15 Rowing Workouts to Become a Better, All-Around Athlete

Rowing Machine Workouts

A rower is a staple in Crossfit or for anyone looking to improve their aerobic capacities or overall fitness. But just hopping on a rower for 20 minutes might not be the most efficient way to use this equipement.

So here’s 15 rowing workouts designed to seriously challenge you and improve your rowing skills.

A note on warmup

Before you start any of these workouts, warm up properly. The goal is to raise the body temperature and heart rate gradually to avoid being in the red from the start. Injury is very rare in rowing, or even non-existent, so it is mainly a cardio warm-up that should be favored. Start rowing slowly for a few minutes before starting to train. And of course, make sure to maintain a proper rowing form.

Before jumping in, a word on pacing

When it comes to assessing your rowing capacities, there is only one number that matters. It’s called the split. Your split is the amount of time it takes you to row 500 meters. So once in a while, you should test, and re-test, your split.

A simple way to do it is to measure your 500m as fast as possible, then take a good 5 minutes of rest, then test it again, but at a moderate pace. That way, you’ll know your numbers

For example, if a workout calls for a sprint, then you’ll know how fast to row. In the same way, if you’re during a longer workout, you’ll use your moderate pace.

Here are 15 Rowing Workouts for you to choose from

Tabata Row

I personally do this workout a lot, especially when I’m short on time.

A tabata is 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. 

  • The first 2 tabatas will be 20/10, so 20sec of work and 10 sec rest. Mark your total calories at the end of the 8 minutes.
  • The last 2 tabatas will be inversed tabatas, so 10 sec of work then 20 sec of rest. Mark your total calories at the end of the 8 minutes.
  • Your score is the total calories after 16min.

Up and down Pyramid Row

I like this workout as it forces you to row at different pace if you want to maximize your score.

  • 1min of row, then 1min of rest
  • 2min of row, then 2min of rest
  • 3min of row, then 3min of rest
  • 4min of row, then 4min of rest
  • 3min of row, then 3min of rest
  • 2min of row, then 2min of rest
  • 1min of row, then 1min of rest

Run & Row

This workout for time, for 2 rounds

1 round is:

  • 2,500m of running
  • 1,500 m of rowing

It’s up to you to put in maximum intensity and complete the course in a minimum amount of time. For obvious reasons of practicality, it is better to run on a treadmill.

Sprint time

Once in a while, it’s good to measure your max calories on a 1 minute rowing time. So you can do a simple 1min work, 2-minute rest, for 5 rounds. Try to beat your max cal each time you redo this workout.

Push and Pull

This workout is:

  • 1000m rowing
  • 20 handstand push-ups
  • 750m rowing
  • 30 handstand push-ups
  • 500m rowing
  • 40 handstand push-ups
  • 250m rowing
  • 50 handstand push-ups

Do the HSPU directly after the rowing. Do regular push-ups if you can’t do that amount of handstands.

Fat-burning rowing

Here’s a workout that should leave you on your knees!

Each round consists of :

  • 50 air squats
  • 30s of rowing at maximum intensity
  • 40 KettleBell Swing
  • 30s of rowing at maximum intensity
  • 30 situps
  • 30s rowing at maximum intensity
  • 20 push-ups
  • 30s of rowing at maximum intensity
  • 10 burpees

Try to complete 3 laps without sacrificing your technique on any of the exercises

The 2000-Meter Mixup

This workout is for time. The goal is to maximize your time on the Rower, so as soon as you get back on, start rowing fast!

  • Begin by setting your rower for 2,000 meters, then start rowing.
  • Get off the rower at the start of each minute (so when the rower reaches 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and so on). Do a weighted hollow rock ladder, then hop on the rower again.
  • The first time you get off the rower, do 5 hollow rocks. Do 6 hollow rocks the second time you get off, then add another rock every time you stop rowing.
  • – Aim to finish in 15 to 20 minutes.

Row and Burpees

This is a great way to keep you pushing through the whole workout. As long as you finish within 1:40min, you’re fine, but if you go above you’ll get a burpee penalty!

  • You’ll do 5 500-meter rows. Your goal for each row is to finish in 1:40.
  • Rest for 5 minutes between each round.
  • If you manage to finish in less than 1:40, enjoy your break. If you finish over 1:40, keep track of the seconds you’re above it. You’ll do that many burpees in that case. (So if you finish at 1:50, you’d do 10 burpees. If you finish at 1 In 42, you’ll do 2, etc.

I Go You Go Rower

A simple partner workout that will keep both of you honest.

  • The first athlete starts by rowing 500m. As soon as he’s done, the other one does it’s 500m.
  • As soon as athlete number 2 is through, the first one hops back in to do 400m, etc, until they’re both done with their 100m.
  • Push hard and transition as fast as you can

Death by calories

A death by is fun… until it isn’t!

  • The first minute, you need to do 5 calories
  • Then on minute 2, you’ll do 6
  • On minute 3, you’ll, do 7
  • Etc
  • Until you can complete the amount of calories you’re at within the minute
  • This workout really pays out towards the end, so keep pushing through during those last minutes

From the ground-up

  • Row 100m
  • Do 10 squats
  • Row 200m
  • Do 10 squats
  • Do 20 reverse lunge
  • Do 10 presses (50lb/35lb)
  • That’s 1 round, do a total of 3 rounds, for time

Row Pyramid

  • Row 100m as fast as possible
  • 5 squats
  • 5 pushups
  • 5mountain climbers
  • That’s round 1
  • Now do 5 of them, but add 100m of rowing and 5 reps of each movement per round
  • So you’ll end up doing a 500m row and 25 reps of each exercise at the last round

Row Thruster Blast

If you do it properly, this one is a burner!

  • Do 4 rounds of:
  • Row 500m as fast as you can
  • 25 DB Thrusters

Row – Inversed Burpee Pyramid

This is a 10-round workout

  • Row 400m, then do 10 burpees
  • Row 400m, then do 9 burpees
  • Row 400m, then do 1 burpee

You’ll start hopping on the rower faster and faster towards the end, so try to breathe during those burpees, you’ll need it 😉