This Bodyweight and Rowing Workout Strips Fat And Builds Lean Muscle | Men's Health Magazine Australia

This Bodyweight and Rowing Workout Strips Fat And Builds Lean Muscle


According to former Olympic rower Dr Cameron Nicol, the rowing machine beats out the cross-trainer, exercise bike and treadmill as the “most time efficient total body workout” of them all. And he’s not wrong, researchers from the UK’s Roehampton University proved that rowing activates nine separate muscle groups. Think legs, back, shoulder, chest, arms (etc) which roughly equates to 85 per cent of the muscles in our bodies.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

“Gee where do I start!? Aside from the improved aerobic fitness and the huge calorie burn you can achieve on the rower, the thing that really sets it apart from other cardio-based exercise is the low-impact and longevity associated with rowing,” explains co-founder of Strong (a pilates inspired, cardio infused, part reformer, part rowing, full body workout). Michael Ramsey. “Unlike running and other forms of impact training, you can row for long periods of time and avoid injuries, niggles and pain just by maintaining good form. It’s really one of the most underrated pieces of equipment if you want to safely burn body fat, get fitter and stronger without the risk of injury.”

The biggest misconception, according to Ramsey, is that it’s an upper body exercise.

“Rowing is GREAT for your lower body, particularly for females who want to work their glutes (and build a bit of a booty). You only really start to become a good rower when you learn to use your legs and glutes more effectively; arms have very little to do with it. It’s approximately 80% lower body (glutes, quads, hamstrings), 15% core & back, and 5% arms.”

“Given there’s such a strong element of lower body conditioning, Rowing compliments all those compound lower body movements i.e. Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges, etc. The rower is also a great tool to help build a base for activities such as running, jumping, hiking from a cardio perspective, and also from a muscular conditioning perspective.”

According to Ramsey, STRONG Mornington Studio owner John managed to hit 10 Calories in 9.8 seconds which is INSANE. He can also row 500m in 1:19. Liv, one of the Master STRONG Trainer’s can hit 161 metres in just 30 seconds and rows 1km in 3:38.

Want to up your rowing game going? Check out the beginner and expect workouts below.

Workout 1 (Beginner Level) 

Build your Endurace –  20 minute workout

  • 1 min row/ 1 min rest
  • 2 min row/ 1 min rest
  • 3 min row/ 1 min rest
  • 4 min row/ 1 min rest
  • 5 min row/ 1 min rest

Workout 2 (Expert Level)

10, 9, 8…1 Bodyweight n’ Row Burner

10 x Rounds.

Each round drops by 1 rep for each exercise.

Finish each round off with a 250m row. 

First Round looks like:

  • 10 x Body Weight Squat
  • 10 x Lunges (10 each side)
  • 10 x Push Ups
  • 10 x Shoulder Taps (10 each side)
  • 10 x Crunches
  • 250m Row.

Second Round:

  • 9 x Body Weight Squat
  • 9 x Lunges (9 each side)
  • 9 x Push Ups
  • 9 x Shoulder Taps (9 each side)
  • 9 x Crunches
  • 250m Row.

Keep going all the way to 1 rep! Good luck.

By Nikolina Ilic

Nikolina is the former Digital Editor at Men's Health Australia, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she has written for Women's Health, esquire, GQ and Vogue magazine.

More From