Row Workouts for Winter Woes

rowing workout

Stuck inside and sick of the treadmill? Try the row machine.

Why rows?

  • Excellent for the back, which is often neglected.
  • Low impact cardio, which is great for the middle-aged.
  • Works the whole body, which is always a good thing.

For a simple cardio workout, just hop on the row machine for 10-20 minutes. A good pace for someone who is relatively fit is 18-22 strokes per minute; that is a stroke every 3-4 seconds.

For a more intense rowing experience, try an interval workout, described below.

*These workouts are for rowing machines with sliding seats.

Interval workout for the row machine

Row machines can be a little tricky for people who’ve never used them because mastering the proper technique isn’t easy, and many people aren’t sure how to push themselves.

First, about form: The proper order when extending in a row is to engage the legs, then the core, then the arms. After finishing the extension, recovery is the opposite: punch out the arms, then bring in the core, then bend the legs.

Here’s a simple guide for good intermediate workouts that can be integrated into your weekly fitness plans.

Workout 1

5 minutes: alternate between the following:

  • 30 seconds at 24-26 strokes a minute (spm)
  • 30 seconds at 28-30 spm
Workout 2

Warm up: Do 5 minutes of rows at 15-20 spm

Sprint: 2 minutes at 25-28 spm

Rest: 2 minutes

Medium Exertion: 4 minutes at 20-25 spm

Rest: 2 minutes

Sprint: 2 minutes at 25-28 spm

Rest: 2 minutes

Cool down: 3 minutes at 15 spm

Total time: 22 minutes

Here are some professional tips to help get the most out of your row workout:

  • Rowing is about rhythm, so find some up-tempo music that you can workout to.
  • Most of the power should come from the legs.
  • The extension phase should last half as long as the recovery phase (when you’re coming back into the bent-knee position).

What if I don’t have a row machine?

There are multiple alternatives that work out similar muscle groups, though the benefits are slightly different. Try the following:

  • Bent-over barbell row
  • Seated cable rows
  • Single-arm dumbbell row
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