Top 3 Rowing Exercises | Improve Conditioning

You might have thought that the rower, or rowing machine, was the least versatile of all the cardio options in the gym, but you would be wrong.

This piece of equipment is beneficial to more than just rowing fanatics, especially when it comes to strength and endurance conditioning.

The rower provides you with an equal upper and lower body workout. For the legs you’ll work the upper front of your thighs, your glutes and calves, while your shoulders, trapz and lats in the lower back gets a workout (along with your pecs and biceps).

If you’re looking to improve conditioning on the back of an injury, rowing is ideal before you step it up to the treadmill because it provides a low-impact cardio workout that won’t see your recovering joints and muscles pounded in the same way you would when running.

So whether it’s muscle strengthening, calorie burning or cardio you want to work on, the following 3 workouts are guaranteed to help you see some improvements.

HIIT Workout

High intensity interval training is the one-stop shop for many people’s calorie burning needs, and it works just as effectively on the rower as it does for running. HIIT is about time-saving, too, but not at the expense of hard work. In fact, it is effective because the ‘high-intensity’ part means getting your heart rate up. When using the rower, you can ensure this by keeping your stroke rate above 26. You will also mix up the rowing with another exercise in between, ensuring that you get an overall workout in just 20 minutes.

For the rowing part, do so at high intensity for 30 seconds, followed by a 30 second low intensity row. Repeat five times and then hit the floor for 30 seconds of press-ups.

After a 2 minute rest repeat the rowing intervals followed by 30 seconds of squat jumps. Repeat the 2 minute rest and the rowing followed by 30 seconds of stomach crunches.

Endurance Workout

Whereas the HIIT workout is about high intensity, explosive power and fast results, this one is about improving your overall endurance. Your aim here is consistency; because you already know how long you’re at it, that doesn’t mean you get to move slower or rush your movements. Use the screen on your rower to make sure you’re not lagging behind. You will row in intervals, followed by an equal rest. To start you will row for 1 minute followed by a 1 minute rest, then 2 minutes of rowing followed by a minute’s rest. Continue this pattern until you’re at 6 minutes. You will then begin to decline, working your way down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 until you’re done.

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Anaerobic Workout

The anaerobic workout takes 40 minutes and is more like a weightlifting session than the previous rowing workouts. This one sees you working full-on, pushing for maximum heart rate (or the equivalent of a sprint) for one minute, followed by a minute of rest. Repeat this five times, followed by a full rest of 2 minutes. Repeat the whole lot 3 times. Before you begin, though, warm up with a low-intensity row.

What’s the aim here? The difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, in case you didn’t know, is that anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen. It involves the release of energy in cells by breaking down food in the absence of oxygen. As mentioned, this one is more like a weightlifting session, with emphasis on strength building for your legs. It’s essential that you keep your stroke rate above 26 for the sprints and, if you can, try to increase this number each round.

Do it right and you’re looking at burning more than 700 calories. Leg day, after all, is one of your best calorie burners at your disposal. This is because your legs contain your biggest muscle groups and so more muscle fibres are put to work, burning more energy.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Chris Appleton

Chris Appleton

Writer and expert

Chris is an editor and a level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, with a BA honours degree in Sports Coaching and Development, and a level 3 qualification in Sports Nutrition. He has experience providing fitness classes and programs for beginners and advanced levels of clients and sports athletes. Chris is also a qualified football coach, delivering high-level goalkeeping and fitness training at a semi-professional level, with nutritional advice to help maintain optimal performance. His experience in the sports and fitness industry spans 15 years and is continuously looking to improve. In his spare time, Chris likes to dedicate it to his family while training in the gym.

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