How to Make the Most of Rowing Workouts

By Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

We are glad you made it here in your search for tips to make the most of the rowing machine workouts. We promise to make the read worth your time. Before then, how long have you been rowing?

If you are like most users reading this article who just bought a rowing machine, it might come off as intimidating or even overwhelming at times.

You’re thinking to yourself, after a session or two, you will be grabbed by the throat by the sheer pleasure, adventure, and joy as you start burning calories and getting fit. Right? Maybe. However, there’s a caveat.

One Common Mistake Newbies Make

Don’t make the mistake of acquiring a rowing machine and then jumping right into training sessions without getting enough oomph to make your workouts efficient. This is one major mistake most new users make.

Because you have a rowing machine doesn’t mean you can properly use it, and even if you could properly use it, it doesn’t mean you can make the most of it. From the outside, rowing looks simple. We hate to break it to you; it’s not always the case with everyone.

We understand that everyone who starts rowing wants to get a 101% out of every session. It’s tempting to just go through the motions, doing the same thing over and over again after some time.

This is not only boring but also counterproductive because your body needs new challenges. Your body is biologically designed to adapt to one thing over time.

We want to prevent your rowing adventure from falling into that vicious cycle where your efforts go unrewarded. So we have helped you gather 12 rowing drills to help you to get the most out of your workouts, both for beginners and seasoned users alike. Keep reading!

Types of Rowing Workout Drills

You may want to consider acquiring a fitness tracker to get the best of your workouts, whether you aim to lose unhealthy visceral fat or build big muscles. Below are the various types of workout drills you can incorporate in your training sessions for as short as 5 minutes or as long as an hour.

Workout 1: Rowing machine Sprint Workout

This is a high intensity interval training you can perform on your indoor rower. For instance, you expend a small amount of your energy rowing for, let’s say, 5 minutes. Then, you spend the next 45 to 50 seconds rowing hard. Finally, you spend the next 15-20 seconds slowing down to ease up the process.

Go all over this process for the next ten minutes, then give yourself a few minutes to rest and catch your breath. The rest stage shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes.

The whole process takes 20 minutes, more than half of which is spent rowing between hard and easy rowing. And, because it is a HIT workout, one noticeable feature is your increasing heartbeat.

Spin Bike vs Rowing Machine Guide

Workout 2: The machine distance workout.

Some models of the rowing machine display speed, distance, stroke rate, intensity, etc. You can set it to a 2000-meter pace metric, that is, how fast you’ll finish 2000 meters. This value is good enough a challenge to make you keep pace, sweat, and burn enough calories too.

You can challenge yourself with a higher meter pace metric. However, you should not be tempted to go too high as a higher value doesn’t translate to higher efficiency.

Workout 3: Rowing with a partner.

You’ll need a partner for this workout. It goes like this; in the first round, you start rowing 500 meters while your partner waits. So you’re done, it’s their turn, and you switch places. He or she rows for 500 meters too. This gives you a short time to rest and catch your breath.

In the second round, you row for 400 meters and switch places again. You keep alternating till you are down to 100 meters; the last round. Besides being super fun, you are also working your up quads, hamstrings, butt muscles, deltoid, back muscles, etc.

You could spice up the whole thing, too, by incorporating situps, pushups, or workouts with weight, whereby you progressively increase or decrease it. No better motivation than having a friend beside you who pushes you to your limit.

Rowing Machine Resistance Guide

Workout 4: Power tens.

“Power tens” is a term that gets thrown around easily in the rowing world. What is it?

It’s ten hard, powerful strokes in a minute. Let’s imagine you’re on the rowing machine and just started rowing. You start gently at a slower pace; after a while, you perform ten strokes with more intensity. Then ease down, and repeat the process with a higher intensity than the previous. Continue until you cannot go higher anymore.

Do this for at least 20 minutes in a stretch, then cool down to catch your breath. You can incorporate this method in your short or long workout sessions.

Workout 5: Aerobic Interval Workout

This is the best aerobic interval workout for the rowing machine. This workout involves rowing the first 4 minutes at an intense pace and resting for 2 minutes. Then, increase the pace till by the fourth piece when you would have emptied the tanks.

However, the first step is: with intervals of 4 minutes, set the performance monitor accordingly. The rest time should be at least 2 minutes, as stated earlier.

Workout 6: Pushups + Rowing

This involves doing pushups immediately after rowing and resting between rowing sessions. For example:

  • You row 1,000 meters and then do 20 hand-release pushups.
  • You row 750 meters again and drop to do 30 hand-release pushups.
  • Row again for 500 meters, and drop to do 40 hand-release pushups.
  • Do this continuously until you’re down to the lowest value.

Workout 7: Variety

Set the rowing machine, so it shows the number of calories burned. For the first step, set it at 25 calorie row. After rowing, drop and do 50 air squats. Do 20 calorie row, and accompany it with 40 Russian kettlebell swings.

Set the machine at 15 calorie row, then do 30 sit-ups. Continue in this manner until you’re down to 10 calorie row.
You may feel sore afterward, but you’ll incinerate fat in a short time as your cardio ability spikes.

Workout 8

Row 250 meters and rest for a minute to catch your breath. Row again with a moderate increase in intensity, and rest for a minute. Do this continuously for the next 20 minutes.

The rowing should not take more than a minute. At best, 45 seconds. And, do it for 10 rounds or more, but it shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes.

Workout 9

Do 4 or 5 rounds by rowing for 30 calories, and then complement it with 30 Russian kettlebell swings. Swings are fun to do, in this way you won’t get bored or feel tired quickly.

If you want to break a sweat, you can do 30 sit-ups after performing the 30 Russian kettlebell swings and rest for 1 minute.

See the best water rowing machines

Workout 10: Tabata rowing.

This is another high intensity interval training. We guarantee that you’ll break a sweat as this drill will beat your body into submission. What does it entail?

You will row very hard for 20 seconds at 26 strokes per minute, then ease the rowing for the next 10 seconds at 18 strokes per minute. After which, you switch to some bodyweight exercise. Do this for the next 7 or 8 rounds.

Workout 11

For the next 60 seconds, row as hard as possible, and then take a 30 seconds rest. Row for the next 60 seconds after your rest; repeat these for the next few minutes.

To make the best out of this, you need to take a mental note of your progress and the distance covered so you improve on it subsequently.

Check out the best magnetic rowing machines

Workout 12: Lean leapfrog rowing

Unlike most rowing forms on the list here, which are aerobic, this rowing variant is anaerobic and could be excruciating. Also, it takes a total of 40 to 45 minutes. How do you go about it?

You start with a 10 minutes warmup. Then you spend the next minute alternating between sprinting and resting (1 minute each). Then go on like this, increasing the time and intensity.

The thing is, you got to exert your muscles so much that it begins to have microscopic tears and produce lactate (the byproduct of anaerobic muscle metabolism).

A Final Note

You’re already halfway done if you have decided to make the most of rowing. The other half is choosing what drills to work with, good physical & mental wellbeing, and consistency. A healthier you is what this article is centered around, and we hope we’ve helped with the information shared.

We understand that rowing drills out there are so vast that incorporating them into your rowing sessions will leave you at crossroads on what to choose and what to leave out. However, we brought you the best drills that will get you ripped in a short time.