Does Rowing Machines Burn More Calories Than Running?

If you recently started with a rowing machine, then you must know how to lose weight with it. When you compare rowing with running, it may seem a bit unclear. But if you’re looking for ways to add variety to your exercises, then it’s vital to know each workout method.

Rowing is also gaining much attention in the fitness world. Recently Dr. Cameron Nichol, a former Olympic rower, enumerated the benefits of rowing versus treadmill running exercises on Chanel 4 TV. From the show, Nichol clearly shows that rowing activates many muscle groups and has exercises that target both lower and upper body. He also mentioned the benefits of rowing to the two vital body organs, that is, the heart and lungs.

Also, when you compare a treadmill with a rowing machine, both are useful methods of losing weight. However, the question of which is “better” lingers in our minds. While the treadmill is helpful in lower body exercises, the rowing machine exercises’ focuses on both the lower and upper body. Rowing works out all your body which makes it easier to build muscle.

Research from experts also considers running indoors and outdoors as unhealthy for your health. As the research shows, athletes exert 4-8 times their body weight on each joint which can severely damage them. It is the reason most athletes in the industry experience joint-related injuries and is responsible for the resurfacing of some medical industries.

More so, the joint problem is common when people who have weak muscles exert much pressure on their joints. Considering the vast force that one applies to the ankles, knees, and hips, running harder is detrimental to a person’s health. It is the reason most fitness experts recommend rowing as it is less damaging than running.

Rowing exerts minimum pressure on your joints which ensures your health remains well. The indoor rowing machine is perfect for use as it has no weight-bearing. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about joint-related injuries which are common in weight-bearing fitness equipment.

Also, rowing is less disruptive than most forms of exercising. The older people who have weak and fragile bones resort to rowing as the best form of exercise. The main reason is, rowing provides them with versatility as they can choose to train intensely or moderately. Rowing is also suitable for people who are recovering from injuries or surgery. They can work out their bodies slowly, which helps them to keep their bodies in shape as they recover.

Rowing machines 

With a good rowing machine, you can exercise on multiple muscles at once. It usually starts with the back and arms muscles such as biceps, triceps, deltoids, pecs, and upper back. You will also exercise your core when pulling the rails.

When it comes to full-body workouts, no fitness equipment on the market can compare to a rowing machine.


In 99% of the time, running exercises usually target the lower body. Whether you are running outdoors or running indoors on a treadmill, running can be useful for getting a better lower body physique. This is because running emphasizes on the calves and hamstrings, which helps to strengthen your body.

The sole way of getting both lower and upper in a training motion when running is by using hand weights in a particular movement. However, in the process, you’ll get tired since your hands are vital in providing the energy for running.


In dietetics, a calorie refers to the amount of energy which food provides. The more food we take, the more the calories out body takes. This is because eating food that contains more energy than our bodies require, then our bodies will keep the remaining as food reserves in the form of fats. 

The second definition of a calorie is the amount of energy that 1 gram of water requires to raise itself through 1 degree Celsius.

What determines the number of calories each body needs? 

On average, the amount and type of food we eat daily determine the number of calories in our body. The method of earing and the time also plays a vital role as our bodies use different forms of energy each day. Depending on our activeness, our bodies will use different amounts of energy. Our age also plays a role as we require more power when we are growing as compared to when we become old.

The American Dietary Guidelines of 2015-020 states that women usually require 1600-2400 calories each day while men need 2000-3000 calories every day. The reports suggest that the variation is a result of differences in age, height, size, activities, lifestyle, and general health.

The association also recommends people to take a substantial breakfast every morning to help in weight management. The fruits and vegetables with calories are also better-off than garbs food with the same amount.

Why should you lose more calories?

Most times, you may try to shed fat to have a healthier and better-looking body. Calories necessarily are the amount of energy which comes from the food you eat. When you eat food that produces more power than your body requires, then the body converts the reserve food into body fat. It is the reason the majority of people are overweight.

More so, 70% of the calories in your body are burned through natural body processes such as breathing and respiration. The other 30% should come from the physical exercises that you partake. These workouts burn the excess garbs in your body, which promotes the health of your body organs such as heart and lungs. This reduces the possibility of contracting cardiovascular diseases such as heart and lung-related problems

Why am I not shedding weight?

Also, at times, you may decide to join the weight-loss training programs. Working out your way to losing weight in the first week will be easier for you. Then the harsh reality starts setting in the second week where you find it hard to lose weight. It is because when you lose more weight from your body, the body fights back to restrict you from losing more weight. The result is a loss of small weight even when under straining exercises.

Losing small weight can be discouraging to those who recently started working out for weight loss. But while the process of losing weight reduces gradually, sturdy trainers such as athletes and gym trainers know the art of perseverance. It involves putting all efforts into your training to ensure you improve on core areas.

Combining different workout methods also works for most training. Before joining these programs, ensure you are familiar with the Basal Metabolic Rate (BSM) to know how many calories you can burn. It will set you to reality to avoid higher expectations of losing “much” calories.

Activities that enhance calorie burning

With rowing aside, there are home techniques which you can use to improve your calorie burning. Also understand that the calorie-burning rate depends on factors such as weight, length, and intensity of training.

Aerobic exercises are the best ways of burning body calories. High-intensity interval training (HIT) increase your heart rates which increases the calorie-burning rat. The best HIT method involves alternates of 30 seconds and 1 minute of high-intensity exercise.

Also, when at home you can do some exercises to boost the calories burning rate. Such exercises include walking and push-ups at your convenience and comfort.

Factors that determine the calories one burns 

Though, we may work out at the same intensity and time, the rate at which each injuries calorie is different. Calorie burning is not consistent among individuals and depends on the factors below:

i. Age 

Young people require much energy as they have higher muscle mass. As one age, the muscle mass in his body reduces, and the fat masses take over. The result is one gets fatter. You may not notice it, but when you are in your earlier 20s you have more muscle, but as you reach your 30s, you start getting more overweight. Also, as one age, body metabolism rates slow down, which reduces the rate of calorie burns.

ii. Sex

A man of the same age as a woman requires more energy for their daily activities. Biologically, the body of a man and woman vary in many ways. First, women have more fat mass, while men have more muscle mass. Muscles require more energy; hence, men need more energy to keep their bodies running. With a higher metabolism, men find it easier to lose weight than women when resting or working out.

Also, people with higher muscle mass burns more calories than those with fatter masses. Their bodies require more energy for different muscle activities in the body.

iii. Weight 

The weight of a person plays a vital role in the number of calories he burns. For example, a person who weighs 125 pounds will burn 420 calories when they participate in an hour high-intensity aerobic exercise. On the other hand, a 200-pounds person will burn 672 calories if they take the same activity.

The impact of exercise on the total body weight is visible among many. The higher a weight a person has the more calories they burn. This is because the higher-weighing body requires more energy to function. The same applies when the person is resting or workout. A person with a lower weight requires less energy to run the normal body activities hence lesser weight.

iv. Height 

The height of a person also plays a vital role in the amount of weight they will lose. Taller people burn many calories as opposed to shorter people. The taller people support a heavier weight mass against gravity which requires more energy to achieve the desired balance and flexibility. Shorter people, on the other hand, encounters less resistance while supporting their bodies hence need less energy.

v. Body composition

The body composition determines the number of calories a person burns when resting or working out. A person with high-fat mass requires less energy to run the body. One with a higher muscle mass in the body needs more power to run hence burns more calories to release energy for use.

How to calculate your daily calorie burn

To lose weight faster in your body, you have to burn more calories than the one you take. For that to happen, you should know the number of calories you burn each day. Also, each type of food contains different amounts of calories. Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4g each per every gram. Fats contain nine calories per gram and are the reason people using more fats get overweight quickly.

Also, you should know the factor that influences your calorie burning to get the most of the workouts. While it is hard to calculate the actual calories burned daily, some methods provide you with estimates of the calories burned.

One of the accepted methods of calculating the daily calorie burns is a formula by Harris-Benedict. The Harris-Benedict formula was developed in the 20th century, modified in 1984 and enhanced in 1990 to improve its precision.

The formula uses Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to calculate the level of a person’s physical activity. A person then multiplies the BMR with their daily activity level to find the number of calories they burn daily.

To calculate BMR, use the formulas below:

Men: 66+ (6.2*weight) + (12.7*height)- (6.76*age)

Women: 655.1 +(4.35* weight) +(4.7*height)- (4.7*age)

Activity levels points are listed down below:

  1. 1.2- a person who does not exercise or exercises a little
  2. 1.37- a person who at least exercises 1-3 days each week
  3. 1.55- a moderate exercise which exercises at least 3-5 days every week
  4. 1.725- a person who exercises at 6-7 days every week
  5. 1.9- for the extra-active individual who has a physically challenging routine or tasks.

When you calculate the BMR with your regular daily activity, you’ll get the number of calories you’ll burn daily.

Rowing vs Running: Which is best for burning calories?

If you are unsure whether to row or run for better calories burning, then you’ll find our guide insightful. Basing on top reviews from fitness experts we have come up with a guide on the effectiveness of running and rowing in burning more calories. You should also know that the rates at which we burn calories depend on several factors of our bodies.

  Burning Calories Rowing Running
1. Upper Body Workout Rowing involves a wide range of varying muscle movements that target both the lower and upper body. The result is better body physique, balance, and flexibility. For an upper workout, rowing strengthens the abs, pecs, and biceps for a stronger core. Running is less effective in the upper body workouts. Running focuses on the lower body and builds the muscles, especially those in the upper legs and buttocks. It helps to burn calories in these parts and results in a better body physique in the lower body parts.            
2. Lower Body Workout   Rowing is a useful exercise which also targets the lower body. In the lower body, rowing helps to strengthen your calves, quads, and glutes. Overall, it improves the strength of your muscles. Running is a lower-body exercise which gives your body an effective workout. It strengthens your lower body bones density. It also improves the hamstrings, quads, and glutes strength which result in a better lower body physique.
3. Burning Fat Rowing is best for burning more calories as it is more of a muscular exercise. It’s a wide range of lower and upper body movements result in the burning of most body calories. Running is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of burning calories in your body. However, It only targets the lower body, unlike rowing which focuses both lower and upper body. It is, therefore, less effective in burning calories than rowing.            
4 Cardiovascular fitness Rowing is an aerobic exercise that maximizes your heart rate and improves your cardiovascular fitness Running is an aerobic exercise that increases oxygen consumption and increases pulse rate in the body. The result is the improvement of the cardiovascular system.
5. Impact Rowing is a less impactful exercise which suits it for older people or those with joint injuries Running is a more impactful exercise hence not suitable for many as they can get injuries.            
6. Convenience Rowing is more convenient as you can grow indoors. The rowing machines are also cheaper to maintain than most workout machines. Running is less convenient than rowing. For example, when running outside, you can experience bad weather or traffic, which can hinder your ability to work out well.
7. Affordability For rowing, you can row indoors or in the gym. Though not very cheap, you will easily find a rowing machine that fits your budget. Running is easier to set up and operate. You only need running shoes, motivation, and a place to run.

Rowing vs Running: Final Say

Rowing and running are both effective methods of burning calories. While running focuses on the lower body, rowing focuses on the upper and lower body. Rowing is, therefore, the best method for burning calories as it comes with additional benefits to the body when you compare it with running.

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