What are the Best Rowing Machine Workouts?

What are the Best Rowing Machine Workouts?

There’s no shortage of rowing workout options.  Time, distance, aerobic, anaerobic or hybrid workouts that include other exercises or equipment are all fantastic options to get a great workout.  This article is focused on some of the best rowing machine workouts. 

Best Rowing Machine Workouts with Time Limitation

Having a good arsenal of time-efficient rowing workouts can keep you on track for progress whenever the time is limited.  Time can be a significant factor when it comes to sticking with exercise.  

Fortunately, getting a good workout on a rower doesn't require a significant time investment.  The total body training effect of rowing works 85% of the muscles in the body.  Rowing combines cardio and strength training to build world-class fitness.  

Here are a few of the best rowing machine workouts to try when time is limited.  

High-Intensity Rower Interval Exercises

There's an infinite number of ways to use the rower for high-intensity interval training.  Interval training is an excellent way to build anaerobic capacities, which will help you grow faster.  Time and distance are popular ways to organize an interval training workout on a rowing machine.  The performance monitor keeps track of the time and distance to ensure you’re doing the work correctly.  

Here are a few workouts to try:

250m repeats

o   Warm-up with a 5-minute moderate-intensity row

o   Row 250m as fast as possible

o   Rest for 60-75 seconds

o   Repeat for 12-15 rounds

o   Cool down with a 5-minute row

Tabata Intervals

o   Warm-up with a 5-minute moderate-intensity row

o   Row at maximum output for 20 seconds

o   Rest for 10 seconds

o   Repeat this sequence for 8 rounds (4 minutes total)

o   Cool down with a 5-minute row

:30/:30 Intervals

o   Warm-up for 5-minutes at a moderate intensity 

o   Row at near maximum intensity for 30 seconds

o   Rest for 30 seconds by rowing at a slow stroke rate

o   Repeat for 10+ rounds

o   Cool down for 5 minutes at a moderate intensity

Most Recommendable Aerobic Interval Workout

Regularly engaging in aerobic exercise carries a variety of benefits improve cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar, reduces chronic pain, aids sleep, controls weight, strengthens the immune system, and improves brainpower.  

The rowing machine is a fantastic piece of equipment for aerobic training.  
Most Recommendable Aerobic Interval Workout

How to do it:

o   Warm-up by rowing for 5-10 minutes at a moderate intensity

o   Row 4 intervals of 4 minutes at an RPE of 5-6 (short of vigorous-intensity)

o   Rest for 2 minutes after each interval

o   Increase the intensity from round to round

o   Cool-down for 4-5 minutes 

Best Indoor Rower Workout that Requires Team Work

Partner workouts are an excellent way to push the intensity with exercise and maintain accountability with your effort.  The rower can be paired with other exercises (non-growing movements) to create an impactful training effect.

How to do it:

o   Select 2-3 bodyweight exercises to pair with rowing

  • Push-Ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups
  • Burpees
  • Crawling
  • Hollow Body Rocks

o   While person A rows 500m, person B performs the following:

o   10 push-ups

o   5 Reverse Lunges (right/left)

o   10-yard crawl

o   Person B will repeat the exercises until Person A finishes rowing 500m

o   Switch places and continue this workout for 20-30 minutes.

o   Cool down with a 5-minute row and stretch.

The Power 10 Recovery Workout

Recovery is an essential part of building fitness.  High-intensity efforts will build your engine, but recovering from that exercise stress will keep you rowing and making gains for the long term. 

A "power ten" involves ten hard strokes of power.  For this workout, we will adapt the power ten workout to keep you moving while integrating recovery tactics in the same session.

The focus of this hybrid variation of a power ten is rowing with good technique.  

How to do it:

o   Row 10 strokes using a moderate power level

o   Get off the rower and stretch for a minute or two

o   Hop back on the rower and perform the next ten strokes, this time at a slightly higher intensity.

o   Get off the rower and stretch for a minute or two.

o   Alternate between ten strokes and stretching for a total of 20-25 minutes

o   Cool down with 5 minutes of moderate-intensity steady-state rowing.

4 Steps of a Rowing Stroke

Four different phases make up each rowing stroke, and each segment works a wide range of muscles.  


The catch is when you're closest to the machine, setting up for a powerful pull.  Shins should be vertical, hamstrings pressed up to the calves, torso against the quads, head tall, eyes looking forward.  Grip the handle using the flexor muscles of the fingers and thumb.  Abdominals are braced and ready to transfer the force produced by the lower body into the handle.  


The posterior chain includes the hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, and calves, the primary muscles used during the drive phase of a rowing stroke.  During the drive, you're actively putting force into the platform of the rowing machine, the torso tilted forward slightly.  As the legs drive into the machine, unwind the hips and begin moving from a forward tilted position to a backward position.  You’re now entering the next phase of the rowing stroke, the finish.  

This motion should be smooth and continuous. 


During the finish, the legs extend at the knees, the torso hinges back at the hips, the lean continues to tilt backward while the hands pull the handle toward the chest.  

The spinal erectors and abdominal muscles activate during the finishing phase of the rowing stroke.  Both groups of muscles support and stabilize the spine, allowing for a controlled and powerful stroke.  


The recovery phase is essentially the drive phase in reverse.  The recovery phase starts with the arms leading, followed by the body and the legs as you move back toward the machine.  It's essential to allow the arms to initiate this motion. 

The rowing machine is a perfect piece of equipment to add to any home gym space. GorowinGo’s rower is aesthetically pleasing, quiet and provides a workout that people have come to love about rowing.  

Learn more about the benefits of rowing at GoRowingGo

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published