Sit down, shut up and sweat your way to the body of an athlete. You’ll need to grit your teeth

The rowing machine is having a moment. For so long left to gather dust in the corner of the gym, the total-body fitness benefits of this elite cardio kit are finally getting the credit they deserve. An expert in burning lungs and kcals, time spent in the hot seat can help you improve, well, just about everything. Essentially, if you’re not already rowing at least once a week then it’s high time you went on the pull. Not sure where to start? Dip your oar into our workouts below and reel in your best-ever body.

 

The 2,000m time trial

This is the be all and end all for rowers. It’s the distance used in indoor and outdoor rowing competitions. But more importantly, 2k is the equivalent to your 10k running time or the number of strict pull-ups you finally mastered – it’s bragging rights ammunition. Climb on, strap in and go until you reach the finish line.

This is an all-out slog and timing is everything. Rowing uses multiple muscle groups and the lactic acid will build up quickly. Go off too quickly and you’ll blowout early. Even the pros take more than five minutes so try and balance your effort levels with the time on the clock as best you can and leave a bit in the tank for a sprint finish.

This is your fitness marker. Chipping away at your 2k best will ensure your rowing workouts remain motivated, and your conditioning continually improves. Give yourself three attempts to get the hang of it and compare your timings to our benchmarks below. Then go again and beat it.

Male:
Beginner – <8min
Advanced – <7min
Olympian – <6min

Female:
Beginner – <9min 30secs
Advanced – <8min 30secs
Olympian – <7min 30secs

Finisher Intervals

Indoor rowing is the perfect kit to work at maximum intensity with minimal injury risk. Treadmill sprints can get a little scary, let’s be honest! This makes it ideal for interval training – the short, sharp sprints that speed up your metabolism and help you to burn fat long after you’ve hit the showers.

Work / rest durations can be varied (you’ll likely be familiar with the burning hell of Tabata’s 20s on, 10s rest protocol) but the most effective format on the rower is more measured, allowing you time to get your strokes up to speed. If you’re looking to close your activity ring or burn a few extra kcals after a session then try five rounds of this short, sharp cardio blitz and set your sights on pulling yourself into the advanced time bracket below. But hold on tight, this is going to burn.

Work – 500m
Rest – 1min

Male:
Beginner target – <1.55m each interval
Advanced – <1.40m
Olympian – <1.25m

Female:
Beginner – <2.10m
Advanced – <1.55m
Olympian – <1.40m

The Ultimate Rowing Challenge Workout

A – 6x2min intervals with 1min rest. Workout B – 1min sprint. Workout C – 13min. We’ll just let you digest that for a second. If you’re in the mood to really test your mettle then might we suggest having a fairly potent pre-workout and blocking out an hour for fun*. *Results may vary. So, you have 60 minutes to complete all three workouts. As a beginner’s guide we suggest you do A at the start, B on 30mins and C on 40mins. To calculate your score at the end combine the distance covered over the three with B multiplied by 10. i.e. A + (Bx10) + C = Total distance. This challenge is designed to test you as a complete athlete. There’s nowhere to hide because it works a variety of your body’s energy systems, all in the one session. To excel you need to be able to clear lactate well (A), produce super power over short distances (B) and have good aerobic capacity and muscular endurance (C) to grit your teeth through the final push for the line. Are you ready? Aim high. Or low, should we say.

Male:
Beginner target – >8km
Advanced – >10km
Olympian – >12km

Female:
Beginner – >6km
Advanced – >8km
Olympian – >10km