Amp Up Your Boring Workout With These 10 Great Rowing Machine Workouts

Rowing machines provide excellent exercise but can get boring. Want to get more from your rowing machine? Check out these 10 great rowing machine workouts.

rowing machine workouts

A rowing machine is often an overlooked piece of exercise equipment at the gym, but it provides a lot of health benefits from weight loss to stress reduction. Thus, if you have a rowing machine, you might be reaching a point of boredom, or maybe it’s stored under the bed and collecting dust.

Certainly, the way a person views a workout mentally can also impact how easy it is for them to adapt to and complete it.

Indeed, many rowing machine users don’t use it as their “go to” machine because they don’t think there’s much to a rowing machine workout. We will introduce you to 10 great rowing machine workouts that will keep you enthusiastic about using the unique piece of workout equipment on a regular basis.

Before You Begin: M​​​​aintaining The Right Posture

A rowing machine is relatively easy to use and is a good option for beginners. If you don’t know how to do the rowing machine workouts correctly, you’re likely to get frustrated, feel sore, and increase your risk of injury.

Knowing how to use a rowing machine and keeping a good posture may help you achieve maximum benefits and keep you safer while exercising. Better form means a faster payoff, and this is something everyone appreciates when they exercise. Before we give you 10 great rowing machine workouts to try, consider the following helpful tips:

  • Adjust the damper setting to something that works for you
  • Don’t forget to use your legs for power
  • Avoid relying solely on arm and core strength
  • Keep shoulders relaxed and spine neutral
  • Move slowly and have control
  • Keep wrists straight
  • Lightly wrap fingers around the handle
  • Extend arms out front

If you’re still unsure as to whether or not you’re using a rowing machine correctly, ask a local gym trainer or check out some videos online.

10 Great Rowing Machine Workouts​​​​

Before you dive into any of these 10 great rowing machine workout plans, read through each one first and determine if some are better suited for you than others. As with any new workout, talk with your health professional to make sure it’s safe for you. Also, it is vital to take the proper steps to stretch out and stay hydrated.

rowing machine workouts

Workout #1: The 20-Minute Plan

If you’re like millions of other busy adults, working out gets lower on your priority list each time you schedule a meeting or appointment. Crunched for time but want to try to get the recommended daily amount of exercise? This quick workout might be the perfect fit.

Before you get started, set the damper between three and five. After nine minutes, you will stand up and stretch out for about a minute (try some lunges) and then you’ll finish up the second half of the 20-minute workout. Here are the steps:

  • Warm up lasts three minutes, row 16 to 18 strokes per minute
  • Three to six minutes, row 20 to 22 strokes per minute
  • Six to eight minutes, row 22 to 24 strokes per minute
  • Eight to nine minutes, row 24 to 26 strokes per minute
  • Nine to Ten minutes: Stretch
  • 10 to 14 minutes, row 22 to 24 strokes per minute
  • 14 to 17 minutes, row 24 to 26 strokes per minute
  • 17 to 18 minutes, row 26 to 28 strokes per minute
  • 18 to 20 minutes, row 16 to 18 strokes per minute
rowing machine workouts

Workout #2: Row One Minute On, One Minute Off

This rowing workout consists of three sets, five reps, and strokes per minute that vary from 18 to 26.

Start your workout by rowing for one minute, using as much force as you can. The next minute is light strokes; each rep is one minute on and one minute off.

For the first set, the recommended stroke rates are 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26. 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 for the second, and for the third set of reps is 22, 24, 26, 28, 30.

Keep in mind, as a beginner, that you can start at a lower stroke rate per minute, but the goal is to work your way up; some experts believe the most effective strokes are between 20 and 30.

rowing machine workouts

Workou​​​​​​​t #3: A 45-Minute Plan

Indeed most rowing machine workouts incorporate some stretching and a few other exercises. However, if you are looking for a longer workout with some squats and stretches then do check out this rowing machine plan.

Warm Up For Two Minutes: 20 strokes of arms only, 20 strokes using arms and back, full body row for 20 strokes.

Two To Four Minutes: Row with a goal of 26 strokes per minute.

Four To 14 Minutes: 10 strokes of max effort, recover for one minute with an easy row, and repeat nine times.

14 To 19 Minutes: Get off the machine and do one minute each of squats, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, and hip stretches. Switch sides and repeat the circuit.

19 to 31:30: Two minutes of power rowing, 30-second recovery, repeat five times.

31:30 to 36:30: Repeat the stretching circuit (as listed above).

36:30 to 40:30: Four minutes of intense rowing.

40:30 to 45 Minutes: Cool down with a comfortable, slow row.

rowing machine workouts

Workout #4: 30 Minute Rowing Sprint Workout

For this sprint workout, a medium resistance is recommended but remember that you can choose your own setting.

Steps:

  1. After a five minute warm-up, you will row for 15 seconds hard with 15 seconds of rest (slow rowing).
  2. Repeat this for 30, 45, 60, and 75 seconds (hard and rest).
  3. Row for five minutes at a moderate stroke level and recover.
  4. Then, you will row for 75 seconds hard with 75 seconds of rest.
  5. Repeat this for 60, 45, and 30 seconds (hard and rest). Allow for a five minute cool down.
rowing machine workouts

Workout #5: Rowing Circuit Workout

This rowing circuit workout may be ideal if you like using kettlebells or dumbbells.

To warm up, you will row 700 m as fast as you can (you should be able to track the distance on the machine). Next, using a 15 lb kettlebell or dumbbell, alternate kettlebell swings to squats on each side.

Next, do lunges with kettlebell/dumbbells with 10 reps on each side. Follow up with 10 reps of planks on each side and 30 sit-ups. Repeat all the steps four times.

rowing machine workouts

Workout #6: Quick 15-Minute Workout

This rowing workout is quick and great for beginners or anyone who is working on multiple machines at the gym. By keeping track of your distance with the machine monitor, the steps are as follows:

  • Slow for 100m
  • Fast for 50m
  • Break for two minutes (stretch, etc.)
  • Slow for 200m
  • Fast for 50m
  • Break for one minute
  • Slow for 100m
  • Fast for 50m
  • Break for two minutes
  • Slow for 300m
  • Fast for 100m
  • Slow for 500m as a cool down
rowing machine workouts

Workout #7: Leapfrog Rowing Workout

This 45-minute workout focuses on sprinting and resting while rowing. Firstly, begin by warming up with an easy row for about 10 minutes. For 10 minutes, you will alternate between rowing for 26 strokes per minute to resting for one minute to rowing for 28 strokes per minute, rest for one, and back to 26 strokes (keep this pattern up for 10 minutes).

After a two minute rest, repeat the whole sequence for three rounds (including the two-minute rests).

rowing machine workouts

Workout #8: Pyramid Rowing Workout

This pyramid rowing workout is easy to follow and lasts about 42 minutes. With this, the recommended stroke rate should be between 26 and 32 per minute, but you can adjust based on your experience.

Start the workout with a ten minute warm up with an easy row. Row for one minute, rest for one. Row for two, rest for two. Continue until you reach four minutes. After the four-minute rest, decrease the time of row and rest until you reach one minute.

rowing machine workouts

Workout #9: 30/30 Rowing Workout

Similar to other rowing workouts, start out with an easy row 10-minute warm up. For your first interval do a 30-second sprint, 30-second rest, repeat for five rounds, and two minutes of air squats.

Next up for your second interval are the following:

  1. do a 30-second sprint
  2. 30-second rest
  3. repeat for five rounds, and two minutes of push-ups.
  4. For the final interval, repeat the 30/30 sprint and rest for five rounds and finish up with two minutes of air squats.
rowing machine workouts

Workout #10: Rowing Workout With Shoulder Raises and Thrusters

To finish off 10 great rowing machine workouts, we added a workout that uses 10-pound dumbbells (or the weight size of your choice).

Firstly, begin by rowing for five minutes, and then 25 shoulder raises or 25 thrusters (you can do both if you want). The rest of the workout includes rowing for:

  • four minutes, 20 raises/thrusters
  • three minutes, 15 raises/thrusters
  • two minutes, 10 raises/thrusters
  • one minute, five raises/thrusters

When rowing, you can choose your strokes per minute, but the recommended is the same as similar workouts (26 to 32).

Now that you know about these rowing machine workouts, you may want to go on choose the right machine for you. Let us help you with that with our rowing machine reviews: 

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