Tabata Rowing: Full Body Burn In 4 Minutes (including Tabata MP3)

Tabata Rowing is 4 minutes of the most intense exercise you can manage. Tabata training has been around since 2009. Since its inception, the Tabata protocol has become very popular among athletes looking for a HIIT workout to improve their performance by increasing anaerobic capacity and strength. However, despite being such a powerful tool, few people understand exactly how intense Tabata training really is. Take a read of this article to discover just how hard you need to push yourself.

Tabata Rowing Workout

8 sets 20 secs 10 secs

This Tabata rowing workout uses the same principles as this research. It’s eight sets of 20-second sprints with 10-second rest. This is four minutes of rowing workout time, 2min 40 seconds of that at high intensity.

Sprint Intervals:

tabata rowing

The sprint phase in standard Tabata rowing is 20 seconds long. During this sprint phase, you need to row as powerfully as possible, your max effort. If you are looking for an idea of how hard you need to row, you should not be able to complete the ninth set. During the research, they did the Tabata interval sets at a VO2 max of 170%. If you can get to the end of the eighth set and you still have a little energy left in your legs, you should have gone harder.

But what if you went as hard as you can on the rower that you have?

Sometimes with your fitness level and the cardio machines you are using, you just can’t max it out on the original Tabata exercise. If this is the case, try extending the time, but keep it to the Tabata ratio. So if, for example, you extend your sprint to 40 seconds, then your rest will become 20 seconds. Always keep in mind though, the idea of a Tabata workout is intensity, not endurance. Time will always be secondary to how hard you can push yourself throughout the set. If you have to compromise on time or intensity, always compromise on time.

Rest Intervals:

The rest time is only ten seconds. It’s hardly enough time for you to catch your breath, but just remember the whole workout is only 4 minutes long (excluding your warm-up and warm-down). Keep rowing during your rest phase but bring the intensity right down. Breath as deeply as you can and let your body get as much oxygen as it can.

Resistance: How do I get a tougher workout with my rowing machine

Rowing is different from other cardio machines because most offer more resistance, the harder your row. Note I said harder, not faster.

With Tabata rowing, you will get more resistance by putting more power into your stroke rather than going faster and faster.

Of course, you will need the right rower. For example, the hydraulic piston rowing machine won’t work for this.

Second, you will need to concentrate on perfecting your form throughout the row, so that you can transfer more power through your legs into the rower.

Here is how to get your rowing technique right for the Tabata rowing workout.

Your legs will do most of the work: Your legs will do over 60% of the work on the rower, they are the base for the drive and they contain the largest groups of muscles in the body. In order to get into the anaerobic zone quickly, you need to make sure you are driving all your power through your legs first.

Drive with your heels straight back: You should not be leaving your seat when you push backward. Drive the power from the legs straight through your heels and push yourself directly back, not up.

Legs, Hips, Arms: This is the order your body parts get activated on the rower. If any part changes order you will lose your rhythm and with that, you will lose your power through the stroke. While you are rowing it’s worthwhile to repeat legs, hips, arms through your stroke just to get the rhythm right.

Engage your core first and keep it engaged through the entire stroke: You will notice most rowers have a very controlled body when they row. They do this by activating their core and keeping themselves steady through the whole stroke. This steadiness allows you to keep your power throughout the stroke (you will notice people on the rowing machine who don’t do this leak their power out of loose movements, they essentially are cheating on the row to make it easier)

Wait for the leg drive to complete before pulling with your arms. As soon as you bend your arms, you will take the pressure and the strain off your legs, you want your legs to complete the row before you do this, this will give you the longest stroke and the most benefit from the row.

Relax your body, don’t hunch your shoulders, relax your hands, relax your elbows. Keep your steadiness through your core but relax the other parts of your body.

Pull the handle to the bottom of your rib cage. A common mistake people make is pulling the handle up toward their chin. This is another form of leaking the resistance out to make it easier. The handle needs to follow through to the sternum.

Keep your back straight throughout the whole Tabata workout. Think of your back as the brace for this workout. It needs to be straight throughout the whole workout. If your core is engaged, your back is straight and your arms loose, then all the power will transfer through your back muscles as you stroke.

Use your hips to swing your torso forward and back while keeping your back straight. Use your hips as a pivot to move your straight back forward and backward.

When returning the handle, wait until the bar passes over your knees before you bend them. Don’t bend your knees too soon. The reverse movement is the exact opposite of the pull. Make sure you do things in order.

Keep the whole movement smooth during this rowing machine workout, don’t jerk movements. Don’t yank the handle or slam the seat on the rowing machine. All the power is smooth. If you want to pull harder, then build up to it over three strokes and do it smoothly.


Well, that is the Tabata rowing workout. It should be a very intense, high-intensity interval training workout.

Now it’s over to you, take the Tabata mp3 to the gym, jump onto the rower and give it your best shot.

Let me know how it went for you in the comments below.

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