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How Many Calories Can You Burn on a Rowing Machine?

Updated February 21, 2017

A rowing machine, also known as an "indoor rower" or "ergometer," is a workout machine that simulates rowing a canoe or rowboat. A rowing machine usually consists of a seat incorporating a pulley system with a handle. The user sits on the apparatus while pulling the handle, which is attached to a chain. The resistance of the rowing machine can be set to customise it for an individual workout.

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Proper Use of a Rowing Machine

A rowing machine is used for weight resistance and cardiovascular training. Sit comfortably in the machine and adjust the seat for height. Set the resistance, which is determined with weights, water, piston, or magnetic resistance, usually by adjusting a pin or dial. Take the handle with both hands and engage the entire body while rowing, alternating sides to get an even workout and avoid injuring the back.

Burning Calories on a Rowing Machine

According to the Health Status Calorie Calculator (see Resources), moderate rowing for 20 minutes will burn 159 calories in a 150-pound individual. Moderate rowing means setting the machine at medium or light resistance and rowing at a comfortable pace rather than rowing as quickly as possible. That same individual will burn 198 calories doing vigorous rowing for 20 minutes--a high resistance setting and commitment to rowing as quickly as possible.

Warnings About Rowing Machines

A rowing machine is a quick way to burn calories in the gym or at home if you're healthy and in good shape. But if you have neck or back problems, using a rowing machine can be a strain on your neck and back. Consult your physical therapist or general practitioner before using a rowing machine if you have had any back or neck injuries. Maintain good posture to avoid pulling any muscles in your back or neck.

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