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The Total-Body Rowing Machine Workout That Will Transform Your Body

If you belong to a gym or do CrossFit, you've seen a rower. Now get ready to make it your new favorite workout machine. “It ranks above and beyond any other piece of fitness equipment,” says Jared Stein, a lead instructor for CityRow in New York City, a studio that blends rowing intervals with strength-training moves. That's because it uses more than 80 percent of your muscles with every stroke, Stein says, and burns some 540 calories per hour with minimal impact. (And science shows more muscles pitching in equals more fat burn than other forms of cardio, like spinning!)

Rather than just rowing steadily (snooze), take on Stein’s body-transforming workout, shown here. You'll push at different intensity levels—to reach various distance and time markers—and hop on and off the rower for inventive bodyweight moves that use the handle, seat, or base of the machine. The beauty of using the rower for the strengtheners, Stein notes, is that it allows you to experience a greater range of motion and to hit more angles so you can work more muscles more deeply. (Get more total-body moves from CityRow here!)

And you can’t cheat through it. There's no resistance knob to turn down, no push button to autopilot your pace, no handles to hold when you get tired. “Your input directly correlates with your output,” Stein says. Check out a video of the workout in action!)

How it works: Nail your form first with the “Perfect Your Stroke” info below (proper technique requires your entire core to work, so expect stronger, sleeker abs), then do each move in order, working in high-intensity cardio bursts on the rower. If you do this routine three days a week—coupled with proper nutrition—you can start to see results in as little as 14 days, Stein says.

Total Time: up to 30 minutes

1. Perfect Your Stroke

A.

Sit tall with feet strapped in and knees bent; lift and hold ends of handle (pinkie fingers hang off) with arms extended forward over knees. (This is called the catch.)

B.

Keep arms and back straight and powerfully drive legs back (resist the urge to pull your arms here) until they’re almost straight, then tighten your core and lean your torso back 45 degrees. (This is called the drive.)

C.

Now pull elbows back, bringing handle to touch lower part of chest. Reverse movement: Extend arms, sit up so torso is perpendicular to floor and handle glides over knees, then bend knees and return to the catch. The easy way to remember all of this: legs, core, arms; then arms, core, legs.

Sets:

1

Reps:

1

2. Corkscrew Crunch

A.

Stay seated and straighten legs. Remove left foot from strap and let it hover, place fingertips behind head with elbows out to sides, lean back 45 degrees to start.

B.

Raise and rotate torso to left to bring right elbow to meet left knee. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

3. Plank Pike

A.

Start facing away from rower in plank, with palms on floor about 1 foot in front of the back of rower and feet on seat. Pull feet in toward hands, lifting hips high. Lower to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

4. Elevated Climber

A.

Start with body perpendicular to rower in plank with palms on floor and feet on rail. Pull right knee toward chest. Return to start. Switch sides; repeat. That’s 1 rep.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

5. Alter-Climb

A.

Start with body perpendicular to rower in plank, with palms on floor and feet on rail. Pull left knee toward chest, then back to start, then up to left elbow, then back to start. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

6. Reverse Lunge

A.

Stand about 1 foot away from back of rower and facing away from it, hands on hips. Place left toes on seat to start. Slide left leg back, bending right knee into a lunge. Return to start. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15

7. Single-Leg Step-Up

A.

Stand with body perpendicular to rower and facing it, arms by sides. Place ball of right foot on rail and step left leg into reverse lunge to start.

B.

Press into right foot to step up to stand on rower, bringing bent right knee toward chest. Return to start. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15

8. Lateral Pistol Squat

A.

Stand behind rower with arch of left foot pressed against the back and arch of right foot on seat, hands together at chest to start. Squat, sliding right foot to the front of rower. Return to start. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15

9. Biceps Curl

A.

Sit on rower with legs extended. Hold handle in both hands with an underhand grip and extend arms slightly up; lean torso back 45 degrees to start.

B.

Curl palms toward forehead. Return to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

10. Split Push-Up

A.

Start with right side of body parallel to rower (facing the back) in plank with left palm on floor and right palm on rail. Do a push-up. Complete reps, then repeat on the other side.

Sets:

1

Reps:

5

11. Hand-Release Dip

A.

Sit on floor perpendicular to rower with back pressed against rail, legs long, and elbows bent at sides with palms in front of chest to start.

B.

Swing elbows back to place palms on rail outside of hips.

C.

Straighten arms to press hips up. Return to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

5

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