Improve Your In-Season Conditioning With This Rowing Workout

STACK Expert Erick Avila discusses the benefits of rowing on an ergometer as a workout finisher or an active recovery tool.

More strength and power athletes such as football and baseball players are using rowing machines as an in-season conditioning tool. They face an interesting dilemma: During the season, they're short on time, which makes long aerobic training sessions difficult to fit into their schedules. But sprinting, which is an excellent high-intensity conditioning method, might be too high-impact.

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Furthermore, these types of athletes need to maintain their strength and power at the highest levels, so preserving their muscle mass is a concern.

To address these issues, many of these athletes are turning to rowing ergometers as an in-season conditioning tool.

Try this workout either as a finisher after a strength-training session or an active recovery day during the week.

Rowing Machines

Total Body

Part of why rowing is such an effective conditioning workout for strength athletes is because it's a total-body movement. This means that if your rowing workout can be done on an "active recovery" day, it will get more blood flow going to all your body's major muscle groups, allowing these muscles to recover faster. From a programming aspect, rowing as a total-body workout also makes it easier to incorporate into a workout, because you minimize the risk of having a program be lower- or upper-body dominant. Most traditional cardio machines, like the stair climber and treadmill, are lower-body dominant, which can be tough to include in a program when you're also doing heavy Squats and Deadlifts.

RELATED: 5 Common Rowing Machine Mistakes Beginners Make

Power Endurance

Power athletes are often expected to perform explosive movements over the course of an entire game. Think of linemen attacking each other in the trenches every play, or a hard-throwing pitcher who wants to continue throwing heat in the late innings. To do this, athletes must develop their power endurance. Rowing workouts are perfect for this, since rowing is a power-endurance sport. Rowers maintain a high power output for an extended period.

Low Impact

Cam Newton on a Rowing Machine

All athletes must consider their long-term health and longevity when training. For power athletes, both skills and weight room training can be highly intense, which leads to a sore body. Rowing is a great addition to a program as a conditioning tool, because it has a lower impact than running or sprinting, yet it can be performed at aerobic and anaerobic paces, allowing for similar cardiovascular benefits.

RELATED: Why You Should Try Rowing for Cardio

Try this rowing workout either on active recovery days or as a finisher at the end of your strength training sessions.


  • 400 meters
  • 3 minutes rest
  • 300 meters
  • 2 minutes rest
  • 200 meters
  • 1 minute rest
  • 100 meters

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