Doing HIIT on a Rower is Great Full Body and Cardio Exercise

If you own a rowing machine such as the Concept2 Rower, you probably love how rowing with it feels like you’re out on the water.  But did you know you can also use your rowing machine to make use of HIIT workouts?

You can!

What, exactly, are HIIT workouts?

HIIT workouts – or High Intensity Interval Training – involve alternating between short periods of intense exercise with less intense periods of recovery.

It’s said that HIIT workouts can help to boost the amount of calories you burn because they disturb the body’s homeostasis, or stable internal state, and it takes more oxygen and energy for it to go back to normal, as Vox reports.

They also have other benefits, such as improving your muscles’ oxygen usage and reducing your blood pressure, as Healthline reports.

If you’re interested in rowing and HIIT, then you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got all the best HIIT rowing exercises to boost your workout.

Why Rowing Is Great To Do With HIIT

Concept 2 Rower

You might be wondering why rowing is an exercise that works well with HIIT workouts.

The answer to that comes down to how rowing is already an excellent way to burn calories because it’s an all-body exercise.

When you use a rowing machine, you can also increase your speed in a safe environment and control it easier so it’s perfect for using HIIT.

Five HIIT Rowing Exercises To Try

While the thought of HIIT exercise on your rowing machine might seem intense, the key is to work according to your current fitness level and rowing experience.

Here are HIIT rowing exercises to try your hand at according to your rowing fitness level.

For Beginners: The Explosive Rowing Exercise

Man On The Concept 2 Rower

For this exercise, you’re going to start by rowing at a comfortable speed for about three minutes. This provides you with a good warmup.

  • When the three minutes are up, start to row as fast as you can for 60 seconds. You can pretend to be in the last phase of a rowing race to motivate you to pick up speed.
  • Once your minute is done, slow your pace down for another 60 seconds.
  • When those 60 seconds are done, you should quicken your pace again, rowing faster for 60 seconds.
  • As a beginner, you should do this for three sets. (More advanced rowers can do 10 sets.)

For Beginners: The 30-90 HIIT Rowing Workout

There’s another exercise you can do when it comes to HIIT and rowing. It’s called the 30-90 workout. Here’s how it works.

  • For 30 seconds, do slow rowing – you should aim for about 20 pulling actions in 30 seconds. The key is to make the most of the movements by really pushing and pulling hard so that you work your muscles.
  • Then, slow down even more for 90 seconds. You should take your time on every pull and push in the rowing machine. This part of the HIIT workout is active recovery.
  • For another 30 seconds, go back to doing slow rowing like you did in the first step of this exercise.
  • For another 90 seconds, repeat the really slow movements.
  • For another 30 seconds, increase the slightly faster rowing, focusing on really giving your muscles a workout.
  • You can continue doing this a few more times, but stop when you feel you can’t keep going.

Although this exercise doesn’t seem too strenuous, you’re sure to feel the effects of it in your muscles because you’re concentrating on putting your energy into every movement.

If you want a more intermediate exercise you can increase the amount of rounds that you do.

For Intermediaries: Mix It Up

Woman on Rowing Machine

If you’re comfortable with beginner rowing HIIT workouts, you should add something new and a bit more challenging to them. Here’s an idea: add extra exercises to your workout to really feel the burn in your muscles.

This HIIT workout is also a bit longer, so it’s perfect for intermediaries.

  • Start by rowing at a comfortable pace for a distance of about 200m or 250m.
  • Take a 20-second break.
  • Get off your rowing machine and do 20 pushups.
  • Take a 20-second break.
  • Get back onto your rowing machine and repeat the exercise.

The great thing about this exercise routine is that you can mix it up even more, such as by adding faster rowing sessions if you like. In addition, bringing other exercises into your HIIT will work other muscles in your body.

For Intermediaries: The Distance-Increaser Workout

In this rowing HIIT workout, you will increase your distance slowly over time.

  • Start by rowing 100 meters and then rest for one minute.
  • Row for another 200 meters and then rest for one minute.
  • Row for 300 meters and then rest for one minute.
  • You can continue doing this for 400 and 500 meters, or for however long you can go but the key is to always rest for one minute between them. However, try to stick to doing this within 20 minutes, so see how many rounds you can do within that timeframe.

Start slowly and warm up for the first 100 or even 200 meters of the workout.

If you want to row slowly for every round, you can do that. However, if you’re an intermediate or even an expert, you can increase your speed for every round if you like to really give your body a boost in your workout.

For Experts: Do 30-20-10 Intervals

30 20 10 Intervals

For this HIIT rowing exercise, you should start by rowing slowly for 30 seconds.

Then, increase your speed so that it’s moderate for 20 seconds. Finally, row as fast as you can for 10 seconds.

What makes it hard to do is that you have to do five of these intervals without taking a break. Afterwards, rest for two minutes.

Repeat as many times as you can manage.

Pro tip: To make your HIIT rowing exercises more intense, such as if you’re progressing from beginner to intermediate or expert, you can use the same exercises but just increase the number of rounds you complete or decrease the amount of time in which you rest. For example, instead of rowing for one minute and resting for two, you could row for one minute and then rest for one minute. It’s important to prevent fitness or weight-loss plateau by decreasing the amount of rest.

General Tips For Maximizing Your HIIT Rowing Workouts

To make sure you have enough energy for your workouts, make sure you follow these tips.

  • Eat carbs and protein half an hour before exercising. This will give you the energy you need to ensure you can complete your workout. Great snack ideas include Greek yogurt with almonds in it, or whole-wheat bread with peanut butter and a banana.
  • Don’t skip warming up. Since rowing and HIIT target many muscles in the body, you have to ensure you warm up for between two and five minutes before you start your workout.
  • Don’t make it too easy. If you can sail through your workout, it’s time to give yourself a bigger challenge and make the workout a bit harder because otherwise you won’t reap the benefits of HIIT.

Related Questions

Storing Concept 2

Can You Do HIIT Rowing Every Day?

Although you can do HIIT every day, you should limit yourself to doing it three times a week. This is to ensure you make the most of the workout without making your body too tired.

How Long Should HIIT Rowing Workouts Last?

Generally, HIIT sessions can last between four and 15 minutes, so use that as a guide.

However, you can make them last for longer, but don’t make them longer than 30 minutes as that can lead to overworking your body and could even risk injury.

How Can You Prevent Injuries When Using a Rowing Machine?

Rowing can be stressful on your back so if you feel aches and pains in your back then it’s a good idea to rest for a few days.

To prevent knee problems, make sure you stretch between workouts and add resistance training to your workout to strengthen your joints.


Rowing a fantastic exercise that works various muscles in your body.

You can make it even more effective by incorporating HIIT into your rowing exercises.

In this article, we’ve featured some of the best rowing HIIT rowing exercises to try, whether you’re a beginner or pro.

We’ve also looked at some important tips to follow to make the most of your HIIT rowing workout routine so you can reap the benefits, such as increased calorie burn.