Indoor Rowing Workouts to Get You Back on Track

We’ve all been there… You’re going along fine with your rowing machine workouts. Showing up for them according to your plan, feeling like you could conquer the world when you’re done. Nothing’s going to stop you now!

And then life gets in the way.

You get sick, you go on vacation, you get an injury that requires you to lay off for a while. One day you wake up and you realize, “I’ve gotten way off track.” Days or weeks have gone by without a real workout happening.

Now what?

First off, stop and take a deep breath. Getting off track with your workouts is totally normal. It doesn’t make you bad, wrong, or any kind of a failure. It makes you human.


How to Get Back on Track

As soon as you realize you’ve fallen off your plan, don’t stew over it, and certainly don’t beat yourself up. It happens to everyone at some point, and it’s completely fine.

The worst thing you can do is decide, “I’ll never be able to stay consistent with my rowing machine workouts no matter what I do.” Then give yourself permission to skip the gym and turn your home rowing machine into a clothes hanger.

Instead, give yourself a clean slate and make a plan for how you’re going to get back on track. Like TODAY.


How to Get Back Into Working Out

Ease Into It:

If it’s been a while, make sure you ease into it. Just because you USED to work out for 60 minutes a day, 6 days a week doesn’t mean you can or should after a long layoff (or at all). Set yourself up to be successful: Aim to move 2-3 days a week for a few weeks, then build from there.

Do it until it’s so easy it’s automatic. Then move on.


Add the Element of Accountability:

Then, once you have your plan in place, tell someone about it. A real, live person you know is spectacular, but failing that Facebook or another social media platform is an excellent alternative.

Just be sure you declare it “out loud,” and ask people to check in with you from time to time. Accountability is key, and it’s harder to hide when you announce your intentions to the world!


Be patient!

You didn’t get out of shape or put on 10 lbs. in a week, you’re not going to reverse those quickly, either. All the more reason to make changes slowly and sustainably so that the effort doesn’t suck the life out of you.

The older we get, the longer it takes to see progress in fitness and nutrition. You might as well make it a ride you can enjoy.



3 Rowing Machine Workouts to Jump-Start Your Restart

One of the great things about the rowing machine is it meets you where you are, regardless of your current fitness level.

Since the rowing machine is an ergometer, you are always in control of how hard it is to row. The harder you push-pull, the harder it will be to do so, and vice versa. A little variety doesn’t hurt to keep you consistent either.

So to start you back on the right track, here are three rowing workouts, all different styles. They showcase the three formats we typically use in our UCanRow2 Bodyshop classes: Erg (aka rowing machine, SkiErg or BikeErg) only, erg with bodyweight, and erg with equipment.

They’re all great and will give you a fantastic sweat. You decide which one works best for you!

NOTE: Warm up well before each workout, keeping in mind the axiom: “The shorter the workout, the longer the warmup.” Also because Safety First and Do No Harm are our guiding principles: The workouts we post here are intended for people with at least some rowing experience.



Row intervals of 1-2-3-3-2-1 mins. (total 6 rounds), with the same amount of rest on each round. Total time for the workout (without warmup or cooldown) is 24 minutes.

Start each round with a few short strokes to get going and build to your rating. Each piece (interval) should be done at 80 percent of your max, where you’re rowing at a pace at which you can talk but you’d rather not.

Aim for a stroke rating between 24 and 28 strokes per minute. Use how you feel to determine what stroke rating to hold.

Your goal is to maintain the same split within about 5 seconds on each round. If you find you can’t talk, you’re going too hard!

Make it easier: Back off on the intensity, or lower your stroke rating
Make it harder: Work to take 5-10 seconds off your split on each round



AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) 20 mins of:
Row 500m
10 lunges
10 push-ups
10 burpees / step-ups
8 thrusters / squats
25 jumping jacks
3 broad jumps

Make it easier: Lower intensity on the row / reduce the number of off-erg moves or do the scaled options – the second choice when there are two listed
Make it harder: Increase intensity on the erg, up the workout time by 5-10 mins.



4 rounds, descending pyramid:
Row 1 minute
In between do 12-9-7-5 repetitions of:
TRX or weighted squats / air squats
Push press
KB swings

Make it easier: Eliminate the exercises on the last round, instead ending with the 4th row as a sprint
Make it harder: Add a round of 15 repetitions at the beginning


Give them a try! For more great workout ideas, check out 101 Best Rowing Workouts. Also available on eBook.



Sarah Fuhrmann is one of the leading voices in the rowing community. Her company UCanRow2 brings the power of indoor rowing to exercisers and fitness professionals worldwide.