5 Non-Rowing Exercises You Can Do on a Rower

Hey friends! Sorry for the super slow blogging week—I’m back in action now. I had a really relaxing weekend in Boston, hitting up the opening of Handle Bar’s new Harvard Square studio, teaching a private class at Btone, doing a class there the next morning (that kicked my ass), and just laying around reading in between (I’m reading Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town and can’t put it down). The next four weekends I’ll be out of town for weddings and quick trips so it was pretty glorious to just stay local and do a whole lot of nothing.

Anyway, on to today’s post. When I teach rowing (or do it on my own), I like to get off the rower and mix it up. My butt goes numb, I start having PTSD flashbacks to my days on the treadmill—as great of a workout as the rower provides, I just can’t sit on it for 45 minutes straight. I find even just a couple brief breaks of doing exercises next to the machine or creatively using the rower on the floor helps me stay engaged. I’m sure any IndoRow purists out there reading this post are cringing, but here 5 non-rowing moves you can do with the rower.

 Start in a plank position with your feet on the seat of the rower, facing the back. Keeping your legs straight, pike your hips up into the air, bringing your body into an upside down “v” shape. Try to keep your heels lifted as you do this, sliding on the balls of your feet. Once you hit your peak (if you have tight hamstrings, you may not be able to get your hips up very high—that’s ok!), slowly lower back down into plank position.

Back Lunge (with Pull Slide at Bottom)

Start facing the back standing to the right side of the rower with your right foot planted firmly on the ground, weight in your heel, and the ball of the left foot planted on the seat of the rower. Bending your right knee, slide the left foot back as you lower into a lunge (get the right knee to a 90-degree bend if possible). Once you reach the bottom, press through your right heel as you straighten your leg and rise back up to standing.

Add in a pull at the bottom to make it harder: You can spice things up by adding in a pull slide at the bottom of each lunge. Keeping the right knee bent at 90 degrees with weight in your right heel, bend the back left knee, sliding it forward and then extending it straight back behind you again. Don’t change height as you do this; stay low in your lunge! You can do one at the base of each lunge or hold low for an extended period of time, sliding that back knee in and out. The longer you hold, the harder this move is.

Bear Crunches

Start in a plank position with your feet on the seat of the rower, facing 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.

Squatting Bicep Curls

Facing forward and straddling the rower, grab the handle with an underhand grip. Squat down, weight in your heels, butt and hips back and down, chest open. Holding your elbows at chest-to-shoulder height with your palms facing up, curl your hands in towards your shoulders, pulling against the resistance of the rower wheel. Release back out, keeping your elbows lifted. Especially if you’re using a water rower that doesn’t allow you to increase resistance, this is an exercise you should do for a longer period of time. It’s a lighter resistance so you want high reps for it to be effective. Try to hold a squat the whole time for an added low body burn.

Side Lunge (with Lateral Slide at Bottom)

Start facing the side standing at the end of the rower with your right foot planted firmly on the ground, weight in your heel, and the left foot planted on the seat of the rower. Bending your right knee, slide the left foot to the side as you lower into a side lunge (get the right knee to a 90-degree bend if possible). Think of sitting in a chair on that right leg; it’s essentially a single-leg squat. Once you reach the bottom, press through your right heel as you straighten your leg and rise back up to standing.

Add in a pull at the bottom to make it harder: You can spice things up by adding in a pull slide at the bottom of each lunge. Keeping the right knee bent at 90 degrees with weight in your right heel, bend the back left knee, sliding it in towards you and then extending it straight back away from you again. Don’t change height as you do this; stay low in your squat! You can do one at the base of each lunge or hold low for an extended period of time, sliding that back knee in and out. The longer you hold, the harder this move is.

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