Rowing Machine Workout Plan

Man exercising on a rowing machine in a gym.
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A rowing machine offers an excellent all-around workout. Not only does it provide an excellent cardiovascular exercise, but it also involves strength and resistance training in your arms, shoulders, legs, hips and core as you go through the rowing motion. The rowing machine is low-impact and it is less likely to lead to injuries associated with some weightlifting exercises.

Step 1

Do warm-up exercises before you get on your rowing machine. You don't have to work to exhaustion, but make sure you have broken a bit of a sweat before you begin your workout. For example, you could perform 20 push-ups and 30 sit-ups before you get on the rowing machine.


Step 2

Begin at your own pace. You will be able to set your own resistance on the rowing machine, and if you are not used to the activity, you need to set it on the low side. Most machines allow you to set a resistance level from 1 to 10. When beginning your rowing machine workout plan, start with a resistance of 2 or 3. On many machines you also can set your distance. Start at about 150 to 200 yards before challenging yourself further.

Step 3

Increase your speed by the time you get to your second week of workouts on the rowing machine. You can increase resistance and change your speed by adjusting the strokes-per-minute (SPM) ratio. Combine an increase in strokes per minute -- start at 20 SPM and increase to 25 in the first month--along with an increase in distance. Once you get up to 1,000 yards on the rowing machine, you will be starting to reach your target heart rate for this piece of equipment.


Step 4

Increase your resistance and speed as you grow more comfortable on the rowing machine. Once you are able to row 1,500 meters on your machine, your resistance should be up to the 7 or 8 level. Increase the SPM level up to 30 and strive to get to 35 or higher as the weeks progress.


Slow down the final two minutes of your workout in order to cool down and give your body a chance to recover gradually rather than just stop cold at the end of your workout. This will help you avoid pulled muscles and other injuries.


Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.