Best Crossfit Rowing Workouts: Top 9 in 2023

In order to keep our content free, we may earn a commission from the companies mentioned in this post.

The CrossFit training methodology, with its emphasis on high-intensity, functional movements, has revolutionized the fitness world, and the rowing machine has become a staple within the CrossFit community. It’s a superb tool for enhancing cardiovascular endurance, building strength, and aiding weight loss. This article will delve into the world of CrossFit rowing machine workouts, providing a comprehensive overview of nine effective exercises, the correct rowing techniques for CrossFit, and tips to maximize your CrossFit workouts.

My 9 Favorite CrossFit Rowing Machine Workouts

a woman does a crossfit rowing workout

1. The Classic 2000 Meter Row

  • Objective: Row 2000 meters as fast as possible
  • Primary focus: Endurance, mental strength
  • Time commitment: 7-10 minutes

The Classic 2000 Meter Row is one of the benchmark workouts in rowing. It’s all about pushing your limits and challenging your endurance. The aim is simple but demanding: row 2000 meters in the shortest time possible. This workout can help you gauge your fitness level, with elite rowers often completing the distance in around 6-7 minutes.

2. The Interval Row

  • Objective: High-intensity intervals
  • Primary focus: Cardiovascular fitness
  • Time commitment: Approximately 20 minutes

The Interval Row is an intense workout where you row as hard as you can for one minute and then rest for one minute. This alternation of high-intensity bursts with periods of rest helps increase your heart rate variability, improve cardiovascular health, and burn fat. The goal is to maintain a high stroke rate during the intense periods and to control your breath during the rest intervals.

3. The Pyramid Workout

  • Objective: Steadily increase and then decrease rowing duration
  • Primary focus: Stamina, aerobic capacity
  • Time commitment: Approximately 27 minutes

The Pyramid Workout involves a gradual increase in rowing duration, reaching a peak, and then reducing the rowing duration, just like a pyramid.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Rowing Machine Workout Plan PDF

This incremental increase in effort allows your body to adapt to the increasing intensity, enhancing your aerobic fitness and stamina. It’s a challenging yet satisfying workout that requires mental fortitude to keep pushing through each stage.

4. The Sprints and Holds

  • Objective: Alternating sprints and holds
  • Primary focus: Cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance
  • Time commitment: 20 minutes

The Sprints and Holds workout alternates between high-intensity sprints and slower ‘holds.’ The idea is to exert maximum effort during the 30-second sprints, then transition to a slow and steady pace during the 30-second hold. This alternation of fast and slow intervals keeps your body guessing and your heart rate high, optimizing calorie burn.

5. The Long Steady Row

  • Objective: Low-intensity, long-duration row
  • Primary focus: Aerobic base, endurance
  • Time commitment: Approximately 40-60 minutes

The Long Steady Row workout is designed for those who want to build their aerobic base or enjoy a recovery workout. You’ll row a steady 10,000 meters at a comfortable pace. While this workout may not be as physically intense as some of the others, it demands mental endurance to maintain a consistent pace for an extended period.

6. Calorie Countdown

  • Objective: Burn a specific number of calories
  • Primary focus: Cardiovascular fitness, calorie burn
  • Time commitment: Varies depending on fitness level

The Calorie Countdown is a unique workout where the objective is to burn calories, not cover distance. Starting with a target of 20 calories, you row until you reach the target, rest for 60 seconds, then aim for 19 calories. This pattern continues, reducing the target by one calorie each round until you reach zero. It’s a fun, goal-oriented way to stay engaged and motivated during your workout.

7. The Distance Dashes

  • Objective: High-intensity short-distance rows
  • Primary focus: Power, speed
  • Time commitment: Approximately 15-20 minutes

In the Distance Dashes, you complete rounds of rowing varying short distances – 500, 400, 300, 200, and 100 meters, with a minute of rest between each round. The goal is to complete each round as quickly as possible, testing your power and speed. This workout will leave you breathless and can help improve your rowing efficiency and power output.

8. The Power Strokes

  • Objective: Powerful, fast pulls
  • Primary focus: Strength, power
  • Time commitment: Approximately 20 minutes

The Power Strokes workout is all about exerting maximum effort with each stroke. Following a warm-up, you’ll complete ten rounds of ten power strokes (hard, fast pulls) followed by ten easy strokes. This workout emphasizes the ‘power’ component of rowing, strengthening your back, core, and leg muscles.

9. The Rowing ‘Fran’

  • Objective: Alternating rowing with thrusters
  • Primary focus: Full-body strength, endurance
  • Time commitment: Approximately 15-20 minutes

The Rowing ‘Fran’ is an adaptation of the famous CrossFit ‘Fran’ workout. It involves three rounds of rowing for 21, 15, and 9 calories, each interspersed with thrusters (a combination of a front squat into a press). This full-body workout not only tests your rowing endurance but also your strength and coordination, making it a formidable challenge.

Proper Rowing Technique for CrossFit

Best Rower for 2023
hydrow square

Hydrow: Our Top-Rated Rower

  • Amazing Connected Rowing Experience
  • Motivating Instructors and Classes
  • Row Scenic Waterways Around the World
  • Live + On Demand Workouts
  • Large Library of Off The Rower Workouts
  • Two Models to Pick From
  • Modern and Sleek Design
  • 30-Day Risk-Free Trial 

Understanding and executing proper rowing technique is essential for optimizing performance and preventing injury. Here are the basics:

  1. The Catch: Start at the front of the machine with knees bent, shins vertical, and arms reaching forward to grab the handle.
  2. The Drive: Initiate the movement by pushing with your legs, then lean back slightly and pull the handle to your lower ribs. Your legs should be almost extended before your arms begin to pull.
  3. The Finish: At the end of the drive, your legs should be fully extended, your back slightly reclined, and the handle close to your lower ribs.
  4. The Recovery: Reverse the sequence to return to the catch position. Extend your arms, hinge forward from the hips, and then bend your knees.

Tips for Making The Most of Your CrossFit Workouts

a woman focuses on her form while on the rowing machine

Maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your CrossFit rowing workouts can significantly boost your overall performance and results. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your CrossFit workouts:

1. Focus on Form

Form is the foundation of any exercise. Proper rowing form ensures that you’re efficiently using your energy and engaging the correct muscles while minimizing the risk of injury. Make sure to pay attention to the order of operations in your rowing stroke – legs first, then back, then arms, and the reverse order for the recovery.

2. Pace Yourself

Many CrossFit workouts involve a mix of different exercises, and rowing is often one part of a larger workout. Make sure you pace yourself, especially during longer workouts.

RELATED READING: Top HIIT Workouts for the Rowing Machine

Going out too hard can lead to early exhaustion and slower overall times. It’s better to start at a sustainable pace and then ramp up your effort toward the end if you’re feeling good.

3. Use Your Legs

Rowing is primarily a leg-driven exercise. While the arms and back play a role, about 60% of the power in a rowing stroke comes from the legs. Push hard with your legs on each stroke and minimize the work done by your arms and back.

4. Breathe

Breathing is crucial in rowing, just as it is in any other exercise. Make sure you’re not holding your breath. A good rule of thumb is to exhale during the hard part of the stroke (the drive) and inhale during the recovery.

5. Consistency is Key

Like any fitness regimen, you’ll see the best results from consistent practice. Try to incorporate rowing into your CrossFit workouts regularly. You’ll improve your rowing form and efficiency over time, leading to better performance in your workouts.

6. Monitor Your Metrics

Use the metrics on your rowing machine to monitor your progress. Pay attention to your split times (how long it takes you to row 500 meters), your stroke rate (strokes per minute), and your power output. These metrics can help you gauge your performance and progress over time.

7. Engage Your Core

Your core muscles are essential for maintaining good posture during the rowing stroke and for transferring power from your legs to your upper body. Engage your core during each stroke and ensure you’re sitting up tall with a straight back.

8. Rest and Recover

Rest days are essential for muscle recovery and growth. Make sure you’re giving your body ample time to rest and recover after intense workouts.

RELATED: The Best 10 Minute Workouts for Rowing Machines

This not only helps to prevent overtraining and injury but also ensures you’re in top form for your next workout.

9. Fuel Your Body

Proper nutrition can make a big difference in your performance and recovery. Ensure you’re fueling your body with the right nutrients before and after workouts. This should ideally include a balance of protein for muscle recovery, carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for satiety.

By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can enhance the effectiveness of your CrossFit rowing workouts and get one step closer to your fitness goals.

Final Thoughts

The rowing machine is a versatile tool that can complement your CrossFit training regimen. Whether you’re looking to build strength, improve endurance, or lose weight, these nine CrossFit rowing machine workouts offer varied ways to challenge yourself. Remember, proper form and technique are crucial to get the most out of your workouts and to prevent injuries. With persistence, dedication, and proper training, you can achieve your fitness goals and experience the benefits that the CrossFit rowing machine workouts can bring.