Rowing Machine Interval Training [For Fast Results]

More people are doing rowing machine interval training because it has shown to be so effective for cardiovascular training, strength building and weight loss. Plus, you can get your workout done faster! Interval training essentially includes bursts of fast sprints in between slower recovery sessions.

Fitness expert Yuri Elkaim recommends that beginners start with a work-to-rest ratio of 1 to 4. In other words, rest for a period 4 times the amount of your sprint session. His chart below shows how a person’s heart rate elevates over time. Although the rest periods allow for some recovery, they don’t allow the person to fully recover.

Burst Training Chart
courtesy of

Many trainers agree that incorporating these short sprints into rowing workouts can produce better results in less time. The Mayo Clinic states that more vigorous exercise burns more calories – even if it is conducted in smaller sessions.

They also point out that exercising in bursts keeps workouts more interesting as compared to steady-state cardio. Not to mention, this makes people happy who want to shorten their workout time.

Interval Training on an Indoor Rower?

Rowing machines are perfect for burst training because can take advantage of the more vigorous exercise benefits while engaging the entire body at once. If you have tried sprinting using both your upper body and lower body at once, you already know that you’ll have no problem exhausting your body in 60 seconds on an indoor rower.

Compared to doing burst training with running sprints or jumping rope, rowing involves minimal impact on your joints. Joint pain and high-impact movements are a big issue with many people, and often times prevent them from taking on an exercise routine. With rowing machines, you don’t have to worry about this.

In addition, you can turn your rest periods into “active rest” time where you continue to move your body without having to expend effort. See the video below for more information.


Although sprints can seem daunting compared to a medium-effort workout, the rest breaks in between intervals make the sprints more manageable. These shorter workouts can be ideal for people who don’t have a lot of time to exercise.

In addition, these short bursts tend to give people more energy, which makes them a great workout to do in the beginning of the day (in fact, some people use this exercise style to start their day off instead of drinking a cup of coffee).

So Exactly How Do You Start Rowing Machine Interval Training?

Some people do burst training in increments of 1 to 2. For example, if you sprint for 1 minute, you would then rest 2 minutes before your next sprint. Of course, you can vary the interval and rest time to what meets your needs.

Because sprint workouts can be so taxing, some trainers recommend keeping sessions to about 10 – 12 minutes total. To many athletes, these may sound like a short workout. However, try a sprint session where you are exercising at maximum effort. You will not feel guilty stopping after 10 minutes.

For example, you could start with a 1-minute sprint with 2 minutes rest, 4 times through. Your total workout lasts only 12 minutes.

That said, keep in mind that overly short sessions don’t always provide maximum calorie-burning benefits. You need to sprint hard on quick workouts to for maximum fitness results.

Fitness Advisor Wayne L Westcott PhD recommends keeping HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts between 15 and 20 minutes to achieve optimal benefits.


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