Time for cardio! What are your choices? Let's see... Treadmill, elliptical, bike, stepmill. All legs! If only there were a better full-body option. Well, there is! It's the rower, and it's been getting less love than those other options for far too long.
Why row? Not only does it help improve cardiovascular conditioning, it also works nine major muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, triceps, shoulders, upper and lower back, biceps, and lats. In short, it doesn't just leave your legs drained. The resistance created by the flywheel creates a full-body push-pull effect that helps improve both muscular strength and endurance.
Not only is it efficient, rowing is also low-impact, making it a great option for nearly anyone, regardless of age or past injuries. So hop off the bike and put your run on hold to check out these workouts from Alex Silver-Fagan, a coach at CityRow in NYC. Each one mixes rowing intervals with classic bodyweight movements that will leave you stronger, leaner, and definitely sweatier!
1. Row, Burpee, Row
If your goal is fat loss, maxing the number of calories you burn is key. While that "calories burned" ticker on the machine doesn't tell the whole story, it's a great way to track progress and gauge intervals. "An intense workout that leads to major energy output and burns calories not only during but also post-row is your best bet for fat loss," says Silver-Fagan. "It's great to track calories, but don't confuse the number on the monitor with the calories burned in your body. In this workout, that number is only the beginning of the fun!"
By interweaving rowing and bodyweight exercises like burpees, you'll actually burn more calories while getting a wicked full-body workout. Plus, the added variety will help stave off boredom. No watching the minutes tick by when doing this workout!
- 10 seconds (or 2 calories)
- 20 seconds (or 4 calories)
- 30 seconds (or 6 calories)
- 40 seconds (or 8 calories)
- 50 seconds (or 10 calories)
- 60 seconds (or 12 calories)
- 70 seconds (or 14 calories)
- 80 seconds (or 16 calories)
- 90 seconds (or 18 calories)
- 100 seconds (or 20 calories)
Note: This conversion is far from exact. Experienced rowers may need less time to row for the stated calories, and new rowers may need more.
2. Rowing Distance Ladder
According to Silver-Fagan, if you can row 1000 meters in under 4 minutes, you're a rowing rock star. But just throwing yourself at that number over and over again isn't necessarily the best way to get there. Instead, try this pyramid-style workout she designed to boost your overall rowing distance while breaking it up with bodyweight movements.
Feel free to substitute other bodyweight exercises for the squats, lunges, and push-ups, but make sure you're still hitting both your upper and lower body with compound movements.
3. 10-Minute Full-Body Rowing Intervals
The first two workouts were focused on calories and distance. This one is all about time—one grueling minute at a time!
Rowing is the perfect candidate for an interval-training workout routine, but don't be satisfied with just surviving each minute. "An awesome test for rowing is to see if you can row 300 meters in 60 seconds," explains Silver-Fagan. "You might not be able to do it the first try, but keep working toward it."
Each time you perform this workout, note the amount you row in your best minute, which is probably also your first one. Then set the goal of beating it! This workout may only last about 10 minutes, but it'll be a very intense 10 minutes that will, over time, help you improve your 60-second-interval performance.