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 could make. For most people who are used to running on a treadmill or pedaling an elliptical trainer, this can be an intimidating experience.

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 likes to look like a fool especially in a public gym with lots of other fitness buffs around.

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 fitness gear 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 seek information on the best rowing techniques can be very important.

Many of us prefer audiovisual material to reading these days so the fact 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 is refreshing to know.

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

Lots of injuries can be eliminated while also preventing harmful techniques that can be difficult to stop from being a part of you in the first place.

Education, Education, and Education

Do you have any idea what beneficial stretches are? Or how to feel super comfortable on the indoor rower?

How about the importance of the damper settings on your machine? Or which breathing exercises are more effective for rowing?

As a beginner, there are lots of important stuff that can contribute to your long-term success and it is important to know them even before getting on a rowing machine for the first time.

If you invest in an elite model such as Concept 2 Rowing Machine, make sure you pay attention to the Rowing Techniques Manual included in the shipment.

Keep an Eye on Your 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. Make sure you record all your performance levels throughout the year and go over it regularly to find out how much you are improving, if any at all.

Concept 2 offers an Online Logbook and lots of public challenges throughout the year to help customers find out how much they can push their bodies to the limit.

Partner Up

partner up during rowing

If you are constantly training alone with no accountability to another party, it can be easy to give up. This is especially true when trying new routines that can be hard on the body in the beginning.

Fortunately, some third party apps allow users to find training partners all over the globe. You can then track each other’s progress even if you live tens of thousands of miles apart.

Start Slow

One of the biggest temptations for beginner rowers is to attempt to pound the machine with intensity right from Day One. However, your priority should be perfecting the right technique while ironing out how to keep your rowing pace steady.

7 Best Beginner Indoor Rower Workouts

There are hundreds of indoor rowing machine workouts available. However, it is important to focus on the right technique first before gradually building up to more advanced workout routines.

Workout 1

Your very first workout on a rowing machine should last up to 5 minutes. After that, take a break, stretch the body, and walk for a few minutes.

If there are no burning pains and you feel up to the task, you can do about 3 more cycles of 5-minute sessions before calling it a day.

Workout 2

This is the point where it is recommended for rowers to begin experimenting with power output and stroke rate. Just look for the Stroke Rate and Power Output readings on your LCD monitor.

Depending on the type of indoor rower you own, power output may be measured in pace, Watts, or calories. Here is the workout plan in detail.

  • Row comfortably for 3 minutes at 20 strokes per minute
  • Rest for a minute
  • Row harder for 3 minutes at 22 strokes per minute
  • Rest for a minute
  • Row harder for 3 minutes at 24 strokes per minute
  • Rest for a minute
  • Row comfortably for 3 minutes at 24 strokes per minute
  • Rest for a minute
  • Choose and take note of any preferred stroke rate and row for 10 minutes at a steady state.
  • Note your preferred steady state row rate because it will be referenced in the next workout plan.

Workout 3

This workout allows beginners to row for longer at varying stroke rates. Let’s see what it entails.

  • Repeat 4 cycles of 5-minute rowing sessions at different stroke rates. Make sure you start off from a stroke rate that is at least a few seconds ahead of the steady state rate employed in the Workout 2.

For instance, if the figure was 20 strokes per minute, then follow this routine for each 5-minute cycle.

  • 22 strokes per minute for the initial 2 minutes
  • 24 strokes per minute for the next 2 minutes
  • 26 strokes per minute for the final minute
  • Get some rest by rowing easily for 2 minutes before repeating your next 5 minute session

Workout 4

Once you have mastered the ability to row at different strokes per minute over time, the next step is to introduce rowing at a steady pace for a longer period of time.

  • Row continuously at a pace that falls between the 2nd and 3rd workouts for 10 minutes straight
  • Rest for 3 minutes by rowing at a slow pace
  • Repeat step 1
  • Always make sure you choose a stroke rate between 20 and 24

Workout 5

The next step in powering your body to fitness is to learn the fastest rate at which you can row.

  • Row at your hardest intensity for 1 minute straight
  • Row easy for a minute to get some rest
  • Repeat the cycle for the next 20 minutes
  • Make sure you keep your eyes firmly on the performance monitor and try to aim for a rate between 20-24 strokes per minute
  • After each workout session, make sure your pace is recorded

Method 6

When you are short on time, high intensity interval rowing routines can be a powerful way to keep your fitness in check. This workout is for users who have perfected the first routines indicated above and hopefully improved their formula.

  • Row for 2 minutes at a pace of 26 -32 strokes per minute
  • Row easy for another 2 minutes to get some rest
  • Repeat the cycle 4 or 5 more times
  • Once you are done, get up from the rower and stretch for at least 2 minutes

Method 7

Method 7 involves combining the previous 2 workout routines and can be a powerful way to transform beginners to intermediates.

  • Row hard at 20-22 strokes per minute for 60 seconds
  • Take a 60-second rest by rowing easy
  • Crank things up by rowing hard again at a faster rate of 26-32 strokes per minute for 2 minutes
  • Row easy while resting for another 2 minutes
  • Repeat the cycle 5-6 times


Following the workout steps outlined above can do wonders for your body no matter which individual goals you may have.

As long as you have a powerful indoor rower at home, you should see significant results within a few weeks.