Rowin’ With the Homies: How to Make Cardio Fun Again!


Original Publish Date: 12/16/2017

Reformatted: 5/3/2021

by Malia Warren

When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting. That’s when it starts. That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it there.”


WELL. That’s a hell of a way to start a blog post about rowing huh? But for real, you’re not going to want to miss this.

If you’re looking for a full body cardio workout that doesn’t make you feel like a hamster on a wheel?

Nothing wrong with the treadmill, or traditional running outside, but man, sometimes it gets a little monotonous.

So read on for some fun workouts you can do with your rower. Cardio and fun don’t go together often but hopefully you’ll have fun with one of these.

Get Your Ducks In a Row

In my training, we often use the rowers to warm up. Since it requires a full body movement, the Rowing Machine serves as a great cardio based warm-up, similar to running. But, let’s clear this up now — it is way more fun than running.

If you’re looking for a fun new workout, that takes you away from the treadmill or the elliptical machine, give the Rowing Machine a try! Unlike running, the Rowing Machine demands you use your entire body to complete the movement.

But just like running or any other exercise, you should have good form. No. GREAT Form.

Some super basic [b*tch] quick pointers to form: Sit up straight (tits up!), grab the handles, position the foot straps so they fit tightly on your feet (your feet staying put is crucial!), bend at the knee (your legs will absorb most of the movement during the exercise), and pull back on the handles while pushing off with your legs.

Your spine should remain neutral during this movement (NO hunching over!). Repeat the movement to gain meters. The more you lean back in top of the movement, the longer your pull will be, which equals more meters per pull. There are so many other techniques out there that are much better explained in person rather than a blog (haha) but be sure to ask your coach or trainer about proper form.

Most big gyms and recreation centers have a standard Concept2 Rowing Machine, but don’t be surprised if they also have one of the ancient rowers with the water bowl attached.

These rowing machines will give you just as good of a burn as any, but the Concept Rowers have the games! Does your Treadmill have games? Didn’t think so!

They See Me Rowin’, They Hatin’

There are some awesome games like Fish Game, Darts, Target Training, and Biathlon. Read on for a brief description of each. Each game has a focus meant to challenge and improve your rowing performance.

For example, the Fish game will teach you how to control your intensity, while the Darts Game rewards consistency in tempo and power output. Check out the Concept2 website, to learn more!

Warm – Up

Before starting any workout, it’s always best to warm-up and stretch. Make sure to stretch through any tightness you might have.

On the Concept2 Rowing Machine, tap Menu, SELECT WORKOUT, SELECT :30/:30r, which is an interval workout of 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. Go for max meters each round. You can either match or beat your previous round, if you’re feeling extra spicy. Repeat this interval series 5 times for a great high-intensity warm-up to get the blood flowing.

Workout #1 – One Fish, Two Fish

(To get to the Fish Game: From to the Main Menu, SELECT GAMES, SELECT FISH GAME)

3 rounds:

Play the Fish Game (4 minutes) on the Concept2 Rower
Run 400m for every time you’re eaten by the big fish (1 time: 400m, 2 times: 800m, etc.)

*Subtract 400m for every 1K scored (Example: Big Fish ate you 3 times but Final score is 1200, so run 800m)

Here are my rounds 1, 2, and 3, respectively. I ended up running 400m, 1600m, and 400m, for a total of 2400m, or 1.5 miles.

Round #1

Round #2

Round #3

Your score is the amount of Meters you ran. Lower the better! If you did this one, tag us on Instagram so we can see your score! Check out the Concept2 website for more games available on the Concept2 Rower!

Workout #2 – Row’d Royalty 17.1

This one is straight from the Row’d Royalty competition from 2017.

Row’d Royalty 17.13 Rounds of 500m Row / 3 Minute Rest17.1A Fastest 500m Time17.1B Slowest 500m Time17.1C Total Rowing Time

Use Variables to Set Up the Workout

Example: Round 1: 1:20, Round 2: 1:25, Round 3: 1:23

*Photo from Row’d Royalty 2017 workouts. Totally recommend their annual competitions if you want to improve your *love* of rowing.

Workout #3 – Row for Broke

This is a fun one. You might need a little space either near your rower, or nearby, but no equipment besides the rower is involved. Unless you count your biceps guns as equipment.

Set the Rower to track Calories by hitting the DISPLAY button until you see KCAL.

“Row for Broke”

Calories on the Rower
Air Squats

[First do 21 reps of each exercise, then 15 of each, then 9, in that order.]

Did you do this one!? Throw your time in the comments section below!

Workout #415 minutes of Fame

You’ll probably dislike us for this but here it is anyway. Do it, tag us on instagram!

“15 minutes of Fame”For Time:
Go as Far as you can in 15 minutes*Do 10 burpees over the rower every 3 minutesYour score is the number of meters you rowed at the 15 minute mark.

Rowing Pains

Really want to see your Row performance jump? Join the Row’d Royalty competition! This 4-week long competition starts January of every year (check their website for more details) and will challenge your athleticism on that Rower! It’s for anyone, anywhere, as long as you have access to a Row Machine and an internet connection to log your scores.

I did this one this last year and it was awesome! We did finish the competition with a 10,000 meter Row (uh, yea), but I got through it with some good music while perfecting my rowing form! Sign up at Row’d Royalty and be prepared to get better at Rowing!

Do you love to Row, Row, Row [Your Boat]? Or do you hate when Rowing is part of the workout? What are you working on to improve your Row performance?

If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at 

Malia is the owner, and mamapreneur, of Lifting the Dream. When she’s not lifting heavy weights, she’s doing some fun shit outdoors with her family or attempting to make rollerblading cool again. She is a Cali girl born and raised, with salt water in her veins and sunshine in her heart. She and her family now reside near Denver, Colorado, soaking up the 300+ days of sunshine and breathtaking (literally, altitude) views.

Stay Lifting My Friends,

Bee Tee Dubs (BTW). 


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