more toned and athletic.

For the best transformation results, you should combine rowing machine workouts with strength training to work the individual muscles of your body.

Your posture is also likely to improve a lot. Just watch this video by Bravo and see how much rowing every day for 30 days improved his posture. 

YouTube video

Heres another 30 day rowing weight loss transformation by Billy Brendan

YouTube video

Calories Burned on A  Rowing Machine

The calories that you burn on a rowing machine depend on a number of variables. These include …

  • Your weight
  • Your metabolism
  • The intensity of your workout

The following chart provides a breakdown of average calorie burn by weight for light, medium and vigorous rowing …

WeightActivity LevelCalories in 30 mins
100 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous159/168/273
125 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous199/242/341
150 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous239/290/409
175 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous279/338/478
200 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous319/387/546
225 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous359/435/614
250 lbsLight/Medium/ Vigorous399/483/682

These calorie estimations were derived from the Compendium of Physical Activities through Cornell University’s METs to Calories Calculator.

How Long Will It Take to See Results From A Rowing Machine? 

You will only see results from a rowing machine if you establish a consistent workout pattern. Infrequent, hit-or-miss sessions will not get the results you are after. 

You will see cardiovascular improvement with a couple of weeks of working out. You’ll have more energy and take longer to get puffed out. In terms of weight loss, so long as you are combining your workouts with healthy, smart nutrition, you should begin to see a loss of about one pound per week. 

Because rowing is working your muscles at the same time as it is burning calories, you may add some muscle mass initially. This is especially likely to be the case if you have not done any resistance training in the past.

A pound a week may not sound like much. Many people are misled by unrealistic advertising and fake before and after results. Dismiss anything that talks about rapid weight loss and amazing overnight transformations. Slow and steady is what wins the race every time!

If you were to lose a pound of fat every week, you would be 52 pounds later this time next year. Think about what that would mean to how you look in the mirror!

Rowing Machine Before and After: Real-Life Transformations

I’ve witnessed countless lives transformed by the power of rowing machines. The before and after results are often astonishing and showcase what can be achieved with a bit of consistency. 

We reached out to the Start Rowing community and in this section, we’ll explore some inspiring real-life transformations that demonstrate the effectiveness of rowing machine training.

Featured Individuals

In order to showcase a diverse range of experiences, we’ve selected four individuals to share their rowing machine before and after stories. Each person had unique challenges and goals, but what they have in common is their dedication to making a positive change.

Before and After Stats

For each individual, we’ll share their rowing machine before and after images, along with some key statistics to highlight their progress.

  1. Samantha

Before: 220 lbs, BMI 34 

After: 145 lbs, BMI 22

  1. Morgan

Before: 157 lbs, BMI 25.5

After: 146.6 lbs, BMI 23.8

  1. Michael

Before: 280 lbs, BMI 36.2

After: 200 lbs, BMI 25.8

  1. Karen

Before: 175 lbs, BMI 28

After: 130 lbs, BMI 21

Personal Rowing Stories and Experiences

1. Samantha’s Rowing Machine Weight Loss Results

Samantha, a busy mother of two, struggled with her weight for a few years. She discovered rowing after reading a Harvard Health article on the best exercises for weight loss. Samantha committed to rowing daily and soon fell in love with it and the benefits it brought. 

As Samantha’s journey progressed, she found that setting small, achievable goals helped her stay motivated and focused. She began challenging herself to reach specific milestones, such as completing a 10,000-meter row and increasing her average split time. 

These incremental goals fueled her progress and led her to develop a genuine passion for rowing.

Samantha’s weight loss journey also had a significant impact on her family life. As she grew stronger and more confident, she began to involve her children in her workouts, teaching them the value of a healthy, active lifestyle. This bonding experience not only enriched their lives but also reinforced Samantha’s commitment to her newfound path.

In Samantha’s own words:

“My rowing journey has been nothing short of transformative. Not only did I achieve my weight loss goals, but I also discovered a lifelong passion for fitness. The best part is that I’ve been able to share this journey with my family, creating healthier habits for all of us. Rowing has changed my life in ways I never thought possible.”

With the support of an online Facebook community for weight loss, Samantha has maintained her healthy lifestyle and has now even completed a half-marathon on her rowing machine.

2. Morgan’s Rowing Machine Journey

Morgan embarked on her rowing journey 25 weeks ago with the goal of losing weight and improving her mental health. She started at 157 lbs and aimed to reach around 140 lbs. Morgan combined her rowing workouts with intermittent fasting, limiting carbs and sugars, and practicing yoga for 20 minutes daily. She admits that she could have been stricter with herself, but her progress is a testament to the power of perseverance.

Around week 20, Morgan’s weight fluctuated between 149 and 152 lbs, which led her to incorporate more outdoor activities and a 40-hour bone broth fast to jumpstart her progress. She took a brief hiatus from rowing but recently resumed her workouts on the Hydrow rower. Morgan now alternates between outdoor activities and rowing to reach her ultimate goal.

Morgan giving the thumbs up after her workout on the Hydrow rower
Morgans all smiles after her Hydrow workout.

Throughout her journey, Morgan has learned the importance of mental health and self-care, stressing that working out can truly make a difference. By drinking lots of water, cutting down on bread and sugar, staying active, and practicing daily fasting, Morgan has discovered a weight loss approach that works best for her. 

Morgan had this to say:

“I am super proud of myself because I was worried I couldn’t do it again. I gained 15 pounds so fast from stress this winter…I thought I was stuck. BUT sticking with rowing each day, even if I ate after 8 pm, or ate carbs or sugar, or processed food, or slipped up and ate 2 or 3 times a day…the next day I tried again.

You gotta get back on the horse If you want to ride and it’s always nice to do something for yourself. It’s so important for your mental health. Rowing can really help you!”

3. Michael’s Rowing Machine Transformation

Michael, a former college football player, gained weight after an injury sidelined his athletic pursuits. Tired of feeling sluggish and unhappy with his appearance, he turned to rowing as a way to build strength and endurance without aggravating his old injuries. 

Michael incorporated high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into his rowing routine, which helped him shed 80 lbs.

Throughout his transformation, Michael discovered the value of discipline and perseverance. He understood that consistency was key to achieving his weight loss goals, and he pushed himself to overcome any physical or mental barriers. 

In addition to rowing, Michael adopted a healthier lifestyle by making small, sustainable changes to his diet. He replaced unhealthy snacks with nutritious alternatives and incorporated more whole foods into his meals. These changes, combined with his rowing workouts, allowed him to regain the athletic confidence he had lost after his injury.

Michael reflects on his journey:

“My Concept2 rower has been a lifesaver in more ways than one. Not only did it help me lose weight and reclaim my athletic identity, but it also taught me the importance of discipline, consistency, and self-belief when feeling very low. There were moments when I doubted my ability to come back, but my increased determination carried me through. I’ve come so far, and I’m extremely pleased with my results.”

4. Karen’s Rowin€g Machine Success Story

Karen, a self-described “fitness novice,” turned to rowing after a friend recommended it as a gentle yet effective form of exercise. 

At first, Karen found it challenging to maintain a consistent workout schedule but soon discovered that the rowing machine offered everything she wanted from a workout.  

Karen’s rowing journey taught her the importance of patience and self-compassion. As someone new to fitness, she faced a steep learning curve, which initially left her feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. However, Karen soon realized that progress is not linear, and it’s important to celebrate every small victory along the way.

Working with a personal trainer, they were able to tailor her workouts to her needs and preferences, gradually increasing intensity and duration as her fitness level improved. This personalized approach allowed her to remain engaged and excited about her workouts, ultimately leading to her successful weight loss.

Karen shares her thoughts on her journey:

“Embarking on my rowing journey was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It wasn’t always easy, and there were moments of self-doubt, but I learned to embrace my progress and be patient with myself. The support of my personal trainer has been invaluable, and I now have a newfound love for fitness. I’m stronger, healthier, and happier than ever before.”

Tips and Tricks for Rowing Weight Loss Success

Each of our featured individuals had their own unique tips and tricks that contributed to their success.

  • Samantha: Set small, achievable goals to stay motivated, and don’t be afraid to involve your family in your fitness journey. Sharing your progress with loved ones can provide invaluable support and motivation.
  • Morgan: Be patient with yourself and stay consistent, even if you only sometimes follow your plan perfectly. Incorporate outdoor activities to keep things fresh and focus on mental health and self-care.
  • Michael: Incorporate HIIT into your rowing routine to maximize weight loss and improve cardiovascular health. Embrace the power of discipline and consistency in your rowing journey, and don’t forget to make small, sustainable changes to your diet for lasting results.
  • Karen: Be patient with your progress and celebrate every small victory. Consider working with a personal trainer to create a personalized workout plan that aligns with your fitness level and goals. Remember that progress is not linear, and self-compassion is crucial for long-term success.

How to Maximize Weight Loss Results with a Rowing Machine

As our featured transformations have shown, rowing machines can be a powerful tool for weight loss and improved fitness. To help you achieve similar results, we’ll discuss some key strategies to maximize the benefits of your rowing workouts.

Proper Rowing Technique

Using the correct rowing technique is essential for maximizing weight loss results and preventing injury. Follow these steps to ensure proper form:

  1. Catch: Sit on the rowing machine with your knees bent, shins vertical, and arms extended forward, grasping the handle. Keep your back straight and lean forward slightly at the hips.
  2. Drive: Push through your legs, extending your knees and hips. As your legs straighten, lean back slightly and pull the handle towards your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  3. Finish: Maintain a straight back and engaged core as you complete the stroke. Your legs should be fully extended, and the handle should be at your lower chest.
  4. Recovery: Reverse the sequence, extending your arms forward and leaning your torso forward. Bend your knees and glide back to the starting position (the catch).

Consistency and Frequency of Workouts

Consistency is key when it comes to weight loss. Aim to row at least 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes per session. As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the duration or intensity of your workouts to continue challenging yourself and promoting weight loss.

Incorporating Interval Training

High-intensity interval training can boost your weight loss results by increasing calorie burn both during and after your workout. To incorporate HIIT into your rowing routine, alternate between periods of intense rowing (e.g., 1-2 minutes at 90% effort) and active recovery (e.g., 1-2 minutes at 50% effort). 

Repeat these intervals for the duration of your workout.

Combining Rowing with Other Exercises and a Balanced Diet

While rowing is an effective full-body workout, it’s important to incorporate other forms of exercise to target different muscle groups and even prevent boredom. You can achieve this by including strength training, flexibility exercises (e.g., yoga or stretching), and additional forms of cardiovascular activity in your routine.

Additionally, a balanced diet of course plays a crucial role in weight loss. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods, such as lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid or minimize processed foods, added sugars, and excessive amounts of unhealthy fats.

The key benefit of rowing in terms of weight loss is that it burns calories. In order to lose stored calories in the form of body fat, you need to create a daily caloric deficit. This is when your calorie intake is less than your caloric expenditure. Rowing, in itself, will not create that caloric deficit.

Eating less food is the easiest way to create a caloric deficit. As an example, a blueberry muffin will contain around 385 calories. It would take a 200-pound man less than a minute to eat that muffin, but around 30 minutes to burn its caloric equivalent on the rowing machine. 

Here are some simple nutrition guidelines to go along with your rowing workouts …

  • Reduce your daily calico intake by 500 calories below your maintenance level.
  • Eat a palm-sized portion of lean protein at each meal.
  • Prioritize healthy fats like avocados, nuts, coconut and olive oil, and fatty fish.
  • Cut back on processed carbs, replacing them with vegetables and fruits.
  • Drink half a gallon of water daily

By following these tips and maintaining a consistent, well-rounded fitness routine, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your weight loss goals using a rowing machine.

Tips for Staying Motivated and Reaping the Benefits of the Rowing Machine 

Staying motivated is essential for long-term weight loss success. Here are some tips to help you remain inspired and committed to your rowing machine fitness journey:

Set Realistic Goals

Establish clear, attainable goals for your weight loss and fitness journey. Break down larger objectives into smaller, measurable milestones, and celebrate your achievements along the way. By setting realistic goals, you’ll maintain a sense of accomplishment and motivation.

Track Your Progress

It’s vital that you track your progress. Keep a log of your rowing workouts, noting details such as distance, time, and average split. Regularly monitoring your progress can help you identify patterns, make adjustments as needed, and stay motivated by witnessing your improvement over time.

Connect with Communities

Engage with fellow rowers, either in person or online, to share experiences, advice, and encouragement. If you use an interactive rowing machine such as the Ergatta or Aviron you can engage with other members on the platform for motivation.  

You could even join a rowing club, participate in virtual races, or follow rowing-related social media accounts like ours @startrowing.  Connecting with others who share your passion can provide invaluable support and motivation.

Mix Up Your Workouts

As tey say, variety is the spice of life, and the same holds true for your fitness routine. To prevent boredom and burnout, mix up your rowing workouts by incorporating different types of training (e.g., steady-state, interval, or endurance workouts). 

You can also experiment with different resistance levels or rowing machine settings to keep things fresh and challenging. We also have many workouts you can try. 

Create a Reward System

Establish a reward system for yourself, such as treating yourself to a special indulgence or buying new workout gear when you reach specific milestones. These incentives can help you stay motivated and maintain a positive mindset throughout your journey.

Stay Accountable

Enlist the help of a workout buddy or share your goals with friends and family members. By involving others in your fitness journey, you’ll create a support system that can hold you accountable and provide encouragement when you need it most.

Types of Rowing Workouts 

A rowing machine is a tool that can be used to achieve a range of goals. Each one will require a slightly different type of workout. 

Here are four popular and effective rowing machine workouts for you to experiment with.

Tabata Rowing

Tabata is the original form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This is a very short but extremely intense workout. After a two-minute warmup, you do 8 rounds of a 20-second maximum intensity sprint followed by a 10-second rest. You then finish with a two-minute warm-down.

AMRAP Rowing Cindy

AMRAP Rowing Cindy is a popular CrossFit workout. It combines rowing with the following bodyweight exercises …

  • 5 Pull-Ups
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 15 Air Squats

After completing the above three exercises you jump on the rowing machine and keep going until you have burned 20 calories.

This is a twenty-minute countdown workout. Your goal is to get through as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) before the time expires. 

Rowing Calorie Ladder

With this workout, every minute you are targeting a certain calorie count, You then get to rest for the remainder of that minute. Here is how it works …

  • Minute One – burn one calorie
  • Minute Two – burn two calories
  • Minute Three – burn three calories
  • Minute Four – burn four calories
  • Minute Five – burn five calories
  • Minute Six – burn six calories
  • Minute Seven – burn one calorie
  • Minute Eight – burn two calories

You can continue in this pattern for as long as you like. 

Calorie Countdown Rowing Pyramid

With this workout, you set reducing calorie burn mini-goals. You get to have a short rest once you have reached that goal. The work-rest ratio is 1:1. Here is what it looks like …

  • Burn 50 calories
  • Burn 40 calories
  • Burn 30 calories
  • Burn 20 calories
  • Burn 10 calories
  • Burn  5 calories

Work up to doing three or four rounds of the workout. 

How to Incorporate Rowing into Your Workout Routine? 

As we’ve already seen, rowing makes a great cardio workout option. If you are already doing some other form of cardio such as running on a treadmill or using an elliptical, swap out one or two sessions per week with a rowing machine. Then, build up so that rowing becomes your main form of cardio.

Your rowing workout should be balanced with resistance training. You can combine the two by doing a circuit program similar to the AMRAP Cindy workout detailed above. 

If you are planning to keep your resistance training and your rowing workouts separate, I recommend doing your resistance training before your rowing machine workout. In my experience, a good rowing machine will leave you too exhausted to give 100 percent focus and effort to weights or other resistance workouts. However, resistance training is not going to have the same effect.

Alternatively, you can do your resistance training and rowing workouts on alternate days. 

Before You Go…

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and motivation to harness the power of rowing machines for weight loss, it’s time to take action and embark on your own transformation journey. 

Remember, the key to success lies in consistency, determination, and a willingness to push your limits.

If you’re unsure about which rowing machine is right for you, don’t worry! Our comprehensive buyer’s guide will walk you through the process of choosing the perfect rower to suit your needs and preferences.

As you set out on your fitness adventure, we’d love to hear about your progress, experiences, and any questions you may have. Feel free to share your thoughts and stories in the comments section below. Your experiences might just inspire others to take the leap and begin their own rowing machine journey.

Let’s get rowing and achieve those weight-loss goals together!

Rowing Machine Before and After FAQs

Can you get in shape by just rowing?

Yes, you can get in shape by just rowing. Rowing is a full-body workout that engages both upper and lower body muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, and burns calories. However, it’s important to maintain a well-rounded fitness routine, including strength training and flexibility exercises, for optimal results.

Is 20 minutes of rowing enough?

A 20-minute rowing session can provide a good workout, particularly if you focus on maintaining proper technique and intensity. For optimal weight loss and fitness benefits, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity rowing or 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training on most days of the week.

Does rowing change your body shape?

Yes, rowing can change your body shape. Regular rowing workouts can help you lose fat, build lean muscle, and improve overall body composition. Rowing primarily targets the legs, core, back, and arms, resulting in a more toned and sculpted appearance.

How long will it take to see results from a rowing machine?

The time it takes to see results from a rowing machine varies based on factors such as your starting fitness level, workout intensity, and consistency. However, most individuals can expect to see noticeable improvements in their strength, endurance, and body composition within 4 to 6 weeks of consistent rowing workouts.

Can you lose belly fat using a rowing machine?

Yes, you can lose belly fat on a rowing machine. Rowing is an effective calorie-burning exercise that can contribute to overall fat loss, including belly fat. To maximize belly fat loss, combine rowing workouts with a healthy, balanced diet and other forms of exercise.

Is rowing good for love handles?

Rowing can help reduce love handles by burning calories and promoting overall fat loss. While rowing does not specifically target the love handle area, it does engage the core muscles, which can contribute to a more toned midsection when combined with a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine.

Steve Theunissen


Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and school teacher and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

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