5 Rowing Machine Workouts For Beginners You Need To Try

If you know you want to build muscle and burn fat, but don't know where to start, you need to check out the five best rowing machine workouts for beginners. Rowing is great for your heart, lungs, waistline, and muscles. It is truly the best form of exercise you can get.

The confusing-looking contraption gathering dust in the corner of your gym can look intimidating. But it is a true treasure. Fortunately, there are great rowing machine workouts for beginners to get you acclimated to rowing and improve your fitness and health quickly. Keep reading to learn the five best rowing machine workouts for beginners to burn fat and build muscle.

What Is A Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine, also known as an ergometer, or erg, for short, is a full-body exercise machine. When used correctly, it will burn fat and build muscle at the same time. It can increase your V02 max, increase your endurance, increase your speed, and make you happier and healthier. Used by Olympic rowers, CrossFit weekend warriors, and stay-at-home-parents alike, nothing gives you a workout quite like this unique machine.

Rowing Machine Basics

The rowing "stroke" on an indoor rower can be accomplished in four simple steps. Start at "the catch." This is where your shins are perpendicular to the floor, your back is straight, and your arms are extended just past your feet. If you suffer from tight calves, it is okay if your heels come up a little.

During the second phase, known as "the drive," you will drive your body back with your legs. This is your primary source of power. Keep your core tight. Once your legs are fully extended, lean back until approximately 45 degrees, or 1 o'clock. Then, use your lats to pull the handle to just beneath your solar plexus. The handle should remain flat, like you are pulling it across a table, the entire time.

When you are leaned backwards and your lats are tensed and holding the handlebar to your chest, you are at "the finish." The "recovery" is the opposite of "the drive". Push your hands forward, rotate your hips until your straight back is at 11 o'clock, then use your hamstrings to slowly pull yourself back to "the catch." It is important that your hands move forward before your legs, or else you will knock your shins with the handle. This destroys any rhythm and efficient momentum you may have created up to this point.

5 Rowing Machine Workouts For Beginners You Need to Try

The best rowing machine workouts for beginners include rowing with a partner, workouts for weight loss, workouts for endurance, and speed drills.

The Partner Row

As the name implies, the partner row requires a workout buddy. Start by warming up for 10 minutes then stretching. Once you are limber, row 500 meters. Quickly dismount from the erg and rest as your partner rows 500 meters. Then, immediately get on and row 400 meters. Rest while your partner rows 400 meters. Continue this pattern until you have rowed 300 meters, 200 meters, and 100 meters.

It is ideal to find a partner with a similar fitness level to you. This allows you to rest for approximately the same amount of time that you rowed. The recovery that your body gets allows each session to be powerful and explosive, torching calories and effectively building muscle.

The Calorie Count-Up

The calorie count-up is one of the best rowing machine workouts for beginners because it builds you up slowly but shreds fat effectively by the end of the workout. The best part is, the warmup is built into the workout so you use your time very effectively. Set your indoor rowing machine to count one-minute intervals.

During the first minute, row until you burn five calories. Then, rest until the next minute starts. Row until you burn six calories. Continue climbing up your calorie burning ladder until you have rowed for 15 minutes and burned 180 calories. This workout is highly motivating because anyone can do anything for 60 seconds or fewer.

Max Meter Workout

The max meter workout is one of the best rowing machine workouts for beginners because it is short but highly effective and customizable. Row as many meters as possible in four minutes. Maintain a consistent rhythm as much as you can. The 500 meter split time you should aim for is 2:30 or better, while you should aim to keep your stroke rate at 30 strokes per minute.

Timed Endurance Pyramid

Pyramids are at the top of the list regarding the best rowing machine workouts for beginners. This is because psychologically they are easy to get through. Warm up with one minute of light pressure at 28 strokes per minute. Then, row for two minutes at medium pressure at a consistent rate of 26 strokes per minute. Finally, row at strong pressure at a rate of 24 strokes per minute for three minutes. Then, complete the pyramid in the opposite direction. Your total workout, including the built-in warmup and cooldown will be nine minutes.

1600-Meter Pyramid

The 1,600-meter pyramid is another fantastic beginner workout for aspiring indoor rowers. Start with 100 meters at light pressure and moderate stroke rate. Then, complete 200 meters at a comfortable pace, pressure, and stroke rate. This completes the warmup portion of your pyramid. Push yourself to reach 27 strokes per minute with a 500-meter split of no more than 2:30 for 300 meters. The apex of your pyramid is 400 meters with strong pressure at the fastest pace you can maintain. Aim for a stroke rate of 28 strokes per minute.

Finally, complete your pyramid by rowing 300 meters at 27 strokes per minute. This is where it may get hard. Start your cooldown with completing 200 meters at a moderate pace. The hard part is now over and you are in the final stretch. Your workout ends with a 100-meter light pressure row with a stroke rate around 23 strokes per minute.

Advantages of Rowing Machine Workouts

There are many advantages to the best rowing machine workouts for beginners. These include providing a full-body workout, helping you lose weight, and drastically improving your aerobic fitness.

Full-Body Workout

Weight Loss

Effective Aerobic Exercise

Increase Your Endurance


The best rowing machine workouts for beginners simultaneously burn fat and build muscle. If your gym partner has a fitness level similar to yours, try a partner row where you rest for approximately as long as you row. Put forth maximum effort during each interval for a total of 1,500 meters. If you do not have a lot of time for a workout, row as many meters as you can in four minutes. If you have time to check your e-mail and browse Reddit, you have time to get in a great indoor rowing machine workout. If you are not feeling very motivated to workout, do a psychologically easy pyramid row.

There are many benefits rowing machine workouts for beginners. Among the most significant benefits are increasing your endurance, improving your speed, helping you lose weight while protecting your joints, and providing a full-body workout that strengthens your heart and lungs. Whatever workout motivates you, hop on the nearest erg, and happy rowing!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below