Bored at the Gym? Try This Rowing Workout!

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Good morning! Happy Hump Day!

[image source]


Yesterday’s breakfast kind of bombed, but it still tasted delicious. I made Plantain Pancakes with Maple Coconut Cream and Toasted Walnuts again, but I was impatient and turned up the heat too high on the stove, so my pancakes stuck to the pan and fell apart. I wasn’t about to waste food, so I put the pieces in a bowl, added some Maple Coconut Cream on top, and ate them right up. Delish!



After breakfast, I headed to CrossFit for a workout, which was mostly rowing (15-minute warm-up + 15-minute rowing technique + 25-minute rowing WOD + 5-minute mobility).

CrossFit rowers

Except for a brief stint with crew in college (I rowed for like a month before I realized I preferred boozing-face to early wake-up calls), I never really used an erg (aka indoor rowing machine). Most of the gyms I belonged to over the years had one or two, but I never used them. I didn’t know how and I didn’t think it would be much of a workout. I mean, I always saw old people using the rowing machine.

Since starting CrossFit, however, I quickly learned that rowing is quite a good (ok, ass-kicking) workout. Rowing helps build and tone muscles, strengthens cardio capacity, and increases stamina. Rowing also burns some serious calories. An intense workout on a rowing machine can burn up to 125 calories in 15 minutes or about 500 calories in an hour! [source] That’s almost as much as running!

With that said, here’s the workout we did at CrossFit yesterday in a pin- and printer-friendly format. “Rest 1:1” means you’ll rest for as long as it takes you to row, so, for example, it took me 4:00 to row 1000 meters, so I rested for 4:00 before rowing 500 meters. As you can see, you’ll row for a shorter and shorter distance, so you’ll want to pick up the pace, but your rest time is less, so the workout actually gets quite a bit harder as you progress. My quads were on fire during it!


If you’re new to rowing, check out this video with CrossFit Rowing Coach Shane Farmer, who gives some tips and drills for perfecting your rowing.


After CrossFit, I was really hungry, but it was only 10:45, so I made myself a snack: cantaloupe with avocado, lemon, and honey. Ok, this probably sounds like a weird mix of ingredients, but I swear it was really good!


  • 1 cup chunked cantaloupe
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey

Directions: Mix lemon juice and honey together and then toss with cantaloupe and avocado. Eat!

cantaloupe_ _avocado

Question of the Day

Do you ever use the rowing machine/erg for your workouts?

P.S. For the pug people: Introspective Pug Is Introspective About Being A Pug



  1. Rowing KILLS ME. I try to use the excuse of being short, but damn, if anything gets me winded fast, it’s the erg. Since it kills me and i hate it so much, if the option is to run or row, i will usually ROW…even though I don’t want to, but just to work on it. It’s such a killer. I cannot breathe and then my ass afterwards? holy hell

  2. Thank you for posting this!
    I was recently injured and discovered the amazingness of the rowing machine! It’s a shame they are always unoccupied at the gym becuase like you said, they are a killer workout.
    I had a very hard time finding rowing workouts online, so this is fantastic!

  3. I HATE the rowing machine. As in, I’d rather do anything else. We used to do it for 2 minutes in the weight room during sets for swimming and I couldn’t stand it. It was boring to me and I got tired so quickly that I just hated it!! Haha love the pug picture!

  4. I used the rower a lot when I wanted a way to be off my feet on cross training days. Like any workout, it’s what you put into it. The old people give it a bad rap by “casually trolling” – it’s tough!

  5. Yeah! to the rower. I’ve been ‘taking up’ rowing in the last few weeks, starting in wee increments I have bad knees and a tendency to do something wrong and hurt myself. I ‘ve been studying up on rowing videos and reading about it. Proudly this week I did a 15 minute set, got up (low squat) and did 30 pushups and 30 squats . Then I got back on and did another 5 and got up (another very low squat ) to workout with weights for another 45 minutes. I burned over 105 calories in that first 15 minutes of rowing and wasn’t even pushing myself because I was considering it all as a little warm up to my wt training.

  6. Ha ha my bf frequently scolds me when I get impatient and try to cook my pancakes at high heat, too! I have turned many a pancake fail into a bowl of deliciousness…I just call it a breakfast scramble like your sweet breakfast scramble! It was my ‘intention’ all along of course 🙂 And I love weird combos- that sounds yummy! PS- just had my first crossfit elements class and I loved it!!

  7. We haven’t used the rower in a CrossFit WOD yet at our box (probably because we only have 3 of them right now and waaaayyy more than 3 people in a class) but after a WOD sometimes I want to do a little something extra so I’ll make a mini workout, i.e. 3 rounds: 250m row and 15 box jumps. Something to incorporate the rower…

  8. I aboslutely LOVE rowing! In high school, I trained to go to the Canada Games for rowing and broke my ankle a week before the games started 🙁 My biggest pet peeve about rowing though it watching people do it incorrectly.

  9. I LOVE rowing workouts in crossfit. However, the ones at my regular gym are completely busted and no one seems to care. I should start hounding them to replace them!

  10. I used the rowing machine sometimes when I worked out with a personal trainer, and then a couple months ago when anything else hurt my IT band. I actually really like it! But we only have one machine in my huge gym, which is annoying. I’ll have to give this workout a try, already pinned!

  11. Thanks for posting the video (and workout!). I use the rowing machine every now and then but should use it more regularly. I know it’s a great workout!

  12. Plantain pancakes, huh? I do not think that I have ever eaten a plantain. How does it taste compared to a banana?

    I would never think to combine cantaloupe and avocado, but I LOVE both of them so I am thinking I might have to give this a try :).

  13. i started forcing myself to row more during crossfit to help build my endurance since i am not much into running outside in chicago in wintertime… so I have supplemented my running cardio with rowing and it has been working well! Hard workout and it is so customizable. Love/hate relationship 😉

  14. I just tried the rowing machine for the first time on Sunday at the gym. After 5 mins I was wiped. I went on it because my husband was not done yet and I thought it was worth the try! I think I did 1000m in that 5 mins. The next two days I would really feel it in my upper back. I am going to keep using it now.

  15. I tried the rowing machine once years ago as a total newbie. I’m sure everyone could tell too because I didn’t keep my back straight and was moving everything back and forth! Ha Ha

    Maple coconut cream – oooooh wow I really need to try this!!

  16. I use the rowing machine at my gym for quick but sweat-inducing warm-ups. Rowing for more than 2000 m is incredibly challenging for me. I usually try to challenge myself to do that distance in 8:30 min. One day I’ll get under that time! I watched the video you posted, too, and the first drill gives instructions for “feet-out” rowing. That seems conducive to injury, but maybe it’s worth a shot. Have you tried that form, Tina?

    1. I haven’t yet, but in the video it’s a drill to practice so you don’t pull yourself forward with them. Typically, you row with your feet in the straps.

  17. I rowed crew in college, and we were on the erg all the time. We would have time trials and people would be throwing up after – it was intense. I should get back on, but I haven’t in years.

  18. My gym has a rowing machine but it is one that is attached to the lat pull down machine like at the bottom. The reason I say this is, it doesn’t tell you how far you row. Do you know of a way I could figure out how far i’m rowing because this workout looks awesome!! If you could help that would be great!! 😀

  19. First of all… “booze to face”>lacrosse was my decision in college. I feel you.

    Secondly, I row almost every other day and I KNEW I was doing it wrong but was never corrected. I send my praises for passing along this video. Thank you thank you!

  20. I always really enjoy rowing as part of crossfit workouts. There’s really no reason why I don’t row outside of corssfit, I guess I always just run instead, but your rowing workout has inspired me!

  21. I’ve always wanted to use the rowing machine as a workout! I’ve seen so many great things about it, and have just felt a tad nervous about my form. This workout is motivating me to ask someone at the gym to show me the correct form just in case and that way I’ll feel confident in doing it 🙂

  22. I love rowing! I row using my bowflex, and I LOVE it! I recently bought an attachment to strap in the feet, and the coach is quite right, wow! Previously your feet just rest on the foot bar, so you really have t practice good form. I know all that time without a strap has helped me with my rowing for sure!

  23. I love rowing and always forget what a great workout it can be! I feel like the rowers are always put in the corners in gyms and are so easy to overlook. Great reminder!

  24. Oh, the erg. That thing and I have a twisted history. I rowed for a year and a half of college and only lasted that long because I was too prideful to quit. We spent hours and hours during the fall, winter, and spring in what was called the “sweatshop” (seriously) erging our hearts out. These days, although I agree it’s a great workout, I can’t stand to use it for longer than about ten minutes. PTSD, I guess…

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  26. We had the machines in our weight room back in high school. I’ve never thought to much into them. During volleyball practice and weight training we were instructed to use them but none of us really took it seriously. I wish I would have so after reading this article I think I am going to give them another row, so to say.

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