12 Rowing Workouts That Will Incinerate Fat

12 Rowing Workouts That Will Incinerate Fat

How to Use a Rowing Machine

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You can’t expect to have an effective rowing machine workout if you don’t understand the proper form. From strapping your feet in to nailing the pull, here’s how you can row the right way.

The Start

Sit with your torso leaned forward at a one-o’clock angle, knees bent, shins as vertical as possible. Your arms should be straight, your shoulders level, and the seat should be close to your heels. Make sure to secure your feet in the machine’s stirrups.

The Drive

Press through your heels and use your legs to forcefully start a stroke. Once your legs are fully extended and your torso is perpendicular to the ground, explosively pull the handle toward your sternum. Focus on keeping the handle’s chain straight. Then hinge at your hips to lean your torso back to the ten- o’clock position. The handle should be just below your ribs.

The Recovery

Straighten your arms, then shift your torso forward. Finish by bending your knees, allowing the seat to slide back toward the starting position. Prepare to repeat the process for another pull.

5-Minute Row and Core Workout

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This quick five-minute routine mixes sprints and focused core work, using the rowing machine for more than just the standard pulls. You’ll flip around and put your feet on the seat to challenge your abs with a tough plank knee tuck movement. Your effort will dictate how much work you accomplish, since this is an AMRAP workout—so make sure to keep the effort up.

How to Do It:

  • Start on the rower. Row as hard as you can for 200 meters.
  • Immediately flip your position to a high plank so that your feet are planted on the rower’s seat, with your palms flat on the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension.
  • Drive your knees up to your chest, while maintaining full-body tension.
  • Repeat for as many rounds as possible for five minutes.

Renegade & Row EMOM

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This is a great workout finisher to burnout the back and core, by combining rowing with some renegade rows. The rowing goal based on calories burned, so the faster you go, the faster you’ll hit your target (and the longer you get to rest). Every minute, you will complete three renegade rows, and then hop on the rower for eight calories to start, and then start again at the top of the next minute, adding a calorie each round for five rounds. This will incentivize you to speed up to finish quickly, getting break as possible before the next minute begins, but that rest will decrease as the calorie goal grows. You can tailor the difficulty of this workout by moving the original calorie goal either up or down.

How to Do It:

  • Start by grabbing two light to medium sized dumbbells.
  • Set up in a high plank position to begin.
  • Perform three renegade rows.
  • Row once each arm, and complete with a pushup. This is one rep.
  • Hop on the rower, and make sure your screen is set to zero.
  • Row until you’ve hit 8 calories.
  • Rest until the next minute begins.
  • Redo all the above, adding a calorie every time.
  • Complete five rounds.

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The 1000-Meter Mixup

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Set your rower for 1,000 meters, and set the timer. Begin rowing, using powerful strokes. That’s just the start; you have work to do off the rower when you’re done in the form of hollow rocks. This will encourage you to finish the workout that much faster; the sooner you wrap up, the fewer hollow rocks you have to do. Meanwhile, doing the hollow rocks will allow you to row with more aggression, creating larger and larger breathers between your rowing. Hollow rocks are a solid offset to the rowing work. Rowing teaches you to extend at the hip, while the hollow rocks force you to be in control of hip extension. The blend of moves creates a well-rounded overall workout.

How to Do It:

  • Set your rower for 1,000 meters and begin rowing.
  • At the start of every minute (so when the rower hits 1 minute, then 2 minutes, then 3 minutes, and so on), get off the rower and do a hollow rock ladder.
  • The first time you get off the rower, do 5 hollow rocks.
  • The second time you get off, do 6; keep adding one hollow rock on every time you get off the rower.
  • Aim to finish in 5 to 7 minutes.

The Row and Burpee Challenge

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There’s nothing quite like a burpee penalty to make you row your fastest. This rowing workout will encourage you to stay with your pace; if you’re off on your pace, you’ll have to do burpees as a result.

How to Do It:

  • You’ll do 5 500-meter rows. Your target goal: Finish each row in 1:40.
  • Rest 5 minutes between each round.
  • If you finish under 1:40, enjoy the rest. If you finish over 1:40, count how many seconds you’re over. You’ll do that many burpees. (So if you finish in 1:50, you’d do 10 burpees. If you finish at 1:42, you do 2 burpees).

Bobby Maximus’ Row to Hell

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You’ll need a partner and a single rower for this workout from veteran trainer Bobby Maximus. The beauty of the workout: The rest period. Both you and your partner, if you’re evening matched, rest for about as long as you row, giving your body a chance to recover. That means you can push yourself at each distance, rowing as hard as you can and working to be explosive.

The rules for this one are simple. You and a partner are working a descending ladder of row work, providing each other with a rest period.

How to Do It:

  • Start by rowing 500 meters. Then get off the rower quickly and have your partner row 500 meters.
  • Immediately get back on the rower and go 400 meters, then have your partner row 400 meters.
  • Follow that by each rowing a 300, then a 200, then a 100, in the same rhythm.

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The Calorie Count-Up

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This workout starts out slowly but ends with a flourish. The best part: It has a natural built-in warmup.

How to Do It:

  • Set a rower to count 1-minute intervals. Your goal is to reach the required amount of calories before each minute is up.
  • The first minute, you’ll row for 5 calories, then rest until the next minute begins. The next minute, row for 6 calories, then rest until the next minute begins. Continue working up the ladder.
  • Aim to complete as many rounds as possible. The workout ends when you can no longer complete the required amount of calories in the minute.
  • Try to make it through at least 15 minutes of work.

From the Ground Up Workout


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How to Do It: Warm up for five minutes. Then do the following exercises in the order shown.

  1. Row, 100 meters
  2. Bodyweight squat, 10 reps
  3. Row, 200 meters
  4. Bodyweight squat, 10 reps
  5. Alternating reverse lunge, 20 reps
  6. Kneeling biceps curl to overhead press, 10 reps

That’s 1 round. Do 3 total rounds, resting when needed.

Pump and Row Pyramid


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How to Do It: Warm up for 5 minutes. Then do the following exercises in the order shown.

  1. Row, 100 meters, as fast as you can
  2. Bodyweight squat, 5 reps
  3. Pushup, 5 reps
  4. Feet-elevated mountain climber, 5 reps

That’s 1 round. Repeat for the following rounds, resting as needed, but adjust the number of reps according to the directions below.

Round 2: Row 200 meters, then do 10 reps of each move

Round 3: Row 300 meters, then do 15 reps of each move

Round 4: Row 200 meters, then do 10 reps of each move

Round 5: Row 100 meters, then do 5 reps of each move

Finish with a 60-second plank.

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The 20-Minute Metabolic Thruster Blast

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This total body blast will torch your legs as you work through the squat motion of the thruster and the deadlift-like motion that the row calls for. Get ready to break a killer sweat. You can do this workout with either dumbbells or kettlebells in addition to your rower.

Warm up for five minutes. Then do the following exercises in the order shown.

How to Do It:

  • Row, 500 meters, as fast as possible.
  • Dumbbell or kettlebell thruster, 25 reps
  • That’s 1 round. Do 4 total rounds, resting as needed between rounds and reps of thrusters. Aim to complete the workout in less than 20 minutes.

Burpee Blast Challenge

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You’ll jump on and off the rower to get your pulse pounding.

How to Do It:

Warm up for five minutes. Set the rower’s monitor to display calories. Row hard for 2 minutes. Remember your calorie score—that’s the number of calories you’ll aim hit in each subsequent row. Now do 10 burpees. Row until you reach your calorie score from the previous 2-minute row. Now, do 9 burpees. Row again, hitting the same calorie goal, then do 8 burpees. Continue this descending ladder pattern until you finish the round that has just 1 burpee. Try to complete the workout as fast possible, resting as needed throughout. Aim to finish in less than 30 minutes.

Try and Hang On

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This 10-minute every minute on the minute (EMOM) burner will humble you. “The first few minutes will feel okay, but then fatigue will kick in around minute eight. Try to hang on for as long as possible,” says Ian Creighton, CF-L1. “If you get really fatigued and know you’re not going to be able to hit the reps on one of the minutes, rest an entire minute then pick up where you left off.”

If you’re a beginner, tone down your rep goal to adjust the workout to you. Creighton suggests aiming for 10 calories on the rower and 8 burpees if you’re just starting out. You can also cut the lateral jump over the machine—be especially careful with this aspect of the routine. If you’re more advanced, add in a few calories and reps. The key is to not adjust your rep goal after you’ve started. If you feel like you need to take a break, “rest an entire minute then pick up where you left off,” he says.

How to Do It:

Start the exercise every minute, on the minute. Aim to finish at about 40 seconds to allow yourself a break before starting the next minute. Alternate the two minutes below until you reach 10 minutes.

Minute 1: 15 calories on the rower

Minute 2: 12 Over the erg burpees—perform a burpee, then at the top jump laterally over the erg and perform a burpee on the other side. That’s one rep.

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Rowing and Core Ladder

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If you’re looking to mix cardio and core, look no further. In this workout from Creighton, you’ll ladder up reps of a core exercise with calories on the rower to create the perfect full body cardio and core workout.

How to Do It:

Start at 20 calories on the rower and 20 reps of the knee tucks and increase by 10 each round until you hit 50. Once you complete 50 of each, ladder back down decreasing by 10 until you reach 20 again.

Alternate between:

Calories on the rower

Erg knee tucks: Get into a high plank position behind the rower—place your hands about 1 to 2 feet behind the rower and feet on the seat of the erg. Adjust hands if necessary so that the seat of the rower is as close to the flywheel as possible in order to get full range of motion. Perform a rep by keeping your core braced and pulling your feet forward and tucking knees into chest, then return to full high plank position.


Mark Barroso CSCS

Mark Barroso, CSCS, is a Master Trainer, Spartan SGX Coach, freelance writer and aspiring Athletic Trainer based in New Jersey.

Headshot of Ebenezer Samuel,  C.S.C.S.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men’s Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He’s logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men’s Health in 2017, he served as a sports columnist and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.  

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