Best Rowing CrossFit Workouts For Indoor Rowers
The main advantage of rowing is that it is a total body workout using most of the muscles in your body with minimal impact on your joints. Rowing is essentially a blend of a deadlift and a barbell row which is why rowing is a superior cardio workout for those who also want to build and maintain muscle.
CrossFit is one sport that has fully adopted rowing as one of the core movements/workouts and forms part of a large number of ‘workouts of the day’ (WODs). Not only is it heavily featured in your local CrossFit gym, but the CrossFit Games continue to use the rowing machines in a number of their events.
Below is a list of the top 10 rowing CrossFit workouts, but before trying any of them be sure to brush up on your rowing skills. There are tons of good videos out there to get you started. I also just published a rowing machine guide for beginners that you might find helpful.
1. Try a CrossFit Tabata rowing workout.
Program your rower for eight intervals of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. This workout is only four minutes long but it won’t feel like it! Great if you don’t have a lot of time.
Due to length of the workout, make sure you don’t hold back. You should push to go as fast as possible during the 20 seconds of work before taking the 10 seconds of well deserved rest. If possible, keep an eye on the distance you travelled during the 20 seconds and try to cover the same distance in each interval.
2. Rowing and KB Swings.
- Row 200m
- KB Swings – 15 reps
- Row 400m
- Press-ups – 15 reps
- Row 600m
- KB Swings – 15 reps
- Row 1000m
Rest 2 minutes. Perform 3 rounds.
Use a challenging weight for the KB swings, but don’t try to max out as your legs will already be tired from the rowing. If you can’t do the full 3 rounds, do as many as you can and work your way up. This is a great CrossFit workout to begin mixing in some weights.
3. Boat Race. A mix of rowing and running.
- 500m row
- 400m run
Perform 3 rounds for time.
This is a great workout to get your heart rate up as there is no planned rest and you should transition from each stage as quickly as possible. A great thing about workouts ‘for time’ is that you can compete with yourself. Try this workout once a week for a month and see how much you can decrease the time it takes you to finish the workout.
4. HIIT Rowing Workout
- 1 minute rowing
- 1 minute rest
This is a great fat burning workout and great for those who are short on time as it only lasts 20 minutes. It is also a great one for beginners as you have plenty of time to recover.
5. Do ‘Jackie’ Workout
- 1000m row
- 50 thrusters (20/15)
- 30 pull-ups
This is a full CrossFit style workout. A mix of cardio and weights and definitely a more advanced workout requiring more skill.
Be prepared for your legs to feel this one. Following a 1000m row with 50 thrusters is going to be challenging, but as this workout is only one round really focus on pushing yourself to complete the workout as quickly as possible. If you can’t do 30 pull-ups (not many of us can) use a band, or break it down into sets of 5. Again, as this is a ‘for time’ workout, complete it a few times over the space of a month and see how much you can improve your time by.
6. Broken 5,000m CrossFit workout For Stamina
- Row 2000m (slow and steady)
- Rest 2 minutes
- Row 1500m (medium speed)
- Rest 1.5 minutes
- Row 1000m (fast speed)
- Rest 1 minute
- Row 500m (sprint)
Rowing 5,000m in one go is difficult for even the most experienced rower, but it is a classic CrossFit distance that you should get used to. This workout helps build your stamina slowly and will help you work up to a full 5,000m. Great if you want to build up your stamina.
7. 2k Row.
This is one of the most challenging workouts a CrossFit athlete will do and focusses almost purely on endurance and will power. If you are fairly new to rowing set a reasonable target (such as a 2:10 split) to ensure you are able to finish the row. A good time will depend on male and female but 8 minutes and under is a good start so aim for a 2:00 split.
8. The Gut Buster.
- 150 sit-ups
- 1000m row
- 150 sit-ups
As the name suggests this workout places a huge focus on your core. Take your time on the sit-ups to ensure you are using good technique and are not straining your neck. If it is helpful and feels more comfortable use an ab-mat.
9. Chipper Jones.
- 50 air squats
- 25-calorie row
- 50 Russian KB swings
- 20-calorie row
- 30 sit-ups
- 15-calorie row
- 20 push-ups
- 10-calorie row
- 10 burpees
This is a full body strength workout that improves rowing and requires use of your upper body, lower body and core. Take this one slow and steady if you are trying it for the first time as you will begin to feel the burn quickly. Getting used to a calorie-based row is great as a lot of CrossFit workouts will use this method for interval based workouts and it takes some time to get used to.
10. Marathon Row.
- Row 42,195 meters.
This workout was completed in the 2018 CrossFit Games with a time cap of 4 hours. This should only be attempted when you have sufficient experience as a rower and have practiced for the specific event. But if you are going to try it, make sure you have some great music, podcast or movies playing because you are going to be there for a while! This workout might be for the brave, but the endurance payoff is like nothing else you will have tried on the rowing machine.
For some of these rowing crossfit workouts, aside from a rowing machine like Concept2 Model D or Model E, you would also need a Kettlebell, a pull up bar, exercise mat, and a place to run or a running machine (treadmill) if you are exercising at home. There are affordable home gyms that have pull-up bars and a few other bits and pieces that come handy for indoor workouts.