HIIT Rowing Machine Workouts: 7 Best for 2023

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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an exercise method renowned for its effectiveness in boosting cardiovascular fitness, increasing endurance, and promoting weight loss. When combined with the full-body exertion of a rowing machine, HIIT workouts can be a powerhouse for improving overall fitness.

This combination delivers a compelling blend of resistance and aerobic training, engaging nearly every muscle group, and offering a robust cardiorespiratory challenge. If you’re looking to ramp up your fitness regimen with HIIT rowing workouts, you’ve landed in the right place. In this article, we delve into seven impactful HIIT rowing machine workouts and share invaluable tips to maximize your results.

My 7 Favorite HIIT Rowing Machine Workouts

a man does a HIIT workout on a rowing machine

Workout 1: Classic 20-Minute HIIT

The Classic 20-Minute HIIT is a fundamental introduction to the world of high-intensity interval training. This workout helps create a strong foundation for your fitness, focusing on consistent and intense bursts of energy.

  1. Warm up for 3-5 minutes with light rowing.
  2. For 20 seconds, row as hard and fast as you can.
  3. Slow down and row gently for 40 seconds.
  4. Repeat this high-intensity and recovery sequence for a total of 20 minutes.

As simple as this routine might seem, it’s all about harnessing the power of your muscles for a short period, followed by a longer period of recovery.

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This cyclical pattern helps in conditioning your body to recover faster and prepare for the next burst of high-intensity activity. When rowing, try to maintain a steady rhythm and make sure to engage your core and lower body, rather than relying solely on your upper body strength.

Workout 2: Pyramid Power

The Pyramid Power workout is designed to test and build your stamina. By gradually increasing your high-intensity intervals, you’ll push your body to adapt to longer periods of exertion.

  1. Warm up with light rowing for 5 minutes.
  2. Row hard for 30 seconds, then rest by rowing gently for 30 seconds.
  3. Gradually increase your high-intensity rowing time by 30 seconds each round until you reach 2 minutes.
  4. After peaking at 2 minutes, reverse the process, reducing your high-intensity intervals by 30 seconds each round until you’re back to 30 seconds.
  5. Cool down with a 5-minute light row.

This pyramid structure lets you experience a gradual buildup of intensity, allowing your body time to adjust and adapt. With each increase, you challenge your cardiovascular system a bit more, promoting enhanced endurance and stamina. As you climb down the pyramid, your body gets the chance to recover, even as it continues to work, thereby enhancing overall conditioning.

Workout 3: Progressive Overload

In the world of fitness, progressive overload is a cornerstone principle. Applying it to your HIIT rowing sessions can yield incredible results over time.

  1. Warm up with 3-5 minutes of easy rowing.
  2. Start with 20 seconds of high-intensity rowing followed by 40 seconds of light rowing.
  3. Increase the high-intensity interval by 5 seconds each round while decreasing your rest period by 5 seconds.
  4. Once you reach a high-intensity interval of 60 seconds with a 20-second rest, start the process over.
  5. Perform this sequence for 20-30 minutes.

By gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts and reducing the rest periods, you’re pushing your body to adapt to increased demands, thereby fostering endurance and strength. Consistent progression is vital here. It can be challenging, but the key is to listen to your body and balance pushing your limits with respecting your body’s need for recovery.

Workout 4: Tabata Style Rowing

Tabata is a powerful and popular form of HIIT. It’s all about explosive, high-intensity work followed by a very brief rest period, repeated multiple times.

  1. Warm up for 5 minutes with easy rowing.
  2. Row as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then row lightly for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat this cycle for 4 minutes (8 rounds).
  4. Rest for 1 minute.
  5. Complete this entire sequence 4-5 times.

The short duration of Tabata-style workouts can be deceiving. However, with its intense bursts of exercise and minimal recovery periods, it delivers a potent workout that boosts cardiovascular health and muscular endurance. Although it’s challenging, the idea is to push as hard as you can for those 20-second intervals to reap maximum benefits.

Workout 5: Calorie Crusher

The Calorie Crusher workout is perfect if you’re looking to optimize your workout for calorie burning. This workout focuses on achieving maximum energy output in a given time frame.

  1. Warm up for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Row for 30 seconds at high-intensity, aiming to burn as many calories as possible.
  3. Rest for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat this pattern for 15-20 minutes.

By focusing on calorie expenditure, this workout is particularly useful for individuals targeting weight loss or improved fitness.

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Be sure to give your all during the high-intensity periods to maximize calorie burn. And remember, burning calories doesn’t end with the workout; HIIT stimulates post-exercise oxygen consumption, which means you continue to burn calories even after you stop rowing.

Workout 6: Distance Challenge

The Distance Challenge workout is designed to test and build your speed and endurance. It adds a fun element of competition against yourself.

  1. Warm up for 5 minutes with light rowing.
  2. Set a goal distance for high-intensity intervals, such as 200 meters.
  3. Row at high-intensity until you reach your set distance, then rest with light rowing for the same time it took you to reach your distance.
  4. Repeat this cycle for 20 minutes.

This workout is all about challenging yourself to cover more distance in less time. It gives you a clear goal to aim for and allows you to track your progress over time. As you get more comfortable, you can increase the target distance or aim to cover the same distance in less time.

Workout 7: Heart Rate Riser

The Heart Rate Riser workout adds a new element to your HIIT routine – heart rate monitoring.

  1. Warm up for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Row at high-intensity until your heart rate reaches 85-90% of your maximum heart rate.
  3. Slow down and row lightly until your heart rate drops to around 70% of your maximum.
  4. Repeat this cycle for 20-30 minutes.

This workout takes into account the most important muscle of all – your heart. It’s designed to improve your cardiovascular health and enhance your body’s ability to recover quickly. This workout requires a heart rate monitor to accurately track your effort levels. Always remember, the key to improving fitness lies in the balance between work and recovery.

Tips for Making The Most of Your HIIT Workouts

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HIIT is an excellent way to maximize your workout efficiency, but to get the most out of your training, consider the following tips:

  1. Prioritize Form: Ensuring that you maintain good form during your workouts is crucial. For rowing, this means maintaining a straight back, using your legs for power, engaging your core, and using your arms for the final pull. Poor form can lead to injury and less effective workouts. If you’re new to rowing, it may be beneficial to have a trainer assess your form or to watch instructional videos to ensure you’re performing the movements correctly.
  2. Consistency is Key: Like any exercise, regularity is essential. Incorporating HIIT rowing workouts into your routine 2-3 times a week can yield significant results. It’s not about how hard you can go in one session, but about your commitment to consistently showing up for your workouts. Remember that progress may be slow, but consistency will lead to improvement over time.
  3. Proper Recovery: Because of the intensity of HIIT workouts, your body needs time to repair and rebuild muscles after each session. This means getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a balanced diet. Include rest days in your exercise routine, or consider engaging in lower-intensity activities, like yoga or walking, on your off days. Listen to your body and provide it with the rest it needs.
  4. Fuel Your Body: Your diet plays a crucial role in your ability to perform and recover from your workouts. Eat balanced meals that include protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Before a workout, opt for a light meal or snack to ensure you have enough energy to power through. After your workout, try to eat a meal or snack with protein to aid in muscle recovery.
  5. Monitor Your Progress: Tracking your workouts can help keep you motivated and allow you to see your progress over time. Consider using a fitness tracker or the rowing machine’s built-in computer to track your distance, calories burned, and heart rate. Not only can this help you monitor your improvement, but it can also help you adjust your workouts to ensure they remain challenging.

Remember, everyone’s fitness journey is different. What works best for one person might not work as well for another. The key is to find a routine and habits that work for you and align with your personal fitness goals. Be patient with yourself, and celebrate your progress along the way.

Focus on the Proper Rowing Technique

Proper technique is crucial in rowing to maximize effectiveness and prevent injury. The rowing stroke is a coordinated muscle action that comprises four main movements: the catch, drive, finish, and recovery.

  1. Catch: Begin with knees bent, shins vertical, and arms reaching forward to grab the handle.
  2. Drive: Push with your legs first, lean back slightly at the hips once your legs are extended, and then pull the handle to your lower ribs with your arms.
  3. Finish: At the end of the drive, your legs should be extended, the handle should be held lightly at your lower ribs, and your torso leaned back slightly.
  4. Recovery: Extend your arms back out, hinge forward from the hips, and then bend your knees to glide forward to the next catch.

Remember to power the stroke with your legs and use your arms and core to complete the motion.

Why Rowing is a Great HIIT Workout

a woman rows while focusing on proper technique

When it comes to HIIT workouts, few machines can compare to the total body engagement and versatility offered by a rowing machine. Here are some compelling reasons why rowing is a fantastic choice for your HIIT workouts:

  1. Full Body Workout: Unlike other cardio machines like the treadmill or stationary bike, which primarily focus on your lower body, rowing provides a comprehensive full-body workout. With each stroke, you engage your legs, core, and upper body, which includes major muscle groups like quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, shoulders, and arms. This total body involvement leads to a higher calorie burn and a more efficient workout.
  2. Cardiovascular and Muscular Endurance: The beauty of rowing lies in its unique blend of cardio and strength training. The high-intensity intervals of a HIIT workout improve your cardiovascular health, increasing your heart’s strength and efficiency. At the same time, the resistance provided by the rowing machine during these intense bursts helps build muscular endurance and strength.
  3. Low Impact: One of the most significant benefits of rowing is that it’s a low-impact exercise. This means it’s easier on your joints than high-impact activities like running or plyometrics, making it a fantastic option for those with joint concerns or those who are in the recovery phase of an injury. Despite being low impact, it doesn’t compromise on intensity, allowing you to get a robust workout that’s kind on your body.
  4. Adaptable to All Fitness Levels: Whether you’re a beginner just stepping into the world of fitness or an experienced athlete looking for a challenging workout, rowing can cater to all fitness levels. The intensity of your workout is largely determined by your own effort, meaning you can adjust your speed and resistance to align with your current fitness level and goals.
  5. Variety and Versatility: With rowing, there’s no room for boredom. You can switch up your workouts by adjusting the intensity, duration, and type of intervals, keeping your routine fresh and exciting. Whether it’s a Tabata style workout, long endurance rows, or incorporating rowing into a circuit, the possibilities are endless.
  6. Mental Toughness: Rowing not only builds your physical strength but also enhances mental resilience. The challenging nature of HIIT workouts on a rower requires focus, determination, and the ability to push through discomfort. Over time, this can improve mental toughness, which is beneficial not only in your workouts but also in daily life.

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Incorporating rowing into your HIIT regime can thus offer immense benefits. It’s an efficient, versatile, and impactful way to improve overall fitness.

Final Thoughts

Implementing HIIT rowing workouts into your fitness routine can be a game-changer. These workouts offer a unique combination of cardiovascular and strength benefits, contributing to improved overall fitness. As you embark on this fitness journey, remember the importance of proper technique, consistency, and recovery. Happy rowing!