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5 Challenging Ways to Use a Rower That Don’t Have *Anything* to Do With Rowing

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanFebruary 8, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund

When you know how to use an ergometer correctly, you’re engaging 86 percent of your muscles. But there are a few different ways to use a rowing machine for non-traditional exercises that target specific areas of the body. “Incorporating a few non-traditional exercises into the mix further builds on the full-body workout and helps improve balance and coordination,” says Arielle Childs, founding coach at Rowgatta in New York City. “It also provides a good opportunity to add some variety to your workout.”

“The instability of the erg seat—which moves across the base of the machine—can be used in exercises to target small muscles and burn them out,” says Childs.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the gym or at-home; you can use your rowing machine for squats and lunges, planks, and more.

Try these 5 non-rowing exercises on your rowing machine

1. Single-leg Bulgarian split squat

If you’re looking for a major glute burner that also helps better your balance, Childs says this is it.

  • Stand at the back of machine and face away from the erg.
  • With one foot planted on the floor, place your other foot behind you on the seat of the erg.
  • Slowly slide your leg back and move into a reverse lunge.
  • Engage your core and push through the heel of the standing leg to come back to standing.
  • Do four rounds of 8 to 10 reps.

2. Lateral lunges

Get ready for a major inner thigh burn. “Aside from working the inner thighs, this exercise also helps with balance, coordination, and knee stability,” says Childs. Extra bonus: It also works your glutes.

  • Stand at the back of machine, parallel with the erg.
  • With one foot planted on the floor, extend your other leg out to the side and place it on the seat of the erg.
  • Reach as far as you can laterally with the foot that’s on the seat while keeping the other foot that’s on floor firmly planted and stable.
  • Sit back as low as you can while maintaining an upright torso.
  • Do four rounds of 8 to 10 reps.

3. Side jump + burpee

Skip traditional cardio and get your heart rate up with this fun combo. “It incorporates your entire body,” Childs says.

  • Begin by standing to the right of the machine.
  • Laterally jump over the base of the machine and drop into a burpee.
  • Reverse the sequence and repeat.
  • Do four rounds of 8 to 10 reps.

4. Plank to knee crunch + twist

Hello, abs on fire. Childs says this exercise will work your shoulders and leave your entire midline burning.

  • Stand at the back of machine and face away from the erg.
  • Plant your hands and place both feet on the seat, moving into a plank position.
  • Engage your core and bring your knees to the opposite elbow by sliding the seat toward your body.
  • Reach to the opposite elbow and repeat.
  • Do four rounds of 8 to 10 reps.

5. Elevated dips + pushups on slide

If any muscles aren’t burning yet, Childs says this move will fix that. “This dip and pushup combo will hit everything that hasn’t been worked yet,” she says. “The power in rowing comes primarily from the lower body, so this is the perfect combo of moves to top off a full-body workout.”

  • Use the base of the erg to support yourself.
  • Perform a round of 8 to 10 elevated dips.
  • Perform a round of 8 to 10 elevated pushups.

Not tired yet? Try this 5-minute HIIT workout:

This combo move burns your triceps and sets your lower abs on fire. Then be sure to finish every workout with this simple move that will help you avoid any lower back pain.

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