Best Rowing Machine Workout Plan for Beginners

Last Updated on November 2, 2021 by Sam Corbin

rowing workouts for beginners

Want to learn how to use a rowing machine correctly?

This detailed rowing machine workout for beginners is going to provide you with a foundation moving forward. Take the program listed below and incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Beginner’s Rowing Machine Workout Plan

3-Day Rotations (Spread Across a Week)

  • Strength and Resistance Rowing Workout
  • Cardio Rowing Workout
  • Speed Rowing Workout

1. Strength and Resistance Rowing Workout (Monday, Friday)

Your week is going to begin with the meat of your workout because this will always come after a “rest” day.

The Strength and Resistance Rowing Workout is all about putting your body to the test at a higher resistance level. You are going to want to set the resistance to a level that is going to be hard to push against for more than 30 minutes.

Along with improving your cardio, you are also going to start strengthening your core muscles. Over the long haul, it is these resistance-type workouts that are going to have a major impact on your fitness and physique.

To do this the right way, you are going to begin the session at a high resistance level (60-70% of your max) and then start building a rhythm. You are going to do this for 30 minutes in 1-2 minute bursts depending on what your heart can handle.

For example, you will do 1-2 minutes of hardcore rowing and then 1 minute of slow-paced rowing before doing it all over again until the 30 minutes are up.

By the end of the workout, you are going to realize what an intense rowing workout is all about as a beginner!

2. Cardio Rowing Workout (Tuesday, Saturday)

After an intense workout the previous day, your body is still going to be aching a little bit. As a result, it is time to ramp things down a bit and start focusing on your endurance.

How are you going to do this using a rowing machine?

The goal is to set the resistance level at 40% of your max and then aim to complete a 45-60 minute session. This is going to be done at an even pace without going too slow or too fast. It’s all about creating a rhythm and maintaining it for the duration of your rowing session.

When done the right way, you are going to notice the endurance improving after each session. This is an essential part of the workout plan because it helps stabilize your heart and makes it stronger.

3. Speed Rowing Workout (Wednesday, Sunday)

This is always going to be the final workout over the course of three days before you get a day off. In this example, this will happen on Wednesday and Sunday.

What is a speed rowing workout?

In essence, you are going to be aiming to race against a timer. The goal is to set the resistance to an acceptable level based on your training needs. This should be easy enough to get through a consistent hour session while being able to talk to the person next to you. Figure this out and then begin the workout.

To do this the right way, you are going to have a distance in mind.

Let’s assume you are going to be rowing for one mile during this workout. Well, in that case, you are going to be aiming to get to that 1-mile mark as quickly as possible.

You will want to try to set a record on the first day and then use this marker for all of your following speed rowing workouts. This is a great way to end the schedule of workouts because it aims to be a quick sprint that will test how much you have improved over the course of a week or month.

Please remember, it’s important to listen to your body before a speed rowing workout. You will already have done two intense workouts (i.e. Strength Rowing and Cardio Rowing), which means your body may not be able to cope during the first week as a beginner. If that is the case, it is okay to cut things back and take rest.

However, you will eventually want to work your way up to including this in your rowing workout plan.

Tips for Maximizing Your Rowing Workouts

1. Ramp Up the Intensity

If you are someone that wants to get the most out of this rowing machine workout plan for beginners, it’s time to ramp up the intensity. It should never be “easy” when you are doing a workout.

The goal is to push yourself and not go through the motions, which means it is time to increase the resistance gradually. If the first two weeks were done at a certain resistance level, why not increase it by 3-4%?

It won’t be a dramatic increase but enough to push the body harder. This is what you should aim for each session until it isn’t possible any longer.

2. Stay Hydrated

This is a straightforward tip many beginners don’t follow. You need to keep a water bottle beside you during the workout. This is the only way to make sure you are not cramping up because the rowing movement takes a lot out of you.

Continue to sip away at the water bottle during the workout to push harder.

3. Create Short-Term Performance Goals

Are you taking the time to set up short-term performance goals? This can be something as simple as wanting to improve your time by 5% each session or get through a workout session faster.

It’s all about these goals that are going to ensure you continue to thrive. Otherwise, you are going to stagnate and get “too good” at going through the motions.

4. Use Live + On Demand Workouts

There are some rowers that offer live and on demand workout experiences. A few of these include the Echelon Rower, the Hydrow, and the NordicTrack RW.

Taking part in live and on demand rowing workouts can be a great way to stay motivated, track progress, and keep things fun.

See our list of the best rowers for 2024 to find one that might fit your needs and budget.

Final Thoughts

A rowing machine is wonderful as long as it is used wisely.

With the help of this comprehensive rowing machine workout for beginners, you can start to see tangible results within days.

It’s all about taking the time to understand what your body needs, what your goals are, and how to achieve your vision through continuous progress.

The workout listed here is a great launching pad and is going to ensure you continue to succeed heading into the future.