​4 Rowing Workouts That Burn Fat and Build Muscle

Thanks in part to CrossFit, indoor rowing is having a moment. Not only have boutique rowing studios thrived all over the U.S. (Greenville Indoor Rowing in South Carolina, Row Zone in Philadelphia, Ro Fitness in Texas and Row House and CITYROW in New York to name a few), large gym chains are also putting rowing machines on their floors. The cardio contraption allows for a holistic workout—you’ll not only challenge your lungs and hammer your lower body, you’ll also sculpt your core, back, and arms.

“It’s a total-body workout that uses most of the muscles in your body during every stroke with little to no impact,” says Lisa Niren, ACE-certified group fitness instructor and CITYROW trainer. “It burns fat while providing extreme cardiovascular fitness and ridiculous muscular endurance.”Compared to other full-body cardio sports—swimming and cross-country skiing, for example—you’ll build more strength and power while rowing, Eric Von Frohlich, CrossFit Level 1 certified trainer and founder of EVF Performance and Row House NYC. “Rowers tend to be more muscular than other endurance athletes: their backs, shoulders and arms are thicker and stronger. A good, powerful row stroke is similar to a kettlebell swing or a deadlift because you have to engage your core so the power from your legs transfers to the handle.”

Many boutique rowing gyms are taking it a step further, combining rowing intervals with strength training, which Niren says burns more fat and lets you hit more muscles than rowing alone.

Designed by Niren and Frohlich, these four rowing workouts incorporate a combination of rowing machine work and strength moves. The result: You’ll build muscle, improve your fitness across the board, and torch fat fast. Get rowing! (Get dozens of free workouts on your phone with the FREE Men’s Health App. Download it here.)

FROM THE GROUND UP WORKOUT
1/4 Getty Images
FROM THE GROUND UP WORKOUT

Directions: 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
2/4 Getty Images
PUMP AND ROW PYRAMID

Directions: 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.

20-MINUTE METABOLIC BURNER
3/4 Mitch Mandel
20-MINUTE METABOLIC BURNER

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

  1. Row, 500 meters, as fast as possible
  2. Dumbbell thruster, 25 reps

That’s 1 round. Do 4 total rounds, resting as needed between rounds. Aim to complete the workout in less than 20 minutes.

BURPEE BLAST CHALLENGE
4/4 Mitch Mandel
BURPEE BLAST CHALLENGE
Directions: 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.

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