4 Best Rowing Crossfit Workouts (Conditioning & Endurance)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: February 19, 2024
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Rowing is a staple exercise in almost every CrossFit workout and is excellent for developing strength and conditioning.

After conducting thorough research and using my knowledge as a professional coach, I compiled a list of 4 small CrossFit workouts.

These workouts are excellent for developing aerobic and anaerobic conditioning and will help you progress to a more serious and advanced CrossFit workout.

After reading the article, you will know how to execute all four CrossFit workouts and gain insights on the most important supplements to support those workouts.

Quick Summary

  • The four best rowing CrossFit workouts are Chopper, Thruster, Freshener, and Vanilla, each designed to enhance conditioning and endurance in unique ways.
  • The Chopper Rowing Workout effectively improves mental and physical endurance through its varied rep ranges and exercises.
  • According to the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, maintaining engaged abs during rowing and exercises is crucial for supporting the lumbar back and preventing injury.
  • In my opinion, the Thruster Rowing Workout stands out for its ability to build anaerobic endurance, making it an essential part of any CrossFit routine.

Chopper Rowing Workout

Performing Chopper Rowing Workout

From my coaching experience, the Chopper Rowing Workout's diverse rep ranges have consistently challenged and improved my client's mental and physical endurance.

You should keep your core engaged during the workout to avoid injury and support the rowing stroke and proper rowing technique.

Keeping your back flat will also prevent injury when rowing and performing kettlebell swings, according to the Sensors [1].

To optimize your rowing technique in CrossFit, consider incorporating rhythm drills, such as alternating between lower and higher stroke rates, and utilizing rowing performance metrics like strokes per minute and split time to effectively gauge and improve your progress.

The whole workout goes as follows:

  • Air squats - 50 reps
  • 25-calorie row
  • The Russian kettlebell swing - 40 reps
  • 20-calorie row
  • Sit-ups - 30 reps
  • 15-calorie row
  • Push-ups - 20 reps
  • 10-calorie row
  • Burpees - 10 reps
  • Jelly maker rowing workout - Complete a total of 150 air squats, 2000m row, 150 air squats

Thruster Rowing Workout

Performing Thruster Rowing Workout

In my training sessions, the Thruster Rowing Workout has been a game changer for building anaerobic endurance, especially in the significant improvements seen in my clients.

Here is what the entire workout looks like:

  1. Rowing - 1000 m
  2. Thrusters - 50 reps
  3. Pull-ups - 30 reps

You should keep your abs engaged while on the rowing machine and throughout all exercises to support your lumbar back and avoid injury, according to the Journal of Physical Therapy Science [2].

Since many of you will be tired after the 1000-meter row, there is a big chance you will compromise the technique of thrusters, so below, we will cover all the necessary steps to finish the second section of the workout without any injuries.

Boost your cross-fit performance by focusing on the efficiency of your rowing and biking. Remember to maintain a tall, upright posture, keep your eyes forward for better breathing, and synchronize your breathing with your movements for enhanced endurance.

How to Perform Thrusters

  1. Assume a standing position in front of the loaded barbell.
  2. Pick a barbell off the ground and place it on your shoulders, just like when you finish performing a barbell clean.
  3. Start the exercise by lowering yourself into the front squat position without caving your knees inward or rounding your back.
  4. When you reach a deep squat position, reverse the motion to return to a fully standing position.
  5. Push the barbell above your head by abducting your shoulders and fully extending your elbows.
  6. Return the barbell to the starting position and repeat the whole process while keeping your back flat and your core engaged.

Freshener Rowing Workout

A Freshener rowing workout is another excellent combination of exercises to build lean muscle endurance through a steady rowing rhythm.

Having incorporated the Freshener Rowing Workout into routines, I've observed remarkable gains in lean muscle endurance among my athletes.

Aim to squeeze your shoulder blades at the end of each row instead of focusing on shrugging them.

Here is the entire workout:

  • 1000-meter row + 20 push-ups + 20 squats
  • 900-meter row + 18 push-ups + 18 squats
  • 800-meter row + 16 push-ups + 16 squats
  • 700-meter row + 14 push-ups + 14 squats
  • 600-meter row + 12 push-ups + 12 squats
  • 500-meter row + 10 push-ups + 10 squats
  • 400-meter row + 8 push-ups + 8 squats
  • 300-meter row + 6 push-ups + 6 squats
  • 200-meter row + 4 push-ups + 4 squats
  • 100-meter row + 2 push-ups + 2 squats

"Rowing CrossFit Workouts are a great way to build your upper body conditioning and test your mental toughness."

- Robbie Wild Hudson, Certified Personal Trainer

Vanilla Rowing Workout

Performing Vanilla Rowing Workout

The vanilla rowing workout is the last one on our list and is the best for developing aerobic endurance since it combines running and rowing only.

In my professional experience, the Vanilla Rowing Workout, with its focus on running and rowing, has consistently proven to be highly effective in enhancing aerobic endurance in athletes.

This CrossFit workout will be challenging for your entire body, so you should prepare yourself adequately and drink plenty of water for proper hydration during the workout.

A nice water bottle with electrolytes will help you stay hydrated throughout the workout and avoid negative side effects.

If the running mile is too much for you initially, you may lower and adjust it according to your current conditioning level.

Here is the entire workout:

  • Running - 1 mile
  • Rowing - 2000 meter
  • Running - 1 mile

Related: HIIT Rowing Workout


Is Rowing Good for CrossFit?

Yes, rowing is good for CrossFit. Rowing can be used for strength and conditioning and is an excellent way to burn sufficient calories.

Incorporate kettlebell swings into your CrossFit rowing workout to enhance aerobic fitness, and include rowing machine exercises in your rowing WODs for conditioning and endurance.

How Long Do You Row in CrossFit?

In CrossFit, you can row for more than 6 minutes. However, only competitive male and female RX CrossFitters can have less than 6 minutes due to their extreme conditioning.

Improve your muscular endurance with rowing machines, as they offer a full-body workout along with other movements suitable for your fitness level in these CrossFit rowing workouts.

Can I Get Ripped Rowing?

Yes, you can get ripped by rowing. However, a full-body split weightlifting routine is much better for getting ripped than rowing.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8402067/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4395677/
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