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Blast Fat Fast on the Rowing Machine

Anthony Cunanan

Tweak the tension. You can adjust a rowing machine, also known as an erg, to create more resistance. Most machines are set to a scale of 1 to 10; Von Frohlich advises that you aim for a level between 2 and 5 for a good workout.

Give more push. Powerful strokes start with legs, not biceps. "Think of rowing as a horizontal dead lift," Von Frohlich says. Sit tall with your arms extended, then hinge your torso forward to an 11 o'clock position (shoulders in front of hips) as you slide the seat forward. When you push back, allow your knees to fully straighten before you rock your torso back to one o'clock, pulling the handle to your abs.

Know your numbers. Here's how to decode the monitor: The split time indicates your speed—or how long it would take you to row 500 meters—and the strokes per minute (spm) is a measure of your power. "For an efficient stroke, try to stay between 20 and 30 spm," Von Frohlich says.

The Plan

Crank up the calorie burn—while strengthening and stretching—with this 45-minute interval workout, created by Eric Von Frohlich.

Time (minutes) Activity
0:00 to 2:00 Warm up with a "pick" drill (row with only your arms for 20 strokes, then with your arms and back for 20 strokes and finally with your full body for 20 strokes). 
2:00 to 4:00 Row steady (aim for 26 strokes per minute).
4:00 to 14:00 Do 10 strokes as powerfully as you can (max effort), taking note of your split time; then recover with an easy row until you reach 1 minute. Repeat 9 times.
14:00 to 19:00 Get up and do this firm-flex circuit on the gym floor: 1 minute each of squats, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups and a hip stretch (kneel on floor on left knee, hands on hips; place right foot on floor in front of you, knee bent 90 degrees. Press hips forward and hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat). 
19:00 to 31:30 Do 2 minutes of power rowing, aiming for 10 to 15 seconds slower than the split time for your 10-stroke max effort, above; follow with a 30-secon easy recovery. Repeat 5 times.
31:30 to 36:30 Repeat the strength-stretch circuit. 
36:30 to 40:30  Do 4 minutes of intense rowing, aiming for 5 to 10 seconds slower than the split time for your 2-minute power row, above. 
40:30 to 45:00   Cool down with an easy row. 
Get this plan to go! We partnered with the Motion Traxx app to give you free audio coaching set to music for this workout.  Get your free coaching now at