Endlessly I hear “I don’t have time to work out” – learn to row.  If you’re not sweating within 10 minutes then you must be stronger than Matthew Pinsent!  To give you an idea you should be aiming to row 2km in 8 minutes (women) under 7 minutes (men).   It doesn’t matter what you start at, I just want this to be your goal to aim for.  But first, let’s learn to use the rowing machine properly.  I am yet to see anyone at my gym use the rowing machine correctly.  Not only do I fear for injuries but you are wasting energy and effort if your technique isn’t correct.  By improving your technique you’ll knock seconds and maybe even minutes off your time.  So over to the former President of my rowing club Eton Excelsior, Steve Morle to learn how to row.

Main Focus:

To get the most out of your rowing workout:

  • Focus on your split time (at 1:58 in video).  This is the big number on the screen which tells you how fast you row 500m.  This number should be consistent through out your work out.  If you see this number raising, recenter yourself and dig deep to find the extra energy. As your fitness improves this number will get lower.  To give you an idea when I started rowing my split time was 2:25.  With in a couple months I had it down to 2:18 then I finally got it down to 2:00!!!!
  • Don’t think you need to row fast and get high rpms (2:35 in video).  Even if you are only rowing 20rpm your split time should still be consistent if you were rowing faster.
  • Focus on your technique!!! (3:34 in video) I can’t stress this enough.  You don’t want to injure yourself and your losing seconds off your time – which really count. Especially if you have a competition running with your friends like I do.
  • Straight Back (5:25 in video)
  • Breathe!!!!!
  • Sweat!  (the whole video)
  • Set yourself targets. It’s a mental game as much as a physical one.  If you want to row 2km in 8 minutes then keep track of your improvements and keep you determined. You can also break this up in to 4 sets of 500m and have a 30-60 second rest in between each set.  Before you know it you’ll be able to piece them all together to make 2km.

Learn to row: Rowing exercises.

1. Only have 10-20 minutes to exercise?  Row 2km in 8  minutes (women). Under 7 minutes (men)

2. Looking at your SMPs we are going to do what is called a pyramid.   Row at: 20 SPM for 4 minutes, 22 SPM for 4 minutes 24 SPM for 2 minutes 26 SPM for 1 minute.  Then we are going to do the same in reverse. 24 SPM for 2 minutes, 22 SPM for 4 minutes, 20 SPM for 4 minutes.  Remember to keep your split time (what you row 500m in) consistent through out.

3. Fancy yourself more of a sprinter than an endurance individual?  Row 6 sets of 500m resting for 60 seconds in between sets.  You can set this up on the display so it counts down your rests for you, ask a gym employee to show you how.  Again, try to keep your split time consistent through each set.  You can set yourself a chosen SPM.  You could chose to row slow and controled at 24 SPM or maybe a bit quicker but still controlled at 28 SPM.

Breathe! Sweat! Have fun!  And to give you an idea of how hard you should work – I’ve never been able to stand up right away after a rowing session.  You should be sitting there pulling yourself together after!!! xo