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The Best Beginner Rowing Workouts

Published on:

Last Updated on:

November 29, 2022
a beginner during its rowing workout

Are you ready to dive into the world of rowing? Beginner rowing workouts can help you build muscle, improve cardiovascular strength, and shed calories.

Regardless of your goals, these beginner workouts are straightforward, easy to follow, and convenient. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why Should You Try Beginner Rowing Programs?

Whether you just purchased a new indoor rower or you’ve been eyeing a machine at your local gym, there are several reasons you should try beginner rowing programs. Indoor rowers offer numerous benefits that are hard to find in other cardio machines and workout programs. Here are a few to keep in mind.

High-Intensity, Low-Impact Exercise

Indoor rowing machines are renowned for providing a high-intensity, low-impact exercise that nearly anyone can complete. 

Other cardio exercises like running on a treadmill or box jumps can be hard on the body. The extra wear and tear come from repeatedly taking your feet off the ground and gravity.

But with rowing, you’re pulling horizontally and placing less stress on your joints. You can maintain the same intensity as sprinting without any extra impact. With the correct rowing technique, you can also have a safer workout session. 

These benefits can make rowing ideal for individuals recovering from an injury, new to working out or working to improve flexibility. 

Full Body Exercise

One of the best advantages of rowing is that it works out all the major muscle groups. The rowing stroke uses the legs, back, core, and upper body. Using your entire body also strengthens your lungs and heart. 

As a full-body workout, rowing can be ideal for those who don’t have much time for the gym or individuals looking for the most bang for their buck. 

Our Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

Customizable For Any Goal

Rowing is an incredibly versatile exercise and can meet nearly any fitness goal. Looking to lose weight? You can use indoor machines to increase cardiovascular strength and shed calories.

Or maybe you want to incorporate resistance training and build muscle? Rowing activates major muscle groups and improves endurance. Alternatively, the rowing stroke can be fantastic for improving stability and recovering after injury.

Regardless of your goals, you can use a beginner-friendly program to meet you exactly where you’re at in your fitness journey. 

Beginner-Friendly Rowing Workouts

So now that you know a few of the benefits of rowing, you’re probably ready to dive head first into some beginner-friendly programs, right? Once you have the rowing stroke down, you can use these beginner rowing workouts to hit all your fitness goals.

5-Minute Rowing Workout

This 5 Minute Rowing Plan is ideal for beginners looking to perfect their technique and increase intensity over time. The total time of this workout is around 15 minutes, and it has a stroke rate between 20-22. Make sure you stretch before jumping in:

  • Complete 5 minutes of warm-ups and basic rowing drills at a stroke rate of 18-20.
  • Take a quick rest period between 30 and 90 seconds before moving on to the workout.
  • Row for 5 minutes between 20-22 strokes per minute. Focus on your technique and keep the power manageable.
  • Lastly, cool off with some simple rowing strokes and light stretches.

10-Minute Rowing Workout

This 10 Minute Rowing Session builds on the previous sessions and will help you increase your endurance. The total time of this workout is around 20 minutes, and it has a stroke rate between 20-22. Be sure to stretch before starting the warm-ups:

  • Complete a 5-minute warm-up and basic rowing drills at a stroke rate of 18-20.
  • Take a light break between 30 and 90 seconds before moving on to the workout.
  • Row for 10 minutes at roughly 22 strokes per minute. Focus on your form and never exceed 22 strokes per minute. Keep a comfortable effort level.
  • Finally, take 5 minutes to warm down with simple rowing strokes and light stretches.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to overdo it with this workout. Ten-minute sessions are endurance programs for beginners, and the intensity should be manageable.

Pyramid Workouts

Pyramid workouts slowly increase the intensity, resistance, or weight over the course of a workout. They can be useful for fitness progression, overcoming plateaus, and adding variety to your sessions. Here are a few rowing programs you can incorporate to hit your goals. 

7-Minute Pyramid Session

This 7 Minute Beginner-Friendly Pyramid Workout can help you challenge yourself and learn rate changes. The program consists of a 3-1-3 minute rate interval and maintains a 20-22 stroke rate.

  • Spend roughly 5 minutes completing basic rowing strokes and warm-up drills.
  • Take a quick rest of between 30 and 90 seconds before moving on to the main session.
  • Row for 3 minutes at 22 strokes per minute and maintain a consistent power output.
  • Afterward, drop your intensity to 20 strokes per minute for 1 minute. Maintain a comfortable effort level.
  • For the last phase, raise your stroke rate to 22 and row for 3 minutes.
  • Finish the workout with 5 minutes of simple rowing strokes and light stretches.

14-Minute Pyramid Rowing Session

This 14 Minute Pyramid Rowing Session will increase your anaerobic strength and help you spend more time on the machine. The total workout takes around 35 minutes and maintains a stroke rate between 20-26. Be sure to stretch before starting the warm-ups:

  • Complete 10 minutes of warm-ups and basic rowing strokes between 18-20 strokes per minute.
  • Take a light break between 60 and 180 seconds before moving on to the main workout.
  • Row for 5 minutes at 22 strokes per minute, focusing on the rowing motion and technique.
  • Next, increase your intensity to a stroke rate of 26 for 4 minutes. Keep in mind this will be a harder effort.
  • Reduce your intensity to a stroke rate of 22 for the final 5 minutes.
  • Finally, finish the workout with 5 minutes of simple rowing strokes and light stretches.

High-Intensity Interval Workouts

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) uses rounds of intense movements to increase heart rate, followed by short intervals of lower intensity. These vigorous workouts can increase cardiovascular health and endurance. Although these will be a challenge for beginners, they can elevate your rowing sessions to the next level.

3 x 5 Minute Rowing Interval

The 3 x 5 Minute Rowing Interval Session will challenge you and improve your anaerobic strength. The workout consists of 5-minute sessions at 26 strokes per minute, followed by 2 minutes of rest. Be sure to take your time and stretch before jumping in:

  • Complete 15 minutes of warm-ups and rowing drills at around 18-20 strokes per minute. Work your way up to workout intensity.
  • Take a 1-3 minute rest-break before moving on to the main exercise.
  • Now, row for 5 minutes at 26 strokes per minute. You should feel the intensity and breath heavily during the 5-minute intervals. Maintain proper form.
  • Next, rest for 2 minutes and repeat the interval three times in total. Rest for 2 minutes between each 5-minute session.
  • Lastly, spend 10 minutes cooling down with simple rowing strokes and light warm-ups. Don’t forget to drink water during the exercise.

Keep in mind that you can adjust the rowing stroke rate and resistance level to suit your fitness goals. You don’t have to overdo the five-minute intervals either, and you should always focus on form.

2 x 8-Minute Indoor Rowing Workout

Beginner rowers can challenge themselves with a 2 x 8 Minute Interval Session. The total time for this workout is just over 30 minutes, and it maintains a stroke rate between 20-24. Because it’s a vigorous session, be sure to stretch ahead of time and focus on technique.

  • Complete 10 minutes of warm-ups and rowing drills. Don’t exceed a stroke rate of 20 during the warm-up.
  • Take a rest break between 60 and 120 seconds. Be sure to take a few sips of water before moving on to the rest of the program.
  • Now, row for 8 minutes at a stroke rate of 24. Focus on the rowing movement and technique.
  • Afterward, take a 2-minute rest interval and drink some water if you need it.
  • Complete the last 8-minute interval at a stroke rate of 24.
  • Lastly, warm down with 5 minutes of simple rowing strokes and stretching.

This will be a tough workout for beginner rowers, so don’t overdo it in the first 8-minute interval. Pace yourself and monitor your form for the best results.

Power Rowing Sessions

Power rowing sessions are challenging workouts designed to improve aerobic capacity and endurance. These workouts can be excellent for challenging yourself and breaking through to your next fitness level.

15-Minute Power Rowing Exercise

The 15 Minute Rowing Workout will work your aerobic capacity, endurance, and strength. The working stroke rate is between 24-28 and will push beginner rowers. Be sure to stretch before diving into the workout: 

  • Complete 15 minutes of warm-ups and rowing drills at around 20-22 strokes per minute.
  • Take a rest break between one and three minutes before moving on to the main exercise.
  • Row for 15 minutes at a stroke rate between 24-28. You’ll want to keep your rate at 24 for the majority of the session. 
  • At the beginning of every minute, complete ten rowing strokes at 28 before dropping down to 24. 
  • End the session with 10 minutes of warm-downs, simple rowing strokes, and light stretching.

20-Minute Endurance Workout

If you want to improve your endurance, try this 20 Minute Endurance Session. This program follows 5-10-5 intervals with rate and power changes to improve your cardiovascular strength. This session will challenge beginners, so be sure to stretch and have plenty of water ready. 

  • Complete 10 minutes of warm-ups and rowing drills at around 18-20 strokes per minute. Work your way up to workout intensity.
  • Take a rest break between 60 and 120 seconds. Be sure to take a few sips of water before moving on to the rest of the program.
  • Now, row for 5 minutes at a stroke rate of 22. Focus on the rowing movement and technique. 
  • Move on to the next 10-minute interval with a stroke rate of 24.
  • For the last interval, drop your intensity back to 22 and row for 5 minutes.
  • Finish the exercise with 5-10 minutes of warm-downs, simple rowing strokes, and light stretching.

How Long Should a Beginner Row For?

Beginner rowers can benefit from any amount of time on the rowing machine as long as they focus on form. Following a 5 minute or 10 minute program can give you enough to practice the rowing technique while getting a good burn.

Is 15 Minutes of Rowing Enough?

15-20 minutes of rowing is perfect for beginners. These programs provide ample time to increase heart rate, improve endurance, and focus on form. Most workouts have 5-10 minutes of warm-ups and cool-downs, so you’ll get plenty of time on the machine.

Can I Get in Shape From Rowing?

Yes, rowing can help you get in shape! Rowing is a full-body workout and low-impact exercise that suits various fitness goals. Rowing can help you reach your goals, whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve cardiovascular endurance, or build muscles.

Our Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.
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