The Best Rowing Workouts For Beginners And Advanced

 Written by 

Jordyn Snyder

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Rowing machines have gained popularity in recent years due to their effectiveness in providing a full-body workout. Whether you’re a beginner looking to kickstart your fitness journey or an advanced athlete seeking to take your training to the next level, rowing workouts can offer a challenging and rewarding experience. In this article, we will explore some of the best rowing machine workouts for both beginners and advanced users looking to grow with their physical fitness.

How To Use A Rowing Machine Properly

Using a rowing machine may seem daunting at first, but with a little guidance, you’ll quickly become comfortable and confident in your technique. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use an indoor rower effectively along with the basics of rowing:

A man doing a rowing workout at the gym
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© Aliaksandr Makatserchyk

Adjusting The Settings

Start by adjusting the foot straps to ensure your feet are secure but not too tight. Set the resistance level based on your fitness level and goals. Beginners may want to start with a lower resistance setting and gradually increase it as they gain strength and confidence.

Starting Position

Position yourself on the rowing machine’s seat with your feet securely placed in the foot straps. Keep your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Grab the handle with an overhand grip, ensuring your hands are shoulder-width apart.

The Catch Position

This is the starting position of the rowing stroke. Extend your arms forward, keeping them straight but not locked. Lean slightly forward from your hips while maintaining a straight back. Your shins should be vertical, and your heels should be lifted slightly off the footrests.

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The Drive Phase

Initiate the rowing stroke by pushing off with your legs. Drive through your heels while extending your legs. As your legs straighten, lean back slightly, using your core muscles. Keep your arms extended during this phase.

The Finish Position

Once your legs are fully extended, pull the handle towards your lower ribs using your arms and upper back muscles. Your elbows should be bent, and the handle should be pulled towards your body, just below your chest. Keep your wrists straight and avoid bending them excessively.

The Recovery Phase

Reverse the movements you made during the Drive phase to return to the starting position. Extend your arms forward, allowing the handle to move away from your body. Lean forward from your hips, bending your knees to slide the seat back to the Catch position, and keep going until you get in the desired rhythm.

A man doing a rowing workout
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The Ultimate Beginner Rowing Workout

The Warm-up

Start your beginner workout session with a five-minute warm-up to prepare your body for the workout ahead. Begin with a slow and steady rowing motion, focusing on your body position and maintaining a comfortable pace.

Interval Training

Interval training is an excellent way for beginners to build endurance and increase their fitness levels gradually. With the proper rowing technique, alternate between intervals of rowing with short bursts of high-intensity rowing and active recovery periods. For example, row at a high intensity for 30 seconds, followed by one minute of slower rowing. Repeat this cycle for a total of 10-15 minutes.

Stroke Rate Pyramid

This workout helps beginners develop their rowing technique and stamina. Start rowing at a comfortable pace for a set time, such as five minutes. Then, gradually increase your stroke rate (the number of strokes per minute) every minute until you reach your maximum sustainable effort. Maintain that maximum effort for a minute before gradually decreasing your stroke rate back to your starting point.

Endurance Row

Aim for a longer, steady pace during your rowing interval sessions to build cardiovascular endurance. Row at a moderate pace for 20-30 minutes without stopping. Focus on maintaining a constant pace and breathing pattern throughout the workout. It’s also important to be forgiving, if you need an extra minute of rest or you’re experiencing pain during the entire workout, take a step back and read through the form tips and evaluate the types of workouts you’re doing in tangent and do what works for you.

A woman during her rowing workout at the gym
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The Advanced Rowing Machine Workout

Power Intervals

This awesome rowing workout for advanced rowers is designed to improve explosive power and speed throughout your entire body. Row at your maximum effort for 30 seconds, followed by a 30-second rest period. Repeat this cycle for 10-15 minutes. Push yourself to row at a higher intensity during each interval while maintaining good form to help burn body fat.

Tabata Intervals

Tabata training is a popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) method. Row at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this cycle for eight rounds, totaling four minutes. The short rest periods make this workout intense and efficient.

Pyramid Sprints

This competitive rowers workout combines endurance and high-intensity intervals. Start with a five-minute warm-up, then row at a moderate pace for two minutes. Increase the intensity to a sprint for one minute, then return to a moderate pace for two minutes. Continue this pattern, increasing the sprint duration by 30 seconds each time until you reach your maximum sprint effort. Descend back down the pyramid, decreasing the sprint duration by 30 seconds with each interval.

Race Simulation

This workout is ideal for those confident rowers that are training for rowing competitions or looking to challenge themselves. Row at your maximum sustainable effort for a specific distance, such as 2,000 meters or 5 kilometers. Time yourself and try to beat your personal best with each attempt.

When to Add the Rowing Machine to Your Workout

The timing of adding a rowing machine to your fitness routine depends on your current fitness level and the structure of your workout schedule. It will also depend on your goals which could include cardiovascular endurance, if you’re looking for full-body workouts, wanting to cross-train, needing a different attempt at weight loss efforts, looking for more calorie expenditure, and personal preference or enjoyment. Once you’ve decided to add rower workouts to your routine then you should be doing these types of workouts at least 2-3 times per week.

We will warn you and say that consulting with a fitness professional or trainer who can assess your specific needs, goals, and fitness level to provide personalized guidance on incorporating a rowing machine into your routine is a fantastic idea. They can help you develop a plan that suits your individual circumstances and ensures the safe and effective integration of rowing into your cardio fitness regimen.

A woman preparing her rower for an effective rowing workout
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Should a Beginner Use a Rowing Machine?

Yes, a rowing machine can be an excellent choice for beginners. It provides a low-impact, full-body workout that is suitable for individuals of all fitness levels

Most rowing machines have adjustable resistance levels, allowing beginners to start at a comfortable level and gradually increase the intensity as they become more fit and comfortable with the exercise. Many rowing machines also come equipped with performance monitors that display metrics such as distance, time, stroke rate, and calories burned. These features allow beginners to track their progress over time, set goals, monitor improvements in their fitness level, and on top of that are very versatile workouts.

The Rowing Machine Benefits

Using a rowing machine offers a wide range of benefits for your physical and mental well-being. Here are some key advantages of incorporating a rowing machine into your workout routine:

Full-Body Workout

Rowing engages multiple major muscle groups, including the legs, glutes, core, back, and arms. It provides a comprehensive full-body workout, helping to strengthen and tone various muscle groups simultaneously.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Rowing is an excellent form of cardiovascular training that gets your heart pumping and increases your lung capacity. It improves your aerobic fitness and helps lower your resting heart rate, leading to better overall cardiovascular health.

Low Impact

Unlike activities such as running or jumping, rowing is a low-impact exercise that puts minimal stress on your joints no matter the rower stroke. This makes it an ideal option for individuals with joint pain, arthritis, or those recovering from injuries.

Weight Loss and Calorie Burn

Rowing is an effective calorie-burning exercise. It can help you achieve weight loss goals by burning a significant number of calories in a relatively short amount of time. Rowing at a moderate intensity can burn around 400-600 calories per hour, depending on factors such as your weight and intensity level.

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine
4.5

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.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

Improved Strength and Endurance

Regular rowing sessions can lead to increased muscular strength and endurance. It builds strength in the legs, core, and upper body, and enhances muscular endurance, allowing you to perform daily activities with greater ease.

Posture and Postural Strength

Rowing promotes proper posture and helps strengthen the muscles responsible for maintaining good posture. The repetitive motion of rowing helps develop strong back muscles, which can counterbalance the effects of sedentary lifestyles and desk-bound jobs.

Suitable for All Fitness Levels

Rowing machines are suitable for individuals of all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced athletes. The resistance levels can be adjusted to accommodate different fitness levels and training goals, making it accessible and challenging for everyone.

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