The standard rowing machine seen in health clubs around the world is one of the best, yet underutilized pieces of equipment in every gym. Trade the busy treadmills and ellipticals for a rowing machine. Not convinced? A standard hour-long rowing workout can burn anywhere from 600-1200 calories, based on intensity. It provides stimulation to all the main muscle groups in the body as well as building hardcore cardiovascular endurance. In other words, those who consistently train using a rowing machine will be able to go harder, faster, and longer than those who use other cardio machines. Couple this knowledge with the impact on your knees is significantly reduced when compared with a treadmill.

Even if you are content with your current cardio plan the rowing machine is still valuable as a massive change of pace from the boring, one foot in front of the other, action of a treadmill. While it does take a couple of times to get used to, the attention to technique needed keeps rowing interesting. There are many pieces to perfect technique, each piece requiring mental effort to perform. This is how time can fly when rowing. Making each stroke better than the last is a great focus point. Rowing is still a repetitive action which, with practice, allows the rower to “zone out” and get into a nice rhythm. Any way you slice it, the rowing machine has something for everyone.

The main reason more people do not use it is they do not understand it. What happens first? Is it an arm workout, or a leg workout? What does good technique look like? These are all common questions for a beginner, and most frequently personal trainers, or others at the gym, won't know the answers fully.

Don't know how long and fast to row? These workouts are a nice introduction and offer a variety of lengths and intensities, 1 being the least intense and 3 being the most. Each of these workouts are designed to provide you variation and keep exercise interesting and fun. Challenge yourself to give them a shot the next time you go to your local gym.

  1. Row 20 minutes at a pace that it would be hard to hold a conversation during. Take a 5 minute break. Do it again.

  2. Interval training - Row 1 minute at a quick run intensity, followed by 1 min of rowing at pace equivalent to power walking.

  3. Row for 20 minute or roughly 5000 meters at increasing levels of intensity. Make the first 5 minutes feel like a light jog, the next 5 should feel like a brisk jog, at 15 minutes it should feel like a quick run, and the last 5 minutes you should make it feel like an all out sprint.