HIIT Rowing Workout and Mp3: get stronger! faster! fitter! (20 min workout)

Doing a HIIT rowing workout involves sprinting as hard as you can for 30 seconds on a HIIT rower, and then resting and recovering for 90 seconds. The sprint phase gets your body into the anaerobic zone, tapping into your body’s stored energy sources. A study actually found out the rowing was better at burning fat stores than cycling was. The rest phase is purely for recovering enough to row with enough intensity in the next sprint.

So we based this HIIT rowing workout on a more traditional type of HIIT, aiming at maxing out your exercise in 30 seconds. In the research available, they took well trained rowers and gave them much longer intervals with shorter rests (we will have a look at this HIIT workout in another post.) if you are looking for a Tabata type rowing workout you can find it here.

HIIT Rowing Workout MP3

10 sets 30 secs 90 secs
If you are a beginner, start at about three sets. If you are doing this after your weight training for a metabolic workout, limit it to 5 sets.

Warm up

Your warmup will last for 5 minutes. For the warmup, set your resistance to about 5. Start at a speed of about 3 minutes per hundred and as the warmup progresses, start getting faster getting closer to a 2 minute per hundred mark.

Concentrate on your full range of motion in the warmup, focusing on your form so that you get into a groove before your sprints, don’t get sloppy as you build up that sweat. Treat this warmup like a cardio workout.

In the last minute of your workout push your resistance up by two or three and start putting in a few intense rows at about three-quarter pace.

HIIT rowing Workout Sprint

You will sprint for 30 seconds. This 30 second sprint will be all out intensity going as fast as you can.

Here is my suggestion: Have a look at your distance you cover in 30 seconds, every HIIT interval you do, you need to beat this distance (or at least attempt to). It’s a competition to hit your best distance every 30 seconds.

I would you ask you to focus on your form for this exercise. I’ve seen plenty of rowers in the gym going hell for leather all over the place. This will injure you, cheat on your exercise and not work the right muscles.

Here is what the correct HIIT rowing Workout technique looks like

The Drive

HIIT Rowing workout drive

The power of the drive comes with your legs. Your first movement is to explode by driving your legs through your heels. Ensure you are still leaning forward through this drive with your arms completely straight. Keep in that position until your legs are straight.

The Hinge

hiit rowing workout hinge

Once your legs are straight, keep your core engaged, pull backward by hinging your hips. Keep your back straight and your arms straight through his motion and lean back.

The Pull

HIIT rowing workout pull

Pull the handle in a vertical motion towards your midsection, with your elbows bending downward. Keep your back straight in this whole motion as you complete the pull.

(The description sounds pretty stiff, but you are keeping your form while everything is relaxed.)

Hold this position for movement, before starting the reverse.

Think of this phase as a very brief resting position, only for 1-2 seconds at the most. Your legs are fully extended with a slight bend, your torso, upper back, and shoulders are leaning back, and your arms have pulled the oar into your body.

The Recovery

Straighten your arms while your hips hinge forward, and your torso leans forward towards the front of the rower. Bend your knees and slide your seat back to the starting positing reading to explode again.

Mistakes that often occur with a rowing HIIT workout:

  • Pulling the handle before completely straightening your legs
  • Bending back too far
  • Pulling the handle up to the top of your chest
  • Going too fast instead of focusing on power.


There are so many types of rowers, so having a universal guide on resistance isn’t possible.

Air resistance: this is the most common type of rowing machine and probably the best one for HIIT training. The resistance is provided by fan that you spin when you row. Most have a lever on this fan to increase it would decrease the resistance.

Magnetic resistance: magnetic resistance rowing machines create resistance by using a magnetic brake system. The advantages these have over the air resistance is that they are nearly silent. The magnetic resistance is adjustable.

Air/magnetic: this is a combination of the air and magnetic resistance. You’re moving into more high-end rowers at this point.

Water resistance: this is like the air resistance rowers except that instead of having a fan, the rowing machine uses paddles through water to create resistance. These are expensive.

Piston resistance: these rowers have two handlebars, and each handlebar has a hydraulic piston attached to it. The resistance of each of these pistons can be adjusted. These are not advisable for high intensity interval training.

Recovery period

Turn the resistance down and slow down completely, but don’t stop rowing. Remember that this rest is purely to get yourself ready to explode into your next intense interval. Bring your heart rate down as much as you can and try to catch your breath and slow it down.

HIIT Rowing Workout Benefits

The cardiovascular, Vo2 max and calorie burning benefits of rowing are obvious (just look at rower’s bodies…) But there are more benefits than that, such as:

It’s fantastic because it’s a full-body HIIT workout using almost every major muscle group in the entire body. It targets your upper back, pectorals, your arms, your core and obliques and then your leg muscles include quadriceps, glutes and calves.

It’s fantastic for you no matter what level of fitness you are at. (Although to be honest, top rowers would find this particular HIIT workout fairly easy.)

Indoor rowing means this exercise is always available.

On top of all these benefits it’s a low-impact exercise, saving all those joints, so it’s excellent for those who are injury prone.


So that is the HIIT rowing workout that’s going to get you results.

Now it’s your turn to give it a go in the gym. Really give this interval workout everything you’ve got.

Let me know how the workout goes in the comments below

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