20 Minute HIIT Rowing Workout

Rowing is an awesome exercise. Full body and effective. If you haven't considered trying it, now is your chance with 20 minute HIIT rowing workout.

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Can I ask you a question?

When was the last time you went on a rowing machine?

Or, even thought about trying a rowing machine? Maybe getting one for your home gym?

If your answer is never, or vaguely considered it once...I’m not surprised.

Rowing machines are the most overlooked of cardio machines. Crossfitters love them. Athletes love them. But most gym goers, or home gymers don’t give them a second thought.

But I think you should.

And here’s why…

20 Minute HIIT Rowing Workout: There's three of them...

Jump Straight to the Workouts

Why You Should Do a 20 Minute HIIT Rowing Workout

Rowing machines are awesome.

They’re fun. They’re challenging. They’re bloody hard work. But there’s a reason CrossFitters and athletes like them so much...they are really, really, really effective.

It has been said that each stroke uses 85% of the muscles of your entire body. And that’s across the nine major muscle groups.

And when you think you’ll be doing a stroke rate of approximately 24-30 each minute of your workout, that’s a lot of muscles being used an awful lot.

So, when I say they’re effective, I mean they’re effective.

I’m raving so much because they are a favourite of mine. I’m trying to be unbiased, and present you with the facts that you’ll find helpful, but it’s tough when you know how good something is.

But, I’m going to caveat this with the same thing I caveat everything with...you have to enjoy it.

It’s all very well knowing that something is good for you. Knowing that it’s effective and how it’s going to benefit you. But if you don’t enjoy it, if you don’t look forward to getting on that machine, or the feeling of accomplishment afterwards, then you’re not going to do it.

You’re going to find excuses. Reasons not to do it.

And then it’s not effective at all.

So, let me tell you why I like it so much, and maybe you’ll relate. Or, maybe you’ll think ‘hell no, that’s definitely not for me’. Either way is a success in my book.

Helping you filter out the stuff you’re not going to enjoy is just as important as finding things you will enjoy. Because it saves you time, and money.

So, why do I enjoy rowing so much?

The benefits of rowing, why you should be doing it...

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m not a huge fan of cardio.

Cardio workouts on their own fill me with dread and trepidation. And yes, I stay away from them. I know they’re good for me, but I stay away from them.

But rowing isn’t just a cardio workout. It’s not about an all out slog. Jumping on and seeing how far you can go in half an hour.

Don’t get me wrong, you can do that if you want to, but it’s not just about that.

It’s about power. It’s about strength. It’s about testing yourself and pushing yourself.

As I said, every stroke uses the vast majority of muscles in your body. And for me, that’s just too irresistible.

And they’re really suited to HIIT workouts. In fact they provide the perfect HIIT workout.

To row properly you have to give it your all. Maximum effort. Which you just can’t sustain for long periods of time.

You have to rest.

I’ll go over high-intensity interval training and exactly what they are in a moment, just in case you don’t know, but this type of type of exercise, style of workout, where you have short bursts of intense exercise, is something I particularity enjoy.

I’ve found that I’m not very good a metering myself when it comes to exercise. I’m not very good at starting with a lower intensity and staying there.

I start balls out, and struggle to keep going.

Which is why I love HIIT sessions so much. I know I don’t have to keep going. There’s a rest coming soon.

And the fact that rowing machines are very adaptable, and almost made for HIIT training makes them my natural go to when I’m faced with a choice of machine workouts.

So, that’s why I love rowing so much. Yes there’s going to increase your fitness level, reduce your blood pressure, help with weight loss and fat loss. But honestly, most machine workouts will do that. Rowing workouts do more than all of those things.

They use your muscles. They help you become more powerful. Stronger.

And, they are low impact. There’s no jumping, pounding or jarring on your joints or pelvic floor, if you’ve had issues after pregnancy. In fact, people of all ages can row.

I hope I’ve sparked a bit of interest in you. Because honestly, if you’re pressed for time, or want a challenge you can sink your teeth into, rowing is amazing.

But, that’s not the end of this article.

No sir.

I’ve got lots more to cover with you.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

I’ve covered this so much in all of the pages in the HIIT section, I feel like you must be getting bored. But, I realise you may not have read any of my other pages, so I’m going to cover it again.

If you do know what HIIT is, feel free to skip this section.

HIIT is a form of training that involves giving your maximum effort for a short period of time and then you’re given a little rest.

A few seconds of rest to reduce your heart rate slightly.

And then you go again.

Short intervals of intense work and a short rest. Intense work, short rest. Keep repeating until you’re done.

HIIT workouts have many benefits, not least of which, they’re amazing for weight loss and fat loss.

I go into the benefits of a HIIT workout here. So, if you’re not familiar with HIIT do have a read.

What You Will Doing for Your 20 Minute HIIT Rowing Workout

Rowing technique: How to do it properly

Rowing Technique

As always, if you’re struggling with good technique on any of these exercises please consult a personal trainer. If you can’t, or don’t want to see one locally, then do get in touch. I’d be happy to make sure you’ve got good form.

The thing with rowing is, you can’t just get on the machine and start.

Well, you can, but you won’t be getting the most out of it, or your body.

Rowing is quite technical.

One of the other things I really love about it.

There are a few stages of the rowing machine technique, the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery.

You essentially want this movement to flow smoothly using this sequence of movement, legs, arms, arms, legs.

So, you drive with your legs first then lean slightly back as you add in the arms.

The finish position is your legs fully extended, leaning slightly back, using your core muscles for support, your arms, with your hands gripping the handle, or close to your body just under your ribs.

The recovery movement is, extend your arms until they are straight at which point you start to lean forward at your hips. Once your hands have cleared your knees, bend your knees as you come closer to the fly wheel.

Then there’s the catch, at this point your arms should be straight and your legs bent. Your torso should be bent forward making sure your shoulders are straight and not hunched forward. Your shins should be roughly vertical as you prepare yourself for the drive.

A few points to remember, make sure your wrists are in line with your forearms, the chain is in line with the middle of your body and you don’t lean too far, either forward or back. And, as with every other exercise I’ve written about, keep your core engaged, to protect your lower back.

Rowing is very technical. But with practice you’ll get it.

But, the 20 minute HIIT rowing workout below aren’t just about rowing. There are some bodyweight exercises thrown in as well, for good measure.

So, you’ll want to know how to do those, won’t you...


Lay on the floor with your hands under your shoulders.

Engage your abdominal muscles, curl your toes under and push yourself up so that your arms are straight and your body is in a straight line, and you are resting on your hands and your toes.

Hold this position, keeping your core engaged and your shoulder blades back and down at all times.


How to do a squat

Standing with your feet hip-width apart, engage your core and sink your bum backwards, bending your knees and your hips.

Keeping your chest up, sink back until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Return to a standing position by pushing through your heels and straightening your knees and hips.

Push Ups

Starting in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your core engaged.

Keeping your elbows close to your body, bend them through a 90-degree angle until your chest comes close to the floor.

Push yourself back up, straightening your elbows and returning to the starting position.

The most important thing here is to get your chest as close to the floor as possible. If you need to put your knees down to do this, then you should do that.

Best Rowing Machine Workouts: The Workouts

This is what you’ve been waiting for isn’t it?

The workouts. They fun part.

I’ve changed the format of these workouts slightly, as in, they’re 20 minutes long instead of 15 minutes.

Not just one 20 minute HIIT rowing workout, but three. 


Because I’m aware that some people would prefer a slightly longer workout. You have a few more minutes to spare, but not enough to run two 15 minute workouts together.

And 20 minutes is a good time for rowing.

It allows you to get properly exhausted.

If you haven’t got 20 minutes, then just adjust the times slightly.

Workout 1: 20 Minute Rowing Workout AMRAP

Simple 20 Minute Rowing workout

For this 20 minute HIIT rowing workout complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes.

There is rest scheduled in with this one, so try and get to the end of the row before you slow down. If you can’t, don’t worry. You’ll get there.

  • Row 500 metres
  • Rest for 1 minute

Workout 2: Row and Plank 20-minute workout

20 Minute HIIT Rowing and Plank Workout

This 20 minute HIIT rowing workout is a bit of fun. Again keep going for 20 minutes, so it’s like an AMRAP.

There’s an added bonus...the faster you row, the less time you’ll have to hold the plank.

  • Row 250 metres taking a note how long it took you
  • Hold a plank for that amount of time

Workout 3: Rowing Machine HIIT Workout

HIIT Rowing and Bodyweight Workout

This 20 minute HIIT rowing workout has a couple more bodyweight exercises thrown in.

They’re there to make sure all of your muscles are getting a workout and that it’s sufficiently tough. But, feel free to change them, add more.

This is a basis for you to work from.


  • 2 Minutes of rowing
  • 2 minutes of squats
  • 2 minutes of rowing
  • 2 minutes of squats
  • 2 minutes of rowing
  • Rest 1 minute

Round 2

  • 2 Minutes of rowing
  • 2 minutes of push ups
  • 2 Minutes of rowing
  • 2 minutes of push ups
  • 2 minutes of rowing
  • Rest 1 minute

20 Minute HIIT Rowing Workout

I do hope you give rowing a try.

It’s a brilliant way to workout. Getting your entire body moving and working.

If you give any of these a go, please let me know how you get on. Tag me on social media @mamasthatmove, or send me an e-mail.

If you enjoyed a 20 minute HIIT rowing workout and you want more, sign up for my newsletter and get the Ultimate 8 week training plan as a thank you.

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