The Rowing Workout Plan To Build All-Round Fitness

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was one piece of gym equipment that did it all: Develop cardio fitness, build strength – both muscular and mental – and help you get slim? Well, there it is. It’s called a rowing machine, and with this weekly indoor rowing workout plan you’ll improve your strength and cardio fitness over four sessions a week.

The biggest benefit of using a rowing machine is that it works your whole body, targeting 86% of your muscles. Your legs will get the bulk of the exercise, as the rowing motion consists of about 65-75% of the lower body motion. The rest of the stroke is operated by your arms, back, and core.

You’ll also get a great cardiovascular workout that will allow you to improve your anaerobic threshold as well as develop your endurance.

Rowing Workout Plan Explained

This plan uses four different types of exercises because if you want to maximize improvements to your fitness, it pays to mix them up. Some sessions will primarily build stamina while others rely on strength. Variety of exercises may also help maintain your interest, which means you are more likely to stick to the plan, and following a consistent training routine is more important than any one exercise.

The plan fits into four sessions per week, which may seem low if you’re used to training every day, but don’t forget that rest days are essential to allow your body to recover. If you really want to add more exercise, you can do weight lifting exercises to complement this program, as well as stretching, yoga or Pilates sessions.

rowing technique

Before embarking on this plan make sure that your technique is sound. This ensures that you maximize your performance – the better you are, the more effective your training will be – and reduce your chances of injury. Our guide to the rowing technique is essential reading.

adjust resistance

If your rowing machine has a damper or dial to adjust the resistance, you may be used to setting it to the maximum. This is not always the best option. The low to medium setting will give you the most effective workout and can help protect your back.

beats per minute

The recommended strokes per minute (SPM) may be lower than you’re used to, but the focus of the plan is on efficiency and maintaining good technique. Before increasing your effort level, try sticking to the suggested SPM for a few sessions – you may be surprised at how well it works.

stress levels

The suggested voltage level falls on a scale from 1 to 4.

  1. The speed you can sustain over a long period.
  2. Sustained, but he’s starting to take a breath.
  3. Hard, but not quite maxed out.
  4. All you have.

stretch

You should focus on stretching the back muscles, triceps, quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and buttocks. If you don’t have an existing routine, try this stretching session.

Workout 1: HIIT

This session requires maximum effort rowing with a break in between, with the goal of developing your muscle strength and cardio fitness. Try to maintain a split (how long you row 500m) throughout your workout. If you find that you cannot maintain this level of effort, increase the amount of rest and reduce the period of work.

Heating

time 5 minutes

Gradually build pace and intensity, reaching 30 SPM on full exertion.

work out

groups 15 time 30 seconds comfort 30 seconds intensity 4 SPM 28-30

progress: Increase work time and reduce rest time by five seconds each week.

Adaptation: Reducing work time and increasing rest time.

warm up

time 5 minutes

Finish it off with a light beater, then stretch.

Workout 2: Threshold anaerobic workout

Oh, the burn! Prepare yourself as this exercise is challenging, but it will improve your aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold level. The stroke rate increases twice in the last four minutes, and by the end of each 10-minute set, you should feel like you’ve reached your limit. You then have four minutes of rest – plenty of time to fully recover from a great deal of effort and be ready to do it again. Aim to keep your splitting consistent between the three intervals, and if you lose a lot of strength in the third set, aim to regularize yourself in the earlier intervals the next time you complete the exercise.

Heating

time 5 minutes

Gradually build pace and intensity to reach 28SPM.

work out

Repeat the following three times in total.

  1. time 6 minutes intensity 3 SPM 24
  2. time 2min intensity 3 SPM 26
  3. time 2min intensity 3 SPM 28
  4. comfort 4 minutes

progress: Reduce the rest period to three minutes. Aim to beat your score from the previous week.

Adaptation: Start with two sets instead of three and/or increase the rest to five minutes.

warm up

time 5 minutes

Finish it off with a light beater, then stretch.

Exercise 3: Steady State

Leave your ego at the door for this steady state session. The goal is to build up your endurance and exercise. Make sure you’re paddling at a pace that lets you talk, even if it’s only in short sentences and if you’re familiar with your UT2 zone, try to stay within it. If you want to build on it, increase the length of time you row instead of increasing your level of effort.

Heating

time 5 minutes

Gradually build pace and intensity until you reach 18-20SPM. If you’re driven by time, use the first five minutes of exercise to warm up.

work out

time 40 minutes intensity 1-2 SPM 18-20

progress: Row longer, run for up to an hour.

Adaptation: Start with 20 minutes and continue up to 40 minutes during subsequent sessions.

warm up

Five-Minute Stretch – If you keep steady, you won’t need the usual five-minute light paddle.

Workout 4: Mat attack

Rowing studios that combine indoor kayaking and mat kayaking have taken over the fitness world. You don’t need to join a class to take advantage of this style of exercise, though — just try this studio-style session, alternating row sprints with circuit training. The goal is to improve your general conditioning, develop full-body muscular strength and aerobic fitness. If you’re not used to doing circuits, this can take you out more than you might expect. Be sure to include stretching at the end of this exercise as well.

The session should last about 30-35 minutes in addition to warming up and stretching. If you add a basic circuit, you can bring it up for an hour in total.

progress: Add free weights to the mat exercises and/or repeat the last round or add a basic circuit at the end.

Adaptation: Complete only one round of sections on the mat and/or increase rest periods.

Heating

time 8 minutes

Build from 20 SPM with light effort on the rowing machine to 28 SPM with firm effort.

Section 1

Complete two rounds in total from the next circle.

1 Curtsy lunge

time 1 minute comfort 0 seconds

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a step back with your right foot, but also move it behind your left leg until your right foot lands outside your left. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, then push up through your front foot to return to the starting position. Alternate sides with each rep.

2 squat jump

time 1 minute comfort 20 seconds

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push through your heels and explode to jump straight. Land softly and continue straight to the next rep.

Section 2

Return to the rowing machine and complete this sequence of intervals.

groups 6 time 40sec hard at 26-28SPM Recovery 20 seconds light at 22SPM

Section 3

Complete two rounds in total from the next circle.

1 reverse lunge

time 1 minute comfort 0 seconds

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a step back with your right foot. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, then push up through your front foot to return to the starting position. Alternate sides with each rep.

2 burpees

time 1 minute comfort 20 seconds

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend forward at your hips and bend your knees to place your hands on the floor outside of your feet, then jump your feet back to land in an overhead push-up position. Jump with your feet forward back to your hands, then jump straight up and raise your hands above your head. Land softly and continue straight to the next rep.

Section 4

Return to the rowing machine and complete this sequence of intervals. Finished up on the rug with no or minimal comfort.

1 row

groups 5 time 30 seconds fixed at 28-30SPM Recovery 20 seconds light at 22SPM

2 mountain climbers

time 1 minute comfort 0 seconds

Get into a raised plank position on your hands and feet, with your arms and hands extended under your shoulders, and your body forming a straight line from head to toe. Bring one knee toward your chest, then the other. Repeat at a pace.

3 pressure

time 1 minute comfort 0 seconds

Get into a raised plank position on your hands and feet, with your arms and hands extended under your shoulders, and your body forming a straight line from head to toe. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then push up hard. Keep your body in a straight line the whole time. Make the movement easier by placing your knees on the floor.

warm up

time 5 minutes

Finish with a light paddle on the rowing machine, then stretch.

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