Are you doing sit-ups, crunches, and all these so-described highly effective abdominal exercises so hard, trying to shred your belly fat and sculpt your waist? Only to find that the beer belly just does not want to say goodbye!

The truth is these targeted ab exercises will only strengthen your abdominal muscles. However, your abs will not be visible if they are covered by a thick layer of belly fat. You need to lose your whole-body fat including the abdominal fat to have healthy abdomens.

Rowing Machine workouts and benefits will help you slim down and shed pounds from every part of your body including your midsection. But removing your misconceptions and knowing the physiology of belly fat and abs in advance will absolutely help you avoid detours to your desired result.


Table of Contents

1. Knowing the Science Behind to Avoid Detours in Losing Belly Fat

1.1 Identify Your Belly Fat

1.2 Why Do You Gain Belly Fat?

1.3 Why You Need to Lose Belly Fat?

1.4 Why It’s So HARD to Lose the Stubborn Belly Fat?

1.5 How Long Does It Take to Lose Belly Fat?

2. Can You Lose Belly Fat by Rowing?

2.1 Rowing Can’t Spot Reduce Your Belly, No Exercise Can

2.2 Rowing Can Shed Your Body Fat and Benefit You in a Holistic Way

3. How to Lose Belly Fat on a Rowing Machine?

3.1 How to Row with a Big Belly?

3.2 How to Maximise Your Belly Fat Loss

4. Tips to Lose Belly Fat Faster with a Rowing Machine

4.1 Mobilize Your Belly before Your Rowing Session

4.2 Engage Your Core in Each Stroke

4.3 Scientific Tips from Trusted Resources

5. The Bottom Line


1. Knowing the Science Behind to Avoid Detours in Losing Belly Fat

Losing belly fat is one of the most common weight loss goals for most of us. I’m here to tell you the truth, and avoid detours in your journey to lose belly fat.

If you’ve just started your weight loss journey, and have no idea where to start. You may read another blog on weight loss to have a more comprehensive understanding of weight loss or fat loss.

1.1 Identify Your Belly Fat

There are actually two types of fat that may accumulate around your belly, namely, subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.

a sketch map of abdominal structure

· Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous fat is the outer layer of your belly. It makes rolls when you sit down or bend over. You can pinch it with your hand or measure it with body fat/skinfold calipers.

· Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is the inner layer of your belly. It’s often referred to as “deep fat”. Visceral fat pads the space between your internal organs. You can not pinch it but it can be seen and measured.

1.2 Why Do You Gain Belly Fat?

Let’s take things back a step. How do you gain belly fat? Common causes of excess belly fat include poor diet, too much alcohol, lack of exercise, stress, genetics, and poor sleep.

1.3 Why You Need to Lose Belly Fat?

· Aesthetic Concern

A healthy-looking body seems to be a goal many of us aspire to achieve. There is no doubt that belly fat loss will knock the door to your desired body shape.

Sit-ups, crunches, etc. will only exercise the abdominal muscle under the subcutaneous fat. Even though you exercise so hard for so many hours to build strong abs, you won’t see it.

Because only low body fat can make your abdomen as healthy-looking as possible. As you can see from the diagram above, if you have too much subcutaneous fat covering your abdominal muscle layer, your abs just won’t appear.

· Health Concern

Having too much of either type of fat poses a health risk.

Subcutaneous fat is not necessarily hazardous to your health. The fat that is harmful is the visceral abdominal fat around your organs. Because visceral fat tends to be more active in producing harmful hormones, while subcutaneous fat is not so active.

According to Harvard Health, belly fat especially visceral fat is implicated in a number of chronic conditions, including but not limited to: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabete, domentia, asthma, colorectal cancer, and, in women, breast cancer and gallbladder surgery.

1.4 Why It’s So HARD to Lose the Stubborn Belly Fat?

See changes on your legs, face, and arms. However, when looking at the belly, it seems the first area to get fat, or the last area to become lean, is the stubborn belly region!

You’ve worked so hard and intensely, why it’s so much harder to lose weight from the midsection area?

Let’s take a physiological catch on the question and find the scientific answer. In this way, we could be more prepared and efficient on the journey and take actions based on science.

· Your Midsection has More Fat Cells Resistant to Mobilization

Compared with other areas of your body, the abdominal area has a higher amount of certain type of fat cells that are very resistant to mobilization and a lot more difficult to burn off.

As per Dr. Luke James from Bupa UK, we all carry two fat cells in our body: alpha and beta. These cells react differently to break down your fats. Alpha cells respond better and accelerate the process, whereas beta cells don’t respond as favorably and make it harder to lose the fat.

a diagram of proportion of alpha fat cells and beta fat cells in face, arms, chest , and belly width=

Because different areas of the body have different amounts of each of these cells – with some parts having a higher amount of alpha cells than beta, and vice versa – the areas with more beta fat cells will inevitably be more difficult to shed excess fat.

To put it simply: it’s more difficult to lose your belly fat because it has a higher amount of fat cells that don’t respond as easily to the fat-breakdown process (lipolysis).

· Blood Flow to Belly Fat will Affect Your Progress

The subcutaneous fat covering your abdominal area receives significantly less blood flow than other parts of your body do. This makes things more difficult. Because less blood flow the part of your body receives, the more difficult it becomes to mobilize and burn off the fat from that area.

a diagram describing the relationship between  blood flow to belly fat and belly fat loss progress

I believe you now have a certain understanding of the science behind belly fat and abs. Let’s move forward and see what a rowing machine can do for you in your journey to lose belly fat and get your abs to show.

1.5 How Long Does It Take to Lose Your Belly Fat?

Dr. James encourages you to be patient, adding that it takes at least 12 weeks to notice a change to your belly fat. Why? As we’ve already explained, the fat there is so much harder to break down.

Still eager to know how long does it take to lose your belly fat and get the desired result?The diagram below will give you a rough idea.

a diagram describing changes of belly fat percentage with time

Identify your body fat percentage and your belly fat status. The diagram shows a reference period for you to reduce your body fat percentage to 8-10% based on your current status. Although the actual period needed to attain the desired level of body fat varies from individual to individual, you should start to notice a change after three months.

Although the belly fat is hard to lose, the good news is with regular, intense exercise, an increased intake of protein, and less sugar in your diet, you will absolutely lose both excess subcutaneous fat and visceral fat in a healthy way.

Burn subcutaneous fat Burn visceral fat
Diet YES NO
Diet + Exercise YES YES

From this table it becomes easier to understand why a diet associated with exercise is much better than a diet alone.

Stay patient with your belly fat loss journey. It is not accumulated overnight and losing that stubborn fat should take some time. Since you’ve already understood the science behind it, a flat belly is not far away!

2. Can You Lose Belly Fat by Rowing?

Yes and No.

YES!! Rowing can shed your total body fat including stubborn belly fat, and benefit you in a holistic way.

NO! Rowing can’t spot reduce your belly fat, no exercise is capable of doing that.

Let’s dig deeper and see what the rowing machine can do for you, and how it will help you lose belly fat and uncover that fascinating abs.

2.1 Rowing Can’t Spot Reduce Your Belly Fat, No Exercise Can

Spot Reduction is a Myth.

Contrary to what the infomercials suggest, there is no such thing as “spot reduction”. The term “spot reduction” refers to the misconception that you can lose fat in one spot by exercising that part of your body.

It’s true that spot-training exercises will make you “feel the burn” while muscles grow and strengthen. However, studies show they won’t help you get rid of belly fat. This is not only true for the abdominal area. Other studies have shown similar results to other areas of the body.

Fat is lost throughout the body in a pattern dependent upon genetics, sex (hormones), and age. Overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in any particular area.

2.2 Rowing Can Shed Your Overall Body Fat

Rowing can lower your overall body fat percentage which also reduces belly fat.

Compared with other forms of exercise machines, using the rowing machine is an efficient way to blast calories and slim you down everywhere — including your belly.

Besides, it is low-impact and offers you a full-body workout as well as build strong and defined muscles, including your abs.

a comparative table of benefits of rowing machine and other workouts

The rowing machine is great for belly fat loss and body conditioning.

On the one hand, the rowing machine is an aerobic workout that uses all of the major muscle groups. Shedding excess fat is a huge part of getting your abs to show. The less fat you have, the more your abdominal muscles can be seen making them appear more toned.

a man wearing black clothes gets ten muscles engaged in indoor rowing

On the other hand, the rowing machine workout is a kind of resistance training that will help to strengthen your muscles. When this is combined with shedding fat, it makes your abs appear more defined.

Belly fat is the most difficult to get rid of for many of us. However, it’s not an impossible mission. It’s possible to lose belly fat by exercising on a rowing machine. However, you’ll still have to keep your diet in check to make this possible.

If you enjoy rowing or consider adding a cardio machine to your comprehensive fat loss program, give the rowing machine a go will definitely surprise you. People shared their experience on how they rowed their way to happiness. Hope it might inspire you and increase your motivation.

3. How to Lose Belly Fat on a Rowing Machine?

It’s a question that many people ask. Rowing can undoubtedly help you burn calories, how to lose fat on your midsection area on a rowing machine?

It totally depends on the intensity, frequency, and duration of your rowing workouts.

Here’s a deeper look at how to exercise on a rowing machine if you have a big belly and how best you can benefit from it if you’re serious about rowing for belly fat loss.

3.1 How to Row with a Big Belly?

YES!! The rowing machine is great. Then a new question might pop into your head – “how can I row with a big belly?” We’ve got you covered.

Firstly, master the basics of rowing technique will get you onboard.

correct indoor rowing postures in the catch, drive, finish and recovery phases

Aside from that, check the tips on how to row with a big belly from one of the most trusted and popular coaches – Training Tall. It will help you to row more safely and comfortably on a rowing machine.

3.2 How to Maximize Your Belly Fat Loss?

In order to maximize your fat loss from using a rowing machine, there are several approaches you could apply in combination.

· Heart Rate Training

In order to carry your fat loss goal right over to the road, you should be using a Heart Rate Monitor. The exercise intensity measured by speed and power is not accurate, because your health status and your current level of fitness will vary by individuals.

Heart rate training uses your heart rate or beats per minute (bpm) as a guide to hit a certain rowing intensity. You use a heart-rate monitor to train at a specific effort level for a set amount of time.

a finger points at the heart rate monitoring interface of a iwatch and a man wearing blue clothes looks at chest strap heart rate monitor

It is a different way to be successful at rowing. Training in the right heart rate zone is a smarter way for you to achieve your fitness goal. It doesn’t have to be rowing as hard as you possibly can to burn more fat.

Learn more here about heart rate training. Nail it and row smarter to lose your stubborn fat effectively.

4. Tips to Lose Belly Fat Faster with a Rowing Machine

There are a couple of things that you can do to burn belly fat faster with a rowing machine.

4.1 Mobilize Your Belly before Your Rowing Session

Although spot reduce your belly fat is still a myth, a 2017 paper has suggested that you can even potentially “spot reduce” fat from your belly.

Applying this when you’re losing your belly fat with a plan incorporating rowing workout. Perform an ab workout to first increase the blood flow and fat mobilization from your midsection and then follow that up with 30 minutes or so of low-intensity cardio to selectively burn off the fat that’s been mobilized.

4.2 Engage Your Core in Each Stroke

Make sure you’re applying the correct technique on a rowing machine. Always engage your core on the way back and forward, so that you’re really activating and working on your midsection area.

“A good, powerful row stroke is similar to a kettlebell swing or a deadlift because you have to engage your core so the power from your legs transfers to the handle.”
— Eric Von Frohlich, CrossFit Level 1 certified trainer and founder of EVF Performance and Row House NYC

4.3 Scientific Tips from Trusted Resources

Take these trusted tips given by HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, you will find your success faster in losing the stubborn belly fat.

· Stay active and exercise regularly.

Exercise can help reduce your waist circumference. Even if you don’t lose weight, you lose visceral fat and gain muscle mass.

· Eat right.

90% of the belly comes off in the kitchen. And you might also have heard the most popular phrase in fitness, that is “Abs are Made in the Kitchen“.

The most effective action to lose belly fat and get visible abs to clean up your diet. Exercise can only get you so far. You need to eat smart to lower your body fat percentage and uncover your abs.

According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans produced by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, smart eating means focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount to meet nutrient needs at an appropriate calorie level, maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases.

Specifically speaking, it is better for you to increase vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, and seafood in nutrient-dense forms within calorie limit. Low-fat or fat-free dairy intake should also be increased to boost health. You can also drink some beverages that are calorie-free or that contribute beneficial nutrient according to your dietary preference.

In order to lower your body fat percentage, it is better for you to limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns. Using the Nutrition Facts label to compare certain ingredients content of foods helps.

· Focus on your sleep.

Wanna lose your stubborn belly fat faster? In your dreams!

A good night’s sleep is essential in getting rid of that extra fat around your waist for good.

A study on 60,000 participants by the Nurses’ Health found that those who slept fewer than five hours a night were at the greatest risk of becoming obese and gaining 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period when compared to those who slept for seven or more hours.

Too little is bad, but too much isn’t good, either. A five-year study found that young adults who slept more than eight hours also added visceral fat.

· Don’t smoke.

The more you smoke, the more likely you are to store fat in your abdomen rather than on your hips and thighs.

· Mind your mood.

In the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, middle-aged women who showed more hostility and had more depressive symptoms also had more visceral fat — but not more subcutaneous fat. In other studies, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol were associated with a buildup of visceral fat even in lean women.

· Forget the quick fix.

Liposuction for cosmetic fat removal doesn’t reach inside the abdominal wall.

The Bottom Line

To bottom line it, consistency is the key. Keep yourself motivated by taking frequent progress photos. No matter what shape you are, exercise regularly and dial in your diet, you will find as your body fat (belly fat) reduces, your abs will begin to appear!

Btw, are you lying down in bed and thinking you would do this later?

Don’t just exercise your mind! Exercise your body and turn that stubborn fat into fit!