A Simple Rowing Machine Exercise Plan for Beginners

A good rowing machine exercise plan will give you a cardiovascular workout and tone most major muscle groups. If you’re a beginner at using an indoor rower, you may not be sure of how to get started using the machine for an effective workout.

The key is to start slowly and work your way up over time in order to prevent injuries or exercise burnout.

Warming Up Is Crucial

Don’t neglect a five minute warm-up before stepping onto your rowing machine. While the rower does work several muscle groups, you can develop a sprain or strain if you immediately begin rowing.

Instead, do some squats, a few jumping jacks, bend over and touch your toes, and stretch the muscles in your arms and legs. This will warm the muscles up and prepare them for the real exertion once you begin rowing.

Simplicity Is Key

A simple rowing machine exercise plan is the best approach if you’re a beginner. While Interval Training and specific programs such as Fartlek can be very effective, you’ll do better at them once you’ve polished your skills on the rower for a few weeks. Focus on your target heart rate when you begin rowing and forget about anything else. Focusing on maintaining a healthy heart rate will prevent you from overdoing things or doing a workout that’s too easy to give you good cardiovascular benefits.

To begin, row steadily at a moderate pace, working up to a faster rate over a few minutes until you’ve achieved your target heart rate. Now maintain your rowing speed in order to keep your heart rate at target. Try to do this for ten to fifteen minutes, dropping back your speed a bit any time your heart rate climbs over the target. Once it’s dropped back down, keep rowing until you’ve hit the fifteen minute mark or you feel too fatigued to continue at that speed.

Toward the end of this rowing machine exercise plan, gradually reduce your speed and the intensity of your workout so that your heart rate will slowly return to normal. Do not stop abruptly while your heart rate is elevated, as this isn’t healthy. Once you’ve slowed to a stop and your heart rate is within the normal resting range, do more stretches to allow your muscles to cool down without cramping up. If you know any yoga poses, these are great for your cool-down.

Over time, you’ll be able to add minutes to the main portion of your exercise routine, working up to twenty minutes or a half hour or rowing at your target heart rate. Keep in mind that this could take several weeks; don’t push yourself. Steady progress brings the best results.

Adding Variety to your Rowing Machine Exercise Plan

After you’ve been working out for several weeks on your rowing machine, consider adding some variety to your routine. Two ways to do this are by incorporating high intensity interval training or Fartlek training, as we’ve outlined in our article about rowing machine interval training.

You can also vary your routine by using a variety of grips to isolate and work different muscle groups. A few minutes focused on each of the following grips is a great way to intensify your workout:

  • Focusing on the standard rowing grip (pulling the handlebar to the mid-section) will work all of your back muscles.
  • Pulling the handlebar to your chin with elbows elevated will work your trapezius and upper back muscles.
  • Switching back to the standard rowing grip, flip your hands over to pull on the handlebar in order to focus on your lower lat muscles.
  • Using the same under-handed grip, do some bicep curls while holding the handlebar to increase the workout your arms are doing.

By beginning with this simple rowing machine exercise plan, you can ensure that you’ve mastered your technique before moving on to a more complex workout you’ll be able to stick with for the long term.

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