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

Want a full body cardio workout that doesn’t make you feel like a hamster on a wheel? (I’m looking at you Treadmill Trekkies!).

Elf is copyright of New Line Cinema. Concept2 Rower is copyright of Concept, Inc. Image is for satire, We make no claim to either the product or characters depicted.

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: Sit up straight, 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 but here is a link to form guide from if you need some light reading.

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!


But first, let’s start with a warm-up: 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.

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 – Meter Shower

This one is straight from the Row’d Royalty competition from 2017, we just added the name for fun!


Do 3 Rounds of a 500m Row, with 3 minutes of rest in between. Go balls out, because your score is your slowest 500m time minus your fastest 500m time. Did you do this one!? Drop your score on our Facebook page!

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 guns as equipment 😉

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

For Time:
21-15-9
Calories on the Rower
Air Squats
Push-ups
[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!

Rowing Pains

Really want to see your Row performance jump? Join the Row’d Royalty competition! This 4-week long competition starts January 11th 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 10,000m Row, 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?

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 taste testing local ciders. 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.

Bee Tee Dubs (BTW). 

CROSSFIT, INC DOES NOT ENDORSE, SANCTION, APPROVE OF, OR SUPPORT THIS WORK OR ANY OPINION EXPRESSED HEREIN.

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