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Power Up Your Entire Body With This Rowing HIIT Workout

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We’re not going to sugarcoat this – doing HIIT workouts on a rowing machine is a hellishly hard experience. Spending even just a couple of minutes going at full intensity on the rower will leave you in tatters, but the results are undoubtedly worth it, because it delivers a full-body workout that other cardio machines cannot match.

The gang at fitness studio Metabolic London (opens in new tab) are so convinced by the benefits of the rowing machine that they have launched the UK’s first group rower class. The class combines all-out stints on the rower with resistance exercises for a full-on full-body workout. The great news is you can get a taste of the challenge involved by trying the HIIT workout below, designed by the founder of Metabolic London, Lawrence Hannah.

“The rower is such a tough test,” says Hannah. “You recruit so many muscles that any amount of time spent on the seat will add another dimension to your cardio.

“Mix it up with some circuits on a timed interval session and you will leave the gym bouncing – or crawling. Either way you will know you have worked.”

How To Do This Workout

This workout requires both a rowing machine (obviously) and some equipment. Grab a medicine ball, a kettlebell and dumbbells, and place them next to the rower. If anyone demands to know why you’re bringing free weights into the cardio section of the gym just tell them it’s because you’re working harder than them.

After a warm-up involving some dynamic mobility exercises, jump on the rower and set the resistance to a medium level, it’s time to begin.

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1. Row

Time 4min Rest 1min

Aim for between 800-1,000m. Remember the distance you cover.

2. Circuit

Time 4min Rest 1min

Aim for as many rounds of the following exercises as possible in the four minutes.

3. Row

Time 4min Rest 1min

Aim for a similar distance as your first set

4. Circuit

Time 4min Rest 1min

Aim for as many rounds of the following exercises as possible in the four minutes.

4. Active Recovery

Time 2min

Rotate between planks, plank press-ups and hollow holds (check out this YouTube video of how to do hollow holds (opens in new tab)) for two minutes.

5. Row

Time 5min Rest 1min

Add 200m to what you achieved in the four-minute row for your target.

6. Circuit

Time 5min Rest 1min

Cycle through the below exercises, aiming for as many rounds as possible in the five minutes.

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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.