How Fast Can Rowing Tone Your Body?

Rowing is a calorie-burning activity that can quickly tone the body. Rowing machine before and after photos often show tone improvement across the entire body. This activity is particularly beneficial for the back, shoulders, abs and arms.

Rowing is a great full body exercise. Credit: yoh4nn/E+/GettyImages

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Rowing is a full-body workout that can show results within a few weeks of starting dedicated exercise.

Build Up Strength for Rowing

Rowing will require a fair amount of time to tone the body when the muscles are not in good shape. This means you must slowly build up your strength and endurance before increasing the intensity of rowing machine workouts. The exact time to achieve the desired tone will vary greatly from individual to another.

Starting the quest for greater tone and muscle definition with a good baseline from regular workouts prior to incorporating the rowing machine can expedite the results. Having the muscle mass and flexibility to jump right into rowing will certainly help push harder in workouts out of the gate.

New rowers, especially those without prior conditioning in other resistance training programs must start slowly. The exercise places strain on the lower back and proper form is critical, as shown by ExRx.net.

Start with short, light rowing workouts and focus on back posture and flexing in the upper back to build the necessary back, leg and abdomen strength required to row properly.

After the muscles gain strength and stamina on the machine, you can gradually increase the intensity and tone your body quickly. That initial building period will also help with tone and definition as the new muscles gain strength and fat is burned during your workouts.

Read more: 10 Types of Low-Impact Exercise That Keep You Fit and Injury-Free

Calories Burned on Rowing Machines

Rowing on a machine or in a boat has a positive effect on blood lipids according to a February 2018 study published in Clinical Biochemistry. This study focused specifically on long-distance rowing, but its findings show significant improvements in lipid profiles, which is good news for your overall health.

The number of calories burned while rowing varies based on the intensity and duration of the workout. The growing trend of rowing machine workouts is attributed to the overall strength and conditioning associated with resistance exercise.

This form of exercise may help build lean mass and increase energy expenditure, which ultimately leads to toned muscles and fat loss. Most machines will track your speed, distance and calories burned during the workout, making it easier to track your progress.

The muscle definition is generalized and doesn't focus on a specific muscle group. If you want bigger biceps or shredded abs, rowing will benefit these areas, but more focused exercises like curls and crunches can tone those specific muscle groups. Rowing is best for overall cardio and strength.

Rowing in the Wild

Rowing on a machine is different from rowing an actual boat. The types of boats vary, which influences body position and the style of exercise performed. Rowing in crew-style boats with a single person or a team is most closely associated with a rowing machine. The body positioning is similar with a low-set seat in crew boats whereas a raft or drift boat has a higher-set seat.

Rowing on a machine comes with the ability to set varying degrees of resistance, but the activity remains more static. This is the case with any gym machine, though. Running on a treadmill, for example, is much different than running on a trail as the ground inclination constantly changes on the trail and more muscles are engaged in the movement.

Rowing in the wild also comes with more mental challenges, especially in hazardous environments like a river where consequences are associated with each stroke. The combination of focus and exercise adds a different dynamic and the distance is chosen before beginning the trip. A rower in the wild must continue, while a rower on a machine can stop at anytime.

Types of Rowing Workouts

Two essential types of rowing workouts exist, and they have very different effects on muscle tone and body weight — although both lead to improvements. The first is high-intensity rowing, which typically require a 20-minute push through a difficult set of resistance and speed. High-intensity workouts push the muscles while raising the heart rate to burn calories.

The second is an endurance approach that requires sustained motion over a longer period of time. Endurance workouts continue to challenge the muscles but not in a manner that will burn them out in short period of time. This training method tends to burn more calories as it often involves exercise sessions lasting for one hour or longer.

Both types of workouts are highly effective and stand to tone the body. Alternating between endurance training and short bursts of exercise is a great approach to developing a well-rounded set of muscles.

The short bursts boosts your metabolism and improve your body's ability to use energy energy due to the increase in oxygen consumption, as the American Council on Exercise notes. Longer workouts torch more calories and boost your cardiovascular fitness.

Take the time to develop a rowing machine workout plan and alternate between workout styles. Variety makes it possible to reap the benefits of endurance and strength building sessions. Focusing on the rowing machine exclusively isn't a common approach to building muscle tone. The machine is best used a few times weekly as part of a workout plan.

Read more: How to Tone Up Quickly for Your Big Event

Track Your Progress

Keeping track of your progress is done by measuring some key stats. Before adding the rowing workouts into your regular schedule, take a before photo for your personal use. Also, note your weight and body fat if desired. Mark areas on the photo where you have excess fat and low tone.

Next, perform a 10-minute rowing workout to determine how you feel. Do a moderate-intensity set — or a low-intensity set if you are not exercising regularly. Take notes about how you feel and which muscles are fatigued and sore during the trial run. These notes create a baseline and open the door for pushing yourself forward while getting in great rowing shape.

Go ahead and set a workout routine with rowing two to four times per week based on this initial trial. Gradually increase the intensity and duration and take weekly notes about how you feel rowing before and after weight loss.

Take weekly or monthly photos and note the changes in your physical appearance. If you eat clean and stick to your workouts, you should see improvements in muscle tone within weeks.

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