21-Day Training Plan for Rowing Machine Anyone Can Do

Rowing Plan at a glanceRowing, one of the oldest Olympic sports, is enjoyed by millions of people each year. Its popularity has risen due to the rowing focus found in CrossFit—and TV cameos like House of Cards! The low-impact nature of the rowing machine, coupled with its low rating of perceived exertion (how hard the activity feels), makes it a great cross-training option for exercisers of any age or ability.

A major benefit of rowing is the emphasis on the motions we typically neglect in daily life, such as the opening of the chest, strengthening of the entire backside of the body, and core stability. The rowing motion can help strengthen and stretch muscles necessary to combat prolonged sitting and poor posture prevalent in today’s society.

The 500-meter split is a common metric used in rowing, so that’s what we’re going to track here, to gauge your progress. As you become more efficient and powerful with your rowing, the time it takes you to cover 500 meters will go down. The 21-day rowing plan we’ve put together will help you do just that while strengthening you from head to toe and burning tons of calories. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in just 21 days! Just make sure you know how to row properly first.

Our rowing training plan features four workouts:

  1. Rowing + Strength Workout – An express 30-minute cardio workout with small bouts of strength and mobility work to break up your time rowing.
  2. Strength Workout – A quick, full-body workout using a suspension trainer (i.e. TRX) to challenge you from head to toe.
  3. Cardio Workout – A modular, 45-minute endurance cardio workout of your choice. It can be shortened if needed.
  4. Core Workout – A short workout focused on core and mobility. Add cardio to this workout (preferably rowing!) if time permits.

Here’s a preview of the interactive fitness plan, where you can click on each day for direction:


Day 1: Rowing + Strength for 30 Min, Day 2: Active Rest, Day 3: Strength for 30 Min, Day 4 Cardio for 45 minutes, Day 5 Active Rest, Day 6 Core for 20 minutes, Day 7 Active Rest, Day 8 Rowing + Strength for 30 Minutes.

Training Plan

While only one workout directly features rowing, you can add rowing to the Rowing + Strength and Core workouts. Otherwise, we’ve kept the duration of each workout relatively short (except for the endurance cardio day). Of course, everyone’s starting point and abilities are different, so do what you can to begin and then build from there. You’ll be progressing in no time.

Remember: Make sure to track your 500-meter split times to see how far you’ve come!

Go to the Rowing Training Plan


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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the VP of Fitness Programming for the FIT4MOM® franchise. For more than two decades, she has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, and BOSU® as a fitness business and programming consultant. An experienced educator, freelance writer, and certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. Fable serves as Vice Chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the founder and co-owner of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool.