How to Create a Rowing Machine Workout Program


Rowing machines offer a combination of muscular and cardiovascular exercise options, as well as a total-body workout. While older rowing machines used components that simulated boat oars to help you pull your body weight, newer models rely on cables to move you back and forth. Whichever machine you use, you can create specific workouts to meet your fitness goal.

Step 1

Determine what type of workout program you want: muscle building, muscular endurance, aerobic or sprint training.

Step 2

Stretch properly before beginning any type of rowing machine exercise to help prevent back stress and muscle injury.

Step 3

Experiment on the machine with little or no resistance to see how the machine works and how different hand placements and pulls affect different muscles. Experiment with technique and monitor how the exercises and movements place stress on your back.

Step 4

Create a muscle-building program by increasing the resistance setting on the machine to at or near your maximum. Perform five to eight reps before switching exercises. Repeat each set three to five times. Give your muscles at least one day to recover and regenerate.

Step 5

Create a muscular endurance workout by reducing the resistance until you can perform 10 to 15 repetitions per set before fatigue. To create a circuit training workout, take one-minute breaks between sets as you change exercises during a 30-minute workout.

Step 6

Create an aerobic workout by setting the resistance at a level that allows you to work at a vigorous intensity for at least 15 minutes, with an ultimate goal of working at this level for 30 minutes or longer. You should be able to talk during this type of workout.

Step 7

Create a sprint, or interval, training workout by decreasing resistance so you can work at near-maximum intensity for 30 seconds or longer. If you are new to sprint training, work at a higher intensity than you used for your aerobic workouts and “sprint” for 30 seconds with a 90-second recovery. If you are more fit, you can go for 90 seconds with a two-minute recovery.

Step 8

Cool down after any workout by using slower movements as you lower your heart rate to less than 100 beats per minute. Stretch after each workout to help decrease stiffness and soreness later, and to improve flexibility.

About this Author

Sam Ellyn has been writing since 1983 for national and regional sports, fitness, business and parenting magazines. He writes and lectures on fitness, nutrition, sports, business, cooking, beauty and home and garden, and works in magazine consulting and association management. He worked in commercial kitchens for more than 20 years, and holds two journalism degrees.