List Of Rowing Exercises

List Of Rowing Exercises

Rowing is an exhausting and challenging sport. The sport engages a wide range of muscles to move the boat as a team. It is a necessity to do various exercises both on a rowing machine and without strengthening oneself. Below is a list of exercises that can help improve your rowing.

Bodyweight Rowing Exercises

If you don't have a rowing machine or access to a boat for rowing, don't worry. There are still a wide variety of bodyweight exercises that you can do which will help improve your rowing, regardless of whether you have a machine available. Here is a list of some of the most common exercises rowers do without a machine.

  • Squat
  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Back Rows
  • Burpees


While rowing looks like an activity that uses mostly your arms, it's something that requires plenty of leg muscles. Doing squats is one of the most important exercises for building leg strength in a way that can't be done through rowing alone. To do a squat properly, be sure to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and begin sitting back. Sit down as low as possible while keeping your feet planted and your knees behind your toes. Rise up when you're done to complete a repetition.


Your core is active the entire time while rowing, so it's important to do exercises that work that area. To perform a plank, start in a push-up position with your forearms on the floor and facing forward. Then, keep your hips elevated so that your body is straight and parallel to the ground. Hold that position. It is recommended to try more advanced movements that aren't as static once you're comfortable.

Side Plank

The side plank is great for building strength in your obliques, gluteus, and hips. It is also crucial for building frontal stability. To do a side plank, put one forearm on the ground and turn to one side. Once turned, raise your hips up until your body is straight and parallel with the ground. Hold that position until you're finished and repeat on the other side.

Back Rows

If the exercise is named after the motion that dominates the sport, then there's a good chance that the exercise will help you improve at said sport. That is definitely the case with back rows, although doing them with just your body weight can be a challenge. To do this, find a bedsheet, make a knot, throw the knot over your door and shut it tight. Then, grab the sheet on both ends with both hands and lower yourself down at an angle. Once you find the best angle for yourself, pull yourself up with just your arms and then lower yourself back down slowly to finish a rep. Just make sure that door is shut tight so you don't fall back!


Burpees are an exercise that's often dreaded since it can be difficult to do. However, it is highly effective for helping burn fat and calories, and when combined with rowing, its effectiveness increases. To do a burpee, start standing upright with your hands to your side. Squat down to the ground, put your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, and then kick your legs back. Drop down before bringing your knees back up to your chest and then rise up, adding a jump at the end to complete one rep.

Rowing Machine Exercises

While it's always great to do bodyweight exercises, those are more than anything meant to augment your experience. Most of the important work will be done on a rowing machine, where there are plenty of workouts that help improve your cardiovascular endurance. While the motion almost always stays the same, there are plenty of ways to keep the workouts varied. Here are some examples of the best rowing workouts out there.

  • Pyramid Power
  • HIIT Sprints
  • Power Stroke Rowing Machine Workout
  • Tabatas
  • The Engine Builder
  • The 2,000 Meter Time Trial

Pyramid Power

This is a more intermediate level challenge that aims to help you improve your endurance. Think of this workout as a pyramid where you work your way up to the hardest level and then slowly back down. To do this workout, start with a 10 minute warmup. Then row for one minute at about 75% effort and a stroke rate between 26-32 a minute. Once your minute ends, row easy for one minute. You'll repeat that 1:1 ratio until you hit four minutes. Once you hit that, you'll go back down to one minute.

HIIT Sprints

HIIT workouts, or high intensity interval training workouts, are focused on maximizing your effort and output nice and quickly. They're not the easiest workouts, but they're great for burning as many calories as possible in a short amount of time. To do the HIIT sprints workouts, warm up for 10 minutes before starting your first interval. For five rounds you'll do 30 seconds at max effort followed by 30 seconds of rest. Once the five rounds are finished, do two minutes worth of squats. Do that for three intervals, the only change being in the second interval when you trade squats for push-ups. Switch back to squats for interval three.

Power Stroke Rowing Machine Workout

This specific rowing machine workout is focused on generating as much power as possible with each stroke. It requires you to activate your arms and core while pushing with your feet to make each stroke feel powerful. To do this exercise, warm-up for 5-10 minutes and then do 10 power strokes at 24 SPM. Then recover for 10 strokes before doing another 10 power strokes, this time at 26 SPM. Recover again before doing 10 more power strokes at 28 SPM. Cool down for 5-10 minutes.


Tabata workouts are in the same family as HIIT workouts. The main difference is that tabata always has a 2:1 work/rest ratio, meaning essentially that for every 20 seconds of work you have 10 seconds of rest and so on. If you want a quick tabata workout, warmup for about 10 minutes. Then for 8 sets, do 20 seconds of max effort followed by 10 seconds of easy rowing. Once done, you can either cool down for 5 minutes and finish or cool down for 2 minutes before starting again. Whatever you choose, you will be sweating it up.

The Engine Builder

This workout on the rowing machine is designed to help build endurance for longer rows. It requires the rower to stay both mentally and physically locked in the entire time and is highly important for building up much needed aerobic endurance. To do the engine builder workout, simply find a stroke rate that's high intensity (a stroke rate which is between 24 and 30 strokes per minute should do). Then, hold that stroke rate for 40 to 60 minutes. You're done once your time is up.

The 2,000 Meter Time Trial

This exercise is great for setting a barometer for how quickly you can row 2,000 meters. It's the equivalent of a one-rep max for weightlifter's, the ultimate baseline test for how quickly you can get to a certain point. To do this workout, warm-up for 10 minutes and take 60 seconds to recover. Then, start rowing until you hit 2,000 meters while keeping track of how long it takes. If it's too difficult to reach 2,000 at the beginning in one attempt, try breaking the 2,000 meters up into 500 meter splits.