post 6 Best HIIT Rowing Machine Workout (Fat-Torching Exercise)

6 Best HIIT Rowing Machine Workout (Fat-Torching Exercise)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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High-intensity workouts are excellent for boosting cardiovascular health and fitness in the shortest possible time.

Many of these 10, 15, and 20-minute HIIT rowing workouts will tone your muscles, improve your rowing technique through repetition, and improve upper-body conditioning.

As a certified personal trainer and more than 15 hours of research, I created an easy-to-follow HIIT rowing workout guide to experience all the benefits mentioned above.

After reading the article, you will know the 6 best HIIT rowing workouts and their benefits based on intensity, volume, and other programming tools.

Quick Summary

  • The best rowing HIIT workouts include beginner HIIT rowing workouts, endurance-based HIIT workouts, fat-burning HIIT workouts, time-efficient HIIT rowing workouts, fun HIIT rowing workouts, and pyramid HIIT rowing workouts.
  • The benefits of HIIT rowing workouts are numerous, but the two most important are that it trains the whole body and is excellent for burning extra calories and fat.
  • The International Journal of Exercise Medicine recommends sticking with 48-72 hours of rest between working out the same muscle groups so your body and respective muscles can fully recover.
  • I've found that HIIT rowing is an unparalleled method for boosting stamina and mental toughness.

6 Best Hiit Rowing Workouts

A person doing intense rowing workouts

Before beginning HIIT rowing workouts, it's crucial to apply specific principles.

Progressive overload is key, involving gradual increases in training volume, reps, sets, and intensity to prevent plateaus, as research in the National Library of Medicine suggests [1].

However, to prevent your body from entering the state called an overtraining syndrome, you must incorporate proper rest intervals between workouts of the same sort as shown by Sports Health [2].

The International Journal of Exercise Medicine recommends sticking with 48-72 hours of rest between working out the same muscle groups so your body and respective muscles can fully recover [3].

In my experience as a fitness coach, this approach has consistently helped clients achieve sustained progress without burnout.

"Don't like running? You don't have to. Even though treadmills are great, they're not the only cardio equipment that can get you in tip-top shape. Rowing machines will bring you a wealth of strength and conditioning benefits — without all that repetitive impact on your joints."

- Joey Adduci, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Beginner Hiit Rowing Workout

A man at the gym doing beginner HIIT rowing workouts

Beginner HIIT workouts might seem contradictory, as HIIT is typically an advanced cardio form.

Often, people mistake increased activity intensity for true HIIT, which involves exercising in a highly lactic anaerobic zone, pushing you to breathlessness as your body clears blood lactate.

Beginners can still embark on HIIT rowing by starting with shorter work intervals and longer rest periods, like a 15/45 or 20/40 workout-to-rest ratio, for 10 minutes.

From my coaching experience, incorporating mindfulness and breathing techniques at this stage significantly improves focus and eases the transition to more challenging workouts.

How to Perform a Rowing Workout for Beginners

  • 20 Seconds Work - work with the highest intensity possible, and don't rest between the rowing sequences.
  • 40 Seconds Rest (Low Intensity) - start rowing slowly and aim to recover as much as possible before the next set.
  • Total Workout Time - 10 minutes.

2. Endurance-Based Hiit Rowing Workout

Endurance-focused HIIT workouts are a great place to start if you had enough typical short, high-intensity interval sessions.

These workouts will significantly improve your aerobic and anaerobic endurance capabilities and allow you to stay in the lactic state for a prolonged period. 

In total, this rowing HIIT workout lasts 45 minutes and follows a work-to-rest interval methodology of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

This means exercising for 30 seconds and recovering for 2 minutes. For the 2-minute recovery, you will continue to row slower at around 60-70% max heart rate.

This is considered a low-intensity cardio workout with short bursts of high-intensity intervals, an excellent combination for improving cardiorespiratory conditioning.

How to Perform Endurance-Based HIIT Workout

  • 30 Seconds Work - work with the highest intensity possible, and don't rest between the rowing sequences.
  • 2 Minutes Rest (Low Intensity) - start rowing slowly and aim to recover as much as possible before the next set.
  • Total Workout Time - 45 minutes.

3. Fat-Burning Hiit Rowing Workout

A woman at the gym doing rowing exercises for weight loss

Fat-burning HIIT workouts are excellent for maximizing calorie and fat burn.

The effectiveness lies in a 30-minute session with a lower-end work-to-rest ratio, ideally 1:1, allowing for sufficient recovery to maintain intensity.

Aim to reach up to 90% of your max heart rate during active phases.

From my experience as a fitness coach, complementing these workouts with a balanced meal of proteins and carbohydrates 1-2 hours beforehand significantly enhances energy levels and fat loss results.

How to Perform a Fat Burning HIIT Workout

  • 1 Minute Work - work with the highest intensity possible, and don't rest between the rowing sequences.
  • 1 Minute Rest - start rowing slowly and aim to recover as much as possible before the next set.
  • Total Workout Time - 30 minutes.

4. Time-Efficient Hiit Rowing Workout

Time-efficient HIIT rowing workout will get the most work done in the shortest time possible to experience the same benefits as other workout examples.

For this type of HIIT rowing workout, we must use a different work-to-rest ratio to compensate for the time we lack.

We will perform 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest for 5 rounds to achieve that.

This will be extremely demanding on your system, producing the same effects as other workout examples in less time.

How to Perform a Time-Efficient Hiit Rowing Workout

  • 45 Seconds Work - work with the highest intensity possible, and don't rest between the rowing sequences.
  • 15 Seconds Rest - start rowing slowly and aim to recover as much as possible before the next set.
  • Total Workout Time - 5 minutes.

5. Fun Hiit Rowing Workout (Fartlek Style)

A woman doing HIIT rowing workouts Fartlek Style

Fun HIIT rowing workout will combine HIIT and Fartlek methodologies to create something that won't be boring to you for longer periods.

This is important since many trainees give up before experiencing drastic improvements in their health and appearance due to monotony.

We will stick to one-minute intervals to keep the workout as simple as possible but fun.

You can choose the work-to-rest ratio between 20:40, 30:30, and similar.

How to Perform a Fun Hiit Rowing Workout

  • Setup - various work-to-rest intervals that last up to 1 minute.
  • Total Workout Time - 20 minutes.

6. Pyramid Hiit Rowing Workout

The pyramid HIIT workout helps you to switch things up quickly.

The thing you must remember to do is to increase the interval time while switching back and forth gradually.

For instance, you should use a long work interval with a shorter recovery time followed by a short work and long rest interval.

How to Perform Pyramid Hiit Workout

  • 25 seconds work - 35 seconds recovery
  • 30 seconds work - 30 seconds recovery
  • 35 seconds work - 25 seconds recovery
  • 40 seconds work - 20 seconds recovery
  • 45 seconds work - 15 seconds recovery
  • 50 seconds work - 10 seconds recovery
  • 10 seconds work - 50 seconds recovery
  • 55 seconds work - 5 seconds recovery
  • 5 seconds work - 55 seconds recovery
  • 1-minute work - 1-minute recovery
  • Total Workout Time: 11 minutes

FAQs

Is 20 Minutes of Rowing a Day Enough?

Twenty minutes of rowing a day is enough for improved cardiovascular health and fitness. However, incorporating 10 to 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training can have better effects than simple cardio workouts.

What Exercise Goes Best With Rowing?

It depends on your fitness level, workout routine goals, and what exercise goes best with rowing.

However, if you are actively pursuing a push/pull workout split, I would advise using a vertical or horizontal push exercise such as overhead presses, push-ups, bench presses, dips, or similar.

Can You Get a Flat Stomach From Rowing?

Yes, you can get a flat stomach from rowing. However, a flat stomach is merely a consequence of rowing but of high-quality HIIT rowing machine workout programming principles, diet, and supplementation plan.

Can You Get Toned Just From Rowing?

Yes, you can get toned just from rowing. A 10 to 15-minute HIIT rowing workout routine can burn significant calories, improve your cardiovascular health, and tone your muscles so you look leaner.

What Is Better, Rowing or Running?

Both rowing and running are excellent cardio exercises. You would want to program a HIIT workout with both a running and a rowing machine so you experience the most significant benefits of cardio exercise versatility.

How Can I Increase My Efficiency During HIIT Workouts?

You can increase your efficiency during HIIT workouts by regularly consuming high-quality creatine supplements.

Creatine is one of the most important and fastest energy suppliers in our body and is stored in the form called creatine phosphate (CP) in our muscles.

CP is the fastest adenosine triphosphate synthesizer in the human system, meaning it is excellent for rowing machine HIIT workouts and HIIT training in general.

If you want to improve your rowing machine workouts, read our guide on the best creatine supplements to buy to improve your high-intensity rowing workouts and overall training performance.

Let me know your favorite HIIT rowing workout and why.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215195/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719818/
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