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Paul_D's picture
Rowing Machine - help/tips

As my MA training is usually stop/start in nature (as the instructor stops the class to demonstrate techniques etc) my cardio fitness is somewhat lacking.  In an attempt to improve this I picked up a cheap rowing machine.  Whilst I am ok with the correct technique of how to row on it, I am in the dark as to how to go about using it effectively to improve my cardio.  I am sure, as with most things, there is a correct way to get the most out of the equipment,

Just completely guessing I have proposed to row for 5 mins slowly (to warm up) 5 mins medium pace, 5 mins quickly, 5 mins medium pace, 5 mins slowly (to cool down).  Once I find the 5 minutes fast in easier, maybe increase it to 10 minutes.   I am also not sure of the frequenting of using it either, I am guessing 2-3 times a week?

As I say though I am guessing, so if anyone has any experience/suggestions they would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I use the rowing machine a lot. For health purposes, I like to do 5K as that takes me around 20 mins. I also like to use the cross-trainer too (like the rower, it does not aggravate prior injuries to knees and back). I will do 20 to 30 mins of CV training each day (in addition to martial arts, weights, etc). My traveling and teaching schedule means that normally get done 5 days a week.

To make it a bit more martial, I will do 2K as quick as I can (normally around the 7.5 mins mark for me). That gets pretty anaerobic and brings up that internal conflict (the inner voice that wants me to back off the intensity). And on the days were I want something very martial, I will do a tabata i.e. 20 seconds with all I have, 10 seconds rest, and repeat eight times. That’s “just” four minutes, but it is hell on earth because of the super high-intensity. Something to be built up to!

Assuming you are in good health, I’d start doing it every other day for 20 mins or so at a intensity level that leaves you sweaty and breathing heavily. If you want to be more scientific about it, you can work out your maximum heart rate (220 – your age) and work to 70 to 80% of that. So, if you are 40 years old, your MHR is 180. So, you want to keep your hear rate between 126 and 144 beats per minute for 20 to 30 mins. A heart rate monitor is a good investment. Failing that, take your pulse for 10 seconds every 5 mins, and make sure your heart beats between 20 and 25 times. After a while, you just “know” that you’ve got the intensity right.

All the best,


Paul_D's picture

Thank you, that's very helpful, much appreciated.