Rowing might be one of the most physically demanding sports in existence. Each race is a little over 1.2 miles and is usually over in about six-and-a-half minutes. The races consist of about 230 strokes, with each stroke being very similar to an explosive 95-pound power clean. Not surprisingly, the guys who do this at the elite level are some of the fittest in the world.

Here, I’ve given you a typical off-the-water (indoors) practice. It’s a circuit-style workout with lots of rowing, body-weight exercises and weightlifting. You should take about a minute rest between each station. Fair warning, though. The Concept 2 Rower (or “erg”), despite its harmless appearance, can be the most challenging workout in the gym if done correctly. This is not for the faint of heart or timid.


Station One
Steady state rowing. Shoot for 28 strokes per minute and row for eight minutes. The last 30 seconds of this should be a sprint, with the stroke rate and power output higher than the first 7:30.

Station Two
Row with the front of the machine elevated on a bench, so its more challenging on your hamstrings and lower back. Make sure to strap it down or it’ll fall off. Do this for eight minutes and row as far as you can.

Station Three
Row with the rear of the machine elevated on a bench, so its more challenging on your quadriceps and abs. Again, be sure to strap it down. Eight minutes, row as far as you can.

Station Four
Intervals. Crank the vent on the Concept 2 up to maximum resistance—it will challenge your strength more than your cardio. Do 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off for eight minutes. Those 40 seconds are going to go by very, very quickly.

Station Five
Weights. We would usually do military presses, lunges, and bench pulls. The bench pulls would be done laying face down on an elevated bench and pulling a barbell up to the chest. You can do yours with a regular bench and dumbbells, but make sure to pull all the way up the chest for each rep. Hit each station for one minute, but do the bench pulls twice. Do this for eight minutes, and bang out as many reps as possible in each station.

Station Six
Core workout. Crunches, leg raises, planks, pushups, shoulder stands, scissor kicks, all done on or with a Swiss ball. Any kind of core exercise you want to throw at yourself, do it. Shoot for a total of eight minutes, doing each exercise for one minute. Your goal is do as many reps as possible on each exercise.

Station Seven
Stretch. You’re going to need it.

For the Tough Guys
*If you want to push yourself, do eight minutes worth of body weight step-ups after station number four. If that’s too easy, grab some weights.

**If you want to push yourself further, jump back on the Concept 2 after station six and repeat the station one workout.

I’m not a trainer or a doctor. I’m just a regular guy who has done this. If you have any questions about the sport or want to try another practice, get at me on Twitter: @swd515, or shoot me an email at