You may have heard that rowing is the new cardio. While we are not yet ready to give up our daily run and dance class, we love the full-body benefits rowing brings to our workout routine. To give you a taste, here’s an exhilarating, 20-minute total-body cardio workout from world-champion rower and ShockWave co-creator Josh Crosby and ShockWave’s program director Doris Thews.

Rowing Benefits:

  • Total-body workout (uses more than 80 percent of your muscle mass)
  • Low-impact
  • Adjustable for all fitness levels

ShockWave Rowing Tips:

New to rowing? The ShockWave “How to Row” video will get you started. Just go to and navigate to “Video Training.” You can also use this tutorial as your warm-up and combine with the two Waves below.

Before starting your workout, set your foot-holders so that the straps are snug across the balls of your feet. Set your monitor so you can see your SPM (strokes per minute), Split Time (the time it takes to row 500 meters) or miles per hour.

Always focus on the ShockWave 3×3:

  1. Order: Push with the legs first, lean back with the torso and then finish by pulling the arms into the chest. On the return, do everything in the reverse order — straighten arms first, hinge at the hips so that the shoulders come in front of the waist and finally bring the legs up slowly to return to the beginning of the stroke.
  2. Power: Approximately 60 percent of your power should come from pushing with the legs, 20 percent from bracing with the core and 20 percent from pulling with the arms.
  3. Timing: The stroke’s ratio should be a 1:2 count. So think, quick on the Drive (push and pull phase) and slow on the Recovery (your return to take another stroke). This allows you to rest and therefore be more effective and consistent.

The Workout:

Warm-Up – 3 mins.

  • Row 3 mins. Easy intensity – strokes per minute (SPM) 22-24

*Focus: On the Order, Power, Timing.

Pressure Test – 3 mins.

  • 1 min. Easy – SPM 24
  • 1 min. Medium – SPM 26
  • 1 min. Hard – SPM 28

*Focus: Look on your monitor’s screen for MPH or Split Time to benchmark each intensity. Remember intensity is created by you, by pushing and pulling harder or easier each stroke. Don’t just think speed back and forth equals intensity.

Break: Stretch – Sit up tall, knees slightly bent, and twist to one side hold for 10 seconds and then switch to the other side and hold. Then hinge forward as if touching your toes. This will give the hamstrings and lower back a good stretch.

Wave 1 – 6 mins.  

Using the MPH or Split Time established in the warm-up go to your prescribed intensity and see if you can hold the same MPH/splits in this Wave.

  • 2 min. Easy – SPM 24
  • 2 min.  Medium – SPM 24
  • 2 min. Hard – SPM 28

*Focus: Challenge yourself to match or beat your numbers established in the Warm-Up.

Break: Core work with sit-ups on the machine. Maintaining great posture lean back until the core is challenged. Hinge up and down slowly as if doing a small sit-up. Do 15-30. For more challenge raise the arms in front of your chest and brace with the core.

Wave 2 – 6 mins.

  • 1 min. Easy – SPM 24
  • 30 sec. Medium – SPM 24
  • 30 sec. Hard – SPM 28-30

Repeat this sequence 3 more times

*Focus: Challenge yourself to be consistent with your times throughout all sections of the Wave, but go after it for those 30 seconds and get the heart rate up.

Cool Down – 2 mins.

  • 2 min. Easy – SPM 22-24

Focus: On form and attention to breathing.

Looking for more rowing coaching and workouts? Go to ShockWave’s “Video Training.”