Cross Training: How to use a rowing machine for cross training

Pete Donohoe

You may consider yourself to be in better shape than average because you bike or run several times a week. However, if you aren't mixing up your workouts, you may be setting yourself up for mental burnout or injury.

Cross-training is simply a training routine that involves many different types of exercises. It works more muscle groups, improves agility, and can reduce the risk of injury. While it's necessary for an athlete to train specifically for their sport, if they want to excel and improve, cross-training is a beneficial way to achieve and maintain a higher level of fitness overall. But how does one cross-train effectively? 

That's where rowing steps in - it's an intense, muscle-building workout that can help you to run better and faster. One of the first Olympic sports and the oldest intercollegiate activities, rowing is a favorite pastime with origins dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. 

Not a fan of the water? Don't worry. You don't have to hop in a boat to get the benefits of this exercise. An indoor rowing machine -- or ergometer -- provides the same whole-body experience that one would find on the water, which is ideal for those looking to cross-train. 

In this article, we will cover the following: - What cross-training is - The benefits of cross-training - How to use an indoor rowing machine for cross-training

What is Cross-Training?

Cross-training generally refers to exercising in a variety of ways that incorporates running, rowing, and strength training altogether instead of just running, day after day.

For athletes, cross-training can be used to achieve better overall performance, or it can be more sport-specific, like greater agility or hand-eye coordination. 

Some of the other great benefits that come from cross-training include:

Injury prevention. Most overuse injuries can be prevented with proper training. Muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons throughout your body are under tremendous stress through repeated movement, and it's important to give them an occasional break. By switching up your exercise routine, you give the over-used parts of your body a chance to rest and the under-used parts of your body a chance to strengthen and catch-up. An indoor rowing machine like The Hydrow is ideal for this type of training because it's low impact and non-weight bearing, meaning it will provide you with an effective workout while giving your tired joints a break. 

Boosts mental strength. Mixing up your training can support mental health, too since physical activity can help to improve your mental clarity through the release of endorphins. In fact, different types of physical activity can help provide release after a stressful day, whether it’s taking a relaxing walk to ease your mind, or working out your tension through an intense workout. 

Faster recovery. One of the best advantages of cross-training is that it allows you to try active recovery alongside periods of outright rest, which can improve fitness and avoid injury. Rowing is an exceptional choice for active recovery because it is a low-impact exercise that helps to increase blood flow to tired working muscles, allowing any tension or soreness to be removed more effectively.   

Rowing and Cross-Training

Although there are many different ways to cross-train to support you along your fitness journey, no other method of exercise comes close to providing what rowing has to offer. 

An indoor rowing machine provides a highly efficient cardiovascular and fat-burning workout, where you can burn close to 400 calories in as little as 30 minutes. The rowing stroke also works 86% of the muscles in your body across nine major muscle groups, including the back, shoulders, arms, legs, glutes, and core. 

This makes rowing the single most effective piece of exercise equipment for a total body workout, which, combined with the additional benefits it provides for flexibility and core strength, means that incorporating rowing into your training will help you to see positive changes to your health and fitness, fast. 

For these reasons, it's easy to see why an indoor rower is a powerful tool in training for any sport. 

  • - 5-minute easy row warm-up - 10 pulls; 5 push-ups + 5 crunches. Repeat two more times. - 20 pulls; 10 reverse lunges + 10 squat jumps. Repeat two more times. - 30 pulls; 15 burpees. Repeat two more times.  - 30-second row; 30 -second plank off the rower. Repeat five times.  - Cool down. 

If you train five times each week, try alternating your training with an indoor rowing machine workout like the one listed above twice a week. Alternating training for rowing will help you stay mentally fresh, help you stay physically balanced while preventing injury, and provide you with a new skill set to apply in adapting to changing rowing conditions, goals, and challenges. 


The essential fundamentals of cross-training are the same whether you are exercising for improved fitness and health or for competition. Try varying your exercise program from workout to workout by incorporating a full-body, heart-pumping rowing session to your existing workout routine. Rowing is low-impact and non-weight bearing, so it's easy on the joints making it an ideal option for active recovery and cross-training.

It doesn't matter if you're a runner, swimmer, cyclist, football player or ballet dancer -- if you're looking to improve your overall fitness, cross-training with a versatile, low-impact, high-intensity rowing machine like The Hydrow can help!