7 Rowing Machine Workouts for Beginners


gym bunnies rowing in a group

Getting on an indoor rower for consistent workouts is one of the smartest fitness decisions you can make. For most people who are used to just jumping on a treadmill or elliptical trainer, this can be an intimidating experience, as few of us are taught how to properly row.

However, knowing the best rowing machine workout routines before your first rowing session can make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding.

After all, no one wants to look like a fool in a public gym full of fitness buffs, which is also why we've gathered a short list of best affordable rowing machines to use at home.

Rowing Machine Exercises for Beginners

These are the most important tips every beginner needs to know before jumping on an indoor rower for the first time. This will put you on the right path towards getting what this powerful workout has to offer.

The Basics

Rowing is not rocket science and as intimidating as the experience may be for a beginner, anyone can learn to do it successfully.

Once the basics are covered, reaching your most ambitious fitness goals will be within reach.

The Proper Technique

the Sunny Health & Fitness ASUNA 4500 Magnetic Rowing Machine in full glory

What is the best rowing technique? Before your first rowing session, taking the time to learn the best rowing techniques is critical. Without the proper form, instead of getting the desired full-body workout, your rowing session will turn into a week-long back ache.

Many of us prefer videos to reading these days so it's refreshing to know that popular brands such as Concept 2 have several videos of the best techniques that can be adopted to gain maximum benefits from your rowing sessions.

Remember, the right rowing techniques enhance your ability to work out quicker and more efficiently over time.

Injuries can be eliminated while also preventing harmful techniques that can be difficult to stop once learned.

Track Your Rowing Progress

image showing the dashboard of the Model D Rower

Tracking your progress should be a part of your workout regimen no matter which machine you use. Be sure to record all your workout statistics for each sessions and compare to your prior workouts to find your progress.

For starting out, the main statistics to track for your rowing workout will be the day of your workout, distance rowed, time and resistance level or total watts. It's important to note that recording only the time and distance will dis-incentivize you to increase the resistance, which will likely limit your calories burned during workout and your progress, so it's important to track the resistance level as well.

Once you find yourself hitting a plateau in your rowing workouts, you can also start recording information like time of day exercised, how much sleep you got the night before, and what you ate in the 3 hours up to your workout.

The following are a few good resources for tracking your rowing workouts:

  1. Pen and paper - though it seems like a dated method, several gym-goers find this to be the most effective way in following through in tracking workouts.
  2. Smartphone app - search google or the app store on your phone and you will find tens (dare I say hundreds??) of applications that allow you to track your workout metrics. Several of these require a subscription, but there are some that are free. My favorite is JEFIT, which has a free version that works great for this. They also have a premium program that gives you access to professionally-planned workout programs,
  3. Online website - if you spend more time on your computer than your phone, then you may be more likely to track your progress in your internet browser. One good resource is Concept 2, which offers an Online Logbook and tons of public challenges throughout the year to help users push their body to the limit. Another good resource that allows you to track your progress online is Bodybuilding.com
  4. Smartwatch - this may be the most convenient option if you already have a fitness smartwatch. Not only are you not asked to pull out your phone or notebook in the middle of your workout, but the right device will actually record your workout for you, saving you the hassle of writing down your distance, calories and time. Here is a great article on the best smartwatches to track your workout right now.

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