Machine Workout Series: Rower Edition


Machine Workout Series: Rower Edition

In the latest edition of our machine workout series, we’re strapping into the rowing machine. A regular feature — and one of the most popular pieces of kit — in all Third Space clubs, the simple piece of kit can provide a brutally effective workout once you dip your oar in. You just need a battle plan. With the help of Third Space Canary Wharf Senior Instructor Alex Rennie, we’re here to do just that.

“The rowing machine is the ultimate full body piece of conditioning kit. Each stroke is roughly 60% legs, making it quite the lower-body belter,” explains Rennie. “Broken down, we start each stroke with a huge drive through the legs, then the body tilts slightly back and the stroke is finished with a pull.”

“Here, we have three varied rowing workouts. Workout #1 is a baseline rowing distance to re-test every three to four weeks, that’s more aerobic fitness-focused. Workout #2 is a power-driven workout, focusing on how much power you can create in a short amount of time. Finally, Workout #3 is a high-octane sprint workout.” Let’s get to work. 


Rower Workout #1: 2KM Row, For Time

“Slow and steady wins the race,” explains Rennie. “It’s the benchmark for a ‘rowing WOD’ and a test that will really challenge your ability to pace effectively. Using the strokes per minute (SPM) as a pacer in the top-right of the monitor, the following should give you a good base to start with. On the fourth and final effort, empty your tank and leave it all on the floor.” Once you’re finished, make a note of your finishing time and aim to beat it in three to four weeks.

  • 0-500M: Aim to row between 20-24 S/M. 
  • 500-1000M: Aim to row between 22-26 S/M
  • 1000-1500M: Aim to row between 24-28 S/M
  • 1500-1750M: Aim to row between 26-30 S/M1750-2000m


Rower Workout #2: ‘Hanging On For Dear Life’

“Here, we’re working for six rounds of 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off. Your score is the average calories hit over the six total rounds,” says Rennie.

“Try to work as hard as possible for 20 seconds, then recover for another 20 seconds. My advice is to stay clipped into the rower, but keep your legs fully extended and shake them out to flush out the lactic acid. Aim to start strong, hit a good base number in rounds one to three and then, when the workout really starts from round four, hang on for dear life to that number. What’s your average score for the six total rounds? Try to keep no more than two to four calories’ difference between each effort and retest in three to four weeks.”


Rower Workout #3: Downward Ladder

“We’re now sprinting to the finish line,” says Rennie. “This will be a short and snappy WOD to finish you off. All movements want to be near a sprint effort and, again, this is where our lactate threshold will be tested to the max alongside our ability to maintain a consistent pace throughout without a huge drop-off in intensity.” 

Complete 15/12/9/6/3 Reps Of: 

  • Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch
  • Air Squats
  • Butterfly Sit Ups*

*Before starting next round, you must complete within 20 seconds: 70/90/110m Row. 

His biggest advice on this one? “Smooth is fast! Let’s make the change-overs from each exercise as smooth as possible.” 

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