How Often Should I Use the Rowing Machine?

The rowing machine often plays second fiddle to the more popular treadmill and elliptical trainers at the gym, but this effective cardio machine can help you burn up to 316 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous work if you weigh 155 pounds. How often you use the rowing machine depends on your particular fitness goals. Beginners looking to build up their general cardiovascular fitness should start with just 15 minutes a day, two to three times per week, while competitive rowers might use the rower almost daily to hone their technique.

Man using rowing machine (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Row, Row, Row Your Workout

In theory, you could use the rowing machine for every one of your cardio workouts, but if your goal is general fitness, you'll benefit from varying your workout regularly. Performing repetitive movement on the rowing machine can lead to back strain and knee pain, especially if your form is off.

Combine two or three rowing workouts per week with jogging, cycling or fitness classes, for example. Someone looking to improve their health with exercise will do cardio 150 to 300 minutes, or more, per week. For weight loss, you'll need to go 250 minutes or more; and, if you love rowing, you can spend the majority of that time on the rowing machine as long as you don't experience pain.

How the Pros Row

A competitive rower uses the rowing machine to augment outdoor training and strength training year round. In the fall, these athletes might use the rower for long sessions with low resistance while in the spring -- closer to competition -- the emphasis is on shorter workouts at a higher intensity. To prevent injury, ramp up the time you use the rowing machine gradually. Most injuries related to rowing occur because you do too much too soon.

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