Rowing is one of the few activities that provide both cardio and strength training benefits by engaging 85% of your muscles. Using a rower also allows you to increase your intensity without increasing the impact on your bones, joints, and muscles, which is especially helpful for injury prevention. In this article, we will guide you through the best rowing machine workouts to add a little variety to your morning routine.
12 Rowing Workouts That Torch Fat
Below we’ve isolated the 12 best rowing workouts for burning fat and building/toning your muscles. You can go through and do one per day to keep things fresh or mix it up however you like. With these workouts, you’ll never be bored again!
Let’s get to it…
#1 HIIT Row 1-On-One-Off
This workout is an excellent calorie burner and spikes your metabolism for the rest of the day, while at that same time, building your cardio to unstoppable levels. It may be challenging but you get an excellent workout in just a few minutes. Here’s how:
- Power through and row as hard as you can for one minute.
- Follow this with slow-paced, gentle rowing for one minute.
- Then repeat this ten times.
- Perform at least 5 to 10 sets for a full workout.
#2 2000-Meter Mixup
The 2,000-Meter Mix Up was made by Ebenezer Samuel and it’s quite a workout, to say the least.
It requires you to row for a minute, then get off and do “Hollow rocks” which are essentially lying flat on the ground with a 5 lb weight above your head, lifting your arms and legs in the air so your body is in a “U” shape, then rocking back and forth.
The hollow rocks are a challenge but do give you a breather between your rowing sets.
- Set the rower for 2,000 meters and start rowing
- After every minute, get off the rower and do a weighted hollow rock ladder.
- Start off by doing 5 hollow rocks, then add another one for every minute you get off the rower.
- Aim to finish the workout in less than 20 minutes.
#3 4 x 4 Workout
The best rowing machine workouts are the ones that get results. And the 4 x 4 gets results. This is a great workout for anyone who’s a beginner to intermediate level. It’s a moderate pace for four minutes followed by 2 minutes of rest. You increase your intensity with each 4-minute interval.
To perform the 4×4 workout, follow these steps:
- Warm-up for 5-10 minutes.
- Set your monitor to work in intervals of 4 minutes for work time and 2 minutes of rest time.
- Row for the first 4 minutes at a moderate pace.
- Increase your effort every 4 minutes, so that you exhaust your energy by the 4th piece.
- Cool down for 5 minutes when you finish the workout.
Here’s a variation of the 4 x 4 with a one minute rest instead of two:
#4 The Row and Burpee Combo
Rowing exercises combined with burpees will challenge both your mind and body. The combination of rowing and burpees will push your cardio to its max so this workout is better for intermediate to advanced athletes.
- Start by rowing until you hit 10 calories burned.
- As soon as you do, jump off the rower and do a burpee — for the first minute, perform 1 burpee.
- Rest until the start of the second minute.
- Add another burpee for every minute. On minute 2, do 2burpees. Minute 3, 3 burpees, and so on.
- The workout is over when you either can’t keep going or you can’t get the row and burpee reps done in less than a minute.
#5 1,000 Meter Row
The goal of the 1,000 meter row is to measure your total-body stamina and cardiovascular fitness. It really doesn’t get much easier than this either. Basically, you row for 1,000 meters as fast as you can while maintaining great form.
- Set your monitor to count down from the 1,000m mark down to zero.
- Put the resistance to a challenging level.
- Start rowing as quickly as you can until you’ve rowed for 1,000 meters.
- Note your time and try to improve on the next round.
#6 Bobby Maximus’ Row to Hell
Bobby Maximus created this two-person workout so you can push yourself with a partner but also get a break in between your sessions. Here’s how it works:
- Start by rowing 500 meters while your friend waits.
- When you’re done, switch places with your partner so that they can row 500 meters.
- Alternate again, this time doing 400 meters each.
- Continue switching on and off, decreasing by 100 meters per round until the last round is at 100 meters.
#7 500m AMRAP
If you’re looking to workout with a friend, the 500m AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) is a great way to fire up your metabolism. To get started, select 2-3 exercises to alternate with rowing, such as sit-ups, curls, and air squats. Once you know the exercise you’re going to do, here’s how to complete the 500m As Many Reps As Possible:
- Have person 1 row for 500 meters while person 2 does curls, air squats, and sit-ups. You can choose a rep range for each exercise and then do rounds while the other person rows. For example, 10 curls, 10 air squats, and 20 situps.
- Repeat this series until person 1 finishes the 500m.
- Switch places and repeat the steps above until you reach a total of 20 minutes.
Here’s a variation of this workout where they’re all doing the workout at the same time:
#8 Lean Leapfrog
The Lean Leapfrog workout is already programmed into the Concept2 rower. It’s a basic interval training workout that’ll ignite your calorie-burning for the rest of the day – and it’s a quick workout.
- Warm-up by rowing slowly for 10 minutes.
- Sprint for 1 minute, aggressively rowing for the duration.
- After sprinting, rest for 1 minute.
- Repeat this series five times, while trying to beat the meters rowed for each sprint.
- Take a 2-minute rest during recovery.
- Repeat for three rounds to complete the workout.
#9 Pyramid Rowing Workout
This rowing pyramid workout combines strength — in the form of bodyweight exercises — with cardio. The pyramid structure workout is pretty common and proven to get results. Here’s how you adapt it to rowing & calisthenics:
- Start by rowing 600m at an aggressive pace.
- Then, complete a bodyweight circuit which is composed of 10 twisted push-ups, 20 air squat to squat jumps, 10 twisted push-ups, and 20 alternating squat to side kick.
- Row 500m followed by the bodyweight circuit.
- Reduce the rowing distance by 100m every round until you’ve finished the 6 rounds.
- Cool down for 5 minutes after the workout.
#10 30/30 Workout
With the 30/30 Workout, you burn around 300 calories in just 20 minutes. It’s a high-intensity TABATA style workout where you go all out for a period, then cool down, and repeat. This style of rowing is one of the most effective for fat loss. Here’s the step-by-step breakdown:
- Warm-up for 10 minutes.
- Start by performing a 30-second sprint using maximum effort, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Repeat this series for 5 rounds
- Now do a set of air squats or push-ups for 2 minutes.
- Start over.
- Do this in three rounds to complete the workout.
#11 Rowing + Tabata Supersets Workout
For this workout, you alternate between 500m rowing and a high-intensity superset. With each round, you want to beat your previous time – which is hard to do. With the superset, pick two complementary exercises and use those as your Tabata exercises. For example, row 500 meters then alternate between box jumps and push-ups. For the Tabata exercises, do 8 rounds where you’re working full speed for 20 seconds and then resting for 10.
- Start by performing a 500m row sprint, then do the first superset.
- Go back to your rower for another 500m sprint and perform the 2nd superset.
- Finally, row another 500m and do the last superset.
- Cool down for 5 minutes to complete the workout.
#12 Rowing + Slider Circuit
This last workout is essentially three mini circuits combined into one. It also gets easier as you go along, which is a breath of fresh air if you’ve tried some of the others on this list. The goal is to stay within a few seconds of the time you hit during your first circuit.
- Circuit 1: Perform a 300m row sprint then do 60 seconds of slide push-ups. A slide push-up is where your feet are on sliders. You do a push-up, then slide your knees in towards your chest. Then return to the push-up position.
- Complete three rounds of one circuit before moving onto the next.
- Circuit 2: Perform a 200m row sprint then move into a plank to pike. This is where you do a plank with your feet on the sliders. From plank pose, slide your feet up so you’re in a pike which is basically an upside-down “V”, then slide back down into the plank. Repeat this for 60 seconds.
- Complete three rounds before moving onto the next.
- Circuit 3: Perform a 100m row sprint then move into 60 seconds of mountain climbers and push-ups. For the mountain climber push-ups, do 6 sliding mountain climbers on each side then do a push-up. Repeat this for 60 seconds.
- Remember to rest as needed between the circuits.
These are some of the best rowing machine workouts around. But after you try them, you’ll notice a pattern that emerges. Essentially they’re all interval training with a variety of exercises in between. So, working from that foundation, you can easily create your own rowing workouts. Simply change the length of the interval/rest periods and mix up the exercises you do in between.