If you are searching for rowing exercises but have no idea where to start this 20-minute rowing workout (plus the equipment to help you crush it) is the perfect place to start.

By Danielle McNally
Updated August 01, 2019
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Spain, Andalusia, cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Close-up of woman on rowing machine at the gym.
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You know what a workout derailer it can be when you watch someone take the last available treadmill if you were looking to get in a quick and dirty cardio session. Instead of hopping on the elliptical that, let's face it, can sometimes feel like you're awkwardly run-climbing to nowhere, head for the rowing machine that is typically relegated to the back corner. Note to gyms: The rowing machine deserves so much more cred and space than you're giving it. (BTW, the stair climber is also an underrated piece of workout equipment.)

If you've never used a rowing machine before and think it's just an upper-body workout, you're totally wrong. Rowing offers a full-body burn from shoulders to calves.

Plus, you don't have to have been on a collegiate crew team to do rowing exercises. This beginner-friendly rowing workout from Anna Cummins, a master rowing instructor for Concept 2, a top manufacturer of rowing exercise machines, will take you from rookie to pro in minutes. Simply set the damper (a device on the side of the flywheel that controls the drag) between 3 and 5, choose pace mode, and row (take note of the rowing exercise form tips below), aiming for the recommended speeds.

After 9 minutes, stand up and stretch those hard worked muscles—or for an added challenge do walking lunges for an active shake-out. Then sit back down on the rowing exercise machine for the second half of your session. You'll have an awesome workout checked off your to-do list and everyone else will still be waiting for a treadmill to open up. (Related: Which Is Better: Treadmill or Elliptical?)

Rowing Exercises for a 20-Minute Full-Body Workout

rowing workout

Rowing Exercise Form Tips

Follow these pointers to avoid injury and maximize your rowing workout results.

1. Place feet in the stirrups. Strap height should hit roughly at the ball of your foot.

2. Hinge at hips and bend knees so they are directly over your ankles.

3. Take a light grip around the handle and keep wrists straight.

4. Extend arms long in front of you, keeping shoulders down and back. Don't hunch.

5. Hinge forward from the hips and bend knees until they're over ankles.

6. Push through feet (avoid pressing through only toes or heels, aim for the whole bottom of the foot), extend legs long without locking out knees.

7. Lean back slightly, engaging core, shoulders relaxed.

8. Draw elbows back without lifting handle so it comes just below chest or at the top of your ribcage.

9. To prepare for next stroke, straighten arms first before bringing chest and knees in.

Now that you know how to row and have a rowing workout routine to help you practice your rowing exercise, you'll need a rowing exercise machine to help you train. Here are a few that our home gym is begging you to buy.

Rowing Exercise Machines to Buy

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 (Buy It, $945, amazon.com)

NordicTrack RW900 Rower (Buy It, $1,599; includes membership, nordictrack.com)

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor (Buy It, $189, amazon.com)

WaterRower Natural Natural Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor (Buy It, $1,095, waterrower.com)

Merax Water Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor (Buy It, $570, amazon.com)

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