Rowing Machine Heart Rate Tips

Rowing machines offer a variety of ways to elevate your heart rate for different benefits. Whether you are looking to achieve a heart rate that will help you burn fat and calories, improve your cardiovascular strength or help you train for more high-intensity sports, rowing machines can help you achieve your workout goals.

Target Heart Rates

Different heart rates produce different physiological benefits. To calculate your target heart rate (THR) to achieve a particular health benefit, start by determining your maximum heart rate (MHR). The most common method for doing this is to subtract your age from 220. If you are 35 years old, your MHR would be 185.

Heart-Healthy Exercises

To get started with an exercise program, begin exercising in the heart-healthy or warm up zone. To do this, exercise at 50 to 60 percent of your MHR. Set your rowing machine on the lowest resistance level and elevate your heart rate by increasing the speed of your exercise, rather than the difficulty of your work created by a high resistance setting. You will find that a more moderate pace of work at a lower resistance setting will gradually elevate your heart to your THR.

Fitness Exercises

To begin burning more calories, and more calories from fat, exercise at 60 to 70 percent of your MHR. You can keep your resistance settings low and pick up the pace of your exercise, or you can raise your resistance settings and maintain the pace of work you had in the heart-healthy zone. Approximately 85 percent of the calories you burn at this heart rate will be fat calories.

Aerobic Exercises

In the aerobic zone, you use more oxygen during your workout, burn more calories, with roughly 50 percent of those calories coming from burning fat. If muscle building is not a priority for you, use a lower resistance level to exercise at an intensity level that will allow you to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes without stopping. If you want to combine muscle building with your cardio workout, increase your resistance settings and work at a slightly slower pace. Your THR for aerobic exercise is 70 to 80 percent of your MHR.

Anaerobic Exercises

Anaerobic exercise is high-intensity activity performed at 80 to 90 percent of your MHR. Although this type of exercise burns more calories than aerobic exercise, it cannot be done for long, and must be done in start-and-stop workouts. Using a low resistance setting on your rowing machine to do pre-determined (by time or number of pulls) sprints will help you create an anaerobic workout. Sprint for 30 seconds at high intensity, then rest for 90 seconds to prepare for the next round.

Red Line Exercises

Red line training requires that you exercise at or near your MHR, and should only be done by elite athletes or in conjunction with your physician. The THR for this type of exercise is 90 to 100 percent of MHR.

About this Author

Sam Ellyn has been writing, editing, lecturing and producing videos on the sport sciences (exercise physiology, nutrition, biomechanics, physics, motor learning, pedagogy and sports medicine) for more than 20 years. He has written for numerous publications, including “Fit,” “Sports Illustrated for Kids’ Parent’s Playbook,” “Tennis” and “Golf Teaching Pro.”