Many rowing machines, such as the concept2, come in with various workout programs, and a common feature among many high end models is the ability to program in your own workout programs.
However, if you’re just getting started, I recommend rowing at a your own pace for as long as you can manage in order to get to grips with your machine and practice your technique.
If you have just started using a rowing machine, just row, even if you’re not efficient, rowing is still better than not rowing!
Beginner Rowing Machine Workouts
If you are a beginner, you might want to stick with some less challenging workouts, less challenging does not mean ‘less beneficial’ however, whatever you feel best suited for should be a good enough workout. Here are some beginners workouts that I feel might be beneficial.
- 3 minutes at 20 strokes per minute (spm), comfortable effort; 1 minute rest.
- 3 minutes at 22 spm, harder effort; 1 minute rest.
- 3 minutes at 24 spm, comfortable effort; 1 minute rest.
- 3 minutes at 24 spm, harder effort; 1 minute rest.
- 10 minutes rowing at comfortable effort, a quick break to catch your breath then another 10 minutes of rowing
Intermediate Rowing Machine Workouts
If you feel like these workouts aren’t challenging enough for you, give some of these a go.
- Row for 750 metres (0.46 miles) at 30/28 spm with a 3 minutes long break, repeat 12 times with a longer break half way through
- Row for 20 minutes at 20/22 spm at a comfortable pace. Repeat 2-3 times take a 3 minute break in between each 20 minute interval, this is good for building aerobic fitness
- 30 seconds high effort rowing, 30 seconds break. Repeat however much you want.
Rowing Workouts To Test Your Abilities
If you want to compare yourself to other rowers or compete, there are standardized workouts which you can use to test your abilities.
In these workouts, you row as fast as you possibly can in order to achieve the fastest time possible, it’s recommended that you build up experience with your indoor rowing machine before you try these.
These are quite intense and will leave you feeling mentally and physically drained, so attempt these at your own risk!
2000 metres rowing test (1.25 miles)
Many rowers find the 2000 metre test to be one of the most challenging tests out there. This is a uniquely difficult test that will stretch you to your limit. This is the most widely used test and rowers tend to use it the most for direct comparisons, it is also the standard race distance in national and Olympic races.
6000 metres rowing test (3.70 miles)
This test is used to measure long distance endurance, 6k tests are usually used for national team selection or in special events, they can be as hard, if not harder than 2K tests
500 metres (0.30 miles)
This test is used to measure your short distance endurance, the 500 metre is a good starting test for beginners as it usually takes around 2 minutes to do and is fairly manageable in comparison to the other ones
100 metres (328 ft)
The 100 metre ‘test’ is not really a test, it measures your short term explosive speed. This is the shortest possible test on many rowing machines, because of this, it feels like it’s over before it’s even begun, for this reason it is one of the only tests out there that you’ll enjoy.
Taking Full Advantage Of Your Ergometer
The most important thing to do is to hop an erg of your choice and to get stuck in.
In my 7 years of experience in using them, my main recommendation would be to always switch things up! If you follow the exact same workout every time you jump onto this magnificent machine, you won’t be able to take full advantage of it.
The rowing machine’s power lies in its versatility, it gives a complete head to toe workout but it can do so much more than just that.
If you utilize long, slow steady state pieces you will work on your long distance endurance.
This is perfect for long distance runners or even those that just want to feel more comfortable when they go on that arduous early morning jog.
When used with high-intensity bursts followed by short breaks (HIIT sessions) your power and anaerobic fitness is vastly improved. Both of these styles of training burn astonishing amounts of calories and are very demanding, but are perfect for losing weight or gaining muscle
This is only a small example of all the training variations one can employ. Coupled with the ergometers ability to reach all major and most minor muscle groups. This allows none of the imbalances in strength and flexibility that can plague conventional gym work like weights training to occur, as long as good technique is used.
I can not stress enough how integral this machine should be in ALL workout plans and training sessions.