Core + Cardio Circuit with the Rower

Bear Crunches using a rower (from Core + Cardio Circuit Workout with the Rowing Machine)It’s the official first day of the month-long challenges for everyone playing along! Stay on track towards your goal all week and there will be a kickass giveaway for you to enter on Sunday. I’ll share one of the prizes (there are several) now to spark your motivation: class at your favorite local fitness studio (any studio you choose).

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite way to use a rower is in short bursts, as one station in a circuit. Rowing Whoops. Your. Butt. And legs, and arms, and core…

Today I’m sharing a circuit focusing on core work, but trust me, your legs are going to be jello as well from the long(er)-distance cardio sprints. You can use this circuit format with any of your favorite exercises if you’d rather target arms or full-body off the rower.

Core + Cardio Circuit with the Rower

Equipment I Used:

  • WaterRower GX (use whatever rowing machine you have access to!)
  • 10-lb medicine ball
  • Exercise mat

You’ll go through the following circuit 5 times. Every round of rowing, the distance you race gets shorter and shorter. Your first time through the circuit, you’ll row 500 meters. The second time: 400 meters. And so on, down to a 100-meter sprint to finish the fifth and final round. Here’s the simple breakdown of the circuit (detailed exercise description below the pictorial):

  • 60-sec plank
  • 50 Russian twists with medicine ball (25 to each side)
  • 25 Bear crunches on the rower
  • Fast sprint on the rower (distance gets shorter every time you go through the circuit: 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m)

Core + Cardio Circuit Workout with the Rowing Machine

60-sec Plank | You can do it from your forearms or hands, up to you. If you need to modify, hold the plank from your knees (just make sure you’re not sticking your butt up in the air—abs should still be engaged!).

50 Russian Twists | Start seated, holding the medicine ball in both hands at your chest, feet lifted off the ground with your knees bent. Lean back slightly, core engaged, balancing on your tailbone. Twist to one side, bringing the medicine ball to the outer side of that hip; then repeat in the other direction. Really twist at the waist—you want your chest to be totally facing whatever side you’re bringing the ball.

25 Bear Crunches on the Rower | Start in a plank position with your feet on the seat of the rower, hands on the floor off the back. Keeping your hips level with your shoulders, back flat, slide your feet forward, bending your knees in towards your elbows. Slide feet back out, straightening your legs into plank position. Two most common errors while doing this are lifting the booty up as your feet slide in and letting the low back arch down towards the floor. Pull your abs in tight the whole time, maintaining a flat back. This is an ab exercise, but you’ll feel it in your legs as well (especially after those long rowing races!). Important: If you don’t feel safe with your feel on the seat of the rower, you can do this exercise with your feet on a towel or sliders on the floor instead.

Metered Race on the Rower | Your goal is to finish the designated distance as quickly as possible—these are races, not a leisurely paddle. By the end of the row (especially the first few longer distances), your legs should feel spent and your body slightly breathless. I’ve put together some goal times so that you have some general guidance with pacing. These times are for ladies (sorry, guys, I don’t have as many men in my rowing classes so I don’t know numbers for you—aim to be a little quicker than what I’ve written though). rowing-distance-goal-times

The above numbers are for generally healthy and fit individuals. If you have a medical condition that would prevent you from pushing at max exertion on a rower, by all means, please go slower than these times!

If you don’t have a rower at your gym or in your home, you could easily do this circuit with another form of cardio (.5mile sprints on the treadmill, reducing it down to .1mile at the end). Get creative! Core + Cardio Circuit Workout with the Rowing Machine

WEARING | tank: StyleStalker // leggings: Fabletics // sneakers: Nike

Have a great start to your week! signature


P.S. The DietBet starts today! You can still join in if you want some added motivation to drop a few lbs this month.


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  1. I like this combination with the rower. I need to break up rowing I find it crazy boring.

  2. Samantha says:

    I did this yesteday! My legs are talking to me today! Thanks! 🙂

  3. Christina says:

    Thanks for a great workout. Found your blog last weekend and this was the first workout I tried. Think i will have to bring your blog with me to the gym for great work out ideas!!!

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