This killer rowing machine workout adds bodyweight exercises to torch fat AND build strength

Our 20-minute calorie-burning rowing machine and bodyweight workout will make you sweat

A man working out on a rowing machine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to sweat, torch calories and build strength in one 20-minute workout, then you've come to the right place...

We've devised an easy way to up the ante during your next rowing machine workout, simply by adding in some rounds of bodyweight exercises.

Thanks to its aerobic nature, a session on the rowing machine has always been a great fat-burning choice.

'Rowing is a total body workout, which recruits a huge amount of muscle, especially the legs,’ explains Lawrence Hannah, Founder and CEO of Metabolic London. ‘What’s more, it places a big demand on your cardiovascular system, so it’s a great way to improve heart health.’

Another plus-point is that rowing is fairly low impact, so it won’t cause damage to your joints. 

But throw in some bodyweight exercises and your rowing machine workout is elevated to a whole other level. These exercises build on the cardiovascular endurance and heart-rate elevation (key for fat burn) that rowing promotes, whilst also working on total-body muscle strength at the same time. Winning!

20-minute rowing and bodyweight workout

Below, we've outlined a quick rowing-and-bodyweight routine that will make you break a sweat and burn major calories. You can do it using a rower in the gym or in the comfort of your own home, if you have a machine (check out our pick of the best rowing machines for home use if you're considering a purchase).

You'll do five rounds of rowing intervals, each of increasing distance, with a round of squats, push-ups and burpees in-between each.

Lawrence says: ‘This is a killer, and a 20-minute time cap is a pretty tasty target to hit. Depending on your fitness, you can increase or decrease the number of bodyweight movements.'

Ready to go? Here's your workout plan...

  • 200m row followed by 20 squats, 10 push-ups and five burpees 
  • 400m row followed by 20 squats, 10 push-ups and five burpees 
  • 600m row followed by 20 squats, 10 push-ups and five burpees 
  • 800m row followed by 20 squats, 10 push-ups and five burpees 
  • 1,000m row followed by 20 squats, 10 push-ups and five burpees

Throughout the workout, remember to maintain correct rowing machine form to help avoid injury and ensure you reap the benefits of this full-body machine.

Lawrence explains: ‘Lots of people make the mistake of rowing with the upper body, but if the form is practised correctly, more power actually comes from the legs.’

A simple step-by-step including pointers to keep in mind includes: 

  • Place feet into the foot straps and secure. To begin the stroke, grab the handlebars. Do this without over-reaching or curving the back – keep back and arms straight. Shins should be vertical.
  • Press through the legs and drive back so legs are outstretched, then keeping shoulders relaxed, pull the arms back too, so the handle is held lightly below the ribs.
  • Finally, to complete the stroke, extend arms until they straighten before bending knees and allowing the seat to slide forward. 
Lucy Gornall
Lucy Gornall

Lucy is Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, and also Editor of Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food, and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.