Rowing: Your New Favorite Cardio
Looking for cardio that doesn’t involve the treadmill? Whether you’re avoiding high-impact exercise due to an injury or just need to freshen up a stale cardio routine, we want to introduce you to a piece of equipment you’ve probably seen at your club, but may not have tried: the rowing machine.
This piece of equipment is often overlooked because it’s not as simple to use on your first try as a treadmill or Stairmaster. It’s important to remember that rowing is a sport—so it’s important to give yourself time to learn the technique and not feel frustrated if it takes a little longer to master.
Once you learn proper form, rowing is one of the most efficient workouts available. This full-body exercise engages your legs, back, core and arms. It also puts less pressure on your knee and hip joints than running. Best of all, rowing combines strength training and cardio so you can get it all done at once. You can’t do that on a treadmill!
- Adjust your foot straps. The strap should go over the widest part of your foot.
- Set the damper (a lever on the side of the fan cage) somewhere between 3 and 5. Think of your damper setting like gear settings on a bike: it affects how the movement feels but doesn’t directly affect the resistance. It doesn’t control the intensity of your workout: you do!
- Sit tall, relax your shoulders and engage your core.
- Watch rowing videos to understand proper technique as you work to perfect your own form. Have a friend or one of our Trainers watch you row and tell you how to improve or use the mirror to check your form. We won’t tell if you record yourself on your phone either.
- Though rowing looks like it’s an exercise you do with your arms, it’s really all about the legs. Begin the drive with your legs, then follow with your core and back muscles, then finally your arms – and you shouldn’t pull until your hands clear your knees.
- Your recovery (resetting back to a coiled position with knees bent) should take about twice as long as your explosive drive for each stroke.
- If you feel like you’re struggling, you haven’t mastered the technique yet!
Your First Rowing Workout
This 24-minute workout aims to introduce you to rowing and teach you how to find a cadence: how to go slower, faster, create more power, and do these things consistently.
Don’t worry about your wattage, power, or distance for this workout. Look for “Strokes per Minute” (SPM) on your rower’s display, then follow the plan below.
2 minutes: 20 SPM
2 minutes: 22 SPM
2 minutes: 24 SPM
Rest for 2 minutes, then repeat two more times.
Don’t be surprised if rowing becomes your new favorite cardio. Going nowhere never felt so good!