You can’t always spend hours upon hours in the gym. Sometimes, you just need a super-quick sweat session, something that’ll swiftly have your shirt drenched and your heart rate up.
That’s as good a time as any to blend two exercises that are guaranteed to leave you breathless in minutes: The cardio rower . . . and burpees. On their own, each exercise can push you to your limit. Combined, they’ll challenge both your body and your mind, blasting fat and calories.
Here, they’re blended into a devastating workout ladder that manages to be fun, even as it has you gasping for air. You’re rowing as explosively as possible one moment, then getting off the rower and battling through burpees the next. Things start easy but swiftly become a massive challenge. You’ll be working out, but thinking too, strategising how to solve a challenging gym puzzle.
Just as importantly, it’s a super-balanced workout: You crush your pulling muscles as you row, then push your body away from the ground to explode up from those burpees. Ready to get started? Let’s do it.
Start With A Warmup
Perform 3 rounds of these two moves, which stretch and strengthen your lower back, readying your body to row. After each round, rest for 60 seconds.
PVC Good Morning
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a PVC pipe or broomstick (overhand grip) across your upper back. Keeping your knees slightly bent and back naturally arched (no rounding), push your hips back and take 3 seconds to lower your torso. Stop when you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Pause, and stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 10.
Lie facedown on the floor with your arms extended so your body forms a T; this is the starting position. Now bend your left knee, raising your left foot off the floor. Slowly bring your left foot across your body and toward your right hand, trying to touch your hand with your foot. Return to the start; then repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 5.
Then Do Technique Work
Yes, rowing is simple (get on the rower and pull!), but you want to do that as efficiently as possible, focusing on leg drive and a strong pull with your upper back muscles. One major misconception of the cardio row: It’s an upper-body-focused exercise. It’s actually not. If you row correctly, you’re grabbing power from your lower body, and your glutes and hamstrings will feel sore when you’re done. (Your upper body will also take some strain; it doesn’t get off easy, either.) Do these isolation stroke drills, which hone proper rowing technique. Make sure to use a rowing machine that can track your calories burned and meters rowed. For the technique work, you’ll focus on meters rowed, but once you get to the challenge portion? That’s all about calories burned. You can do this on any rower, although a Concept2 rower is one of your best options for pinpoint tracking. Don’t have one? Check out this one.
Just Arms Training
Sit on the rower and grab the handle using an overhand grip. Fully extend your legs and lean back slightly for the entire set; your torso should be in the 11 o’clock position. Use your arms only to pull the handle back to your sternum, squeezing your shoulder blades. Row for 100 meters; then rest 40 seconds. That’s 1 set. Repeat twice.
Torso and Arms Work
Start with your torso forward at the 1 o’clock position. Your legs should remain extended. Hinge your torso back to 11 o’clock and pull with your arms; then return to 1 o’clock. Do 100 meters; then rest 40 seconds. That’s 1 set; repeat twice. Now row 750 meters with a full stroke. Focus on timing: Legs move first, then torso travels back, then arms pull.
Now, The Gauntlet
Now it’s game time. Take a few minutes to collect yourself, then you’re doing an EMOM (every minute, on the minute). You’ll start the rower timer, then work to complete the required work in one minute. Once you do the required work, you’ll rest until the end of the minute.
Each minute, you’ll start by rowing for 10 calories. You’ll pair that with a burpee countup. So the first minute, you’ll follow your 10-calorie row with 1 burpee, then rest until the start of the second minute. The second minute you’ll do 10 calories and 2 burpees. The third minute, you’ll do 10 calories and 3 burpees. (You should get the idea from there.)
Your workout is over when you can no longer fit all the required work into a minute. So if you’re on the 10th minute, and you do 8 burpees, and time’s up, then you’re done for the day. Shoot to complete at least 10 rounds of the workout. Can’t get there? Keep working.
Focus on maintaining good form: Push your shoulders back and down and engage your core by bracing your abs. Keep going until you’ve rowed for 10 calories. Work to employ powerful strokes; aim for 1 calorie every stroke or two. Fast rowers may hit this mark in 20 seconds. Slower, inexperienced rowers may need 40 seconds.
Stand next to the rower with your feet slightly beyond shoulder width. Hinge at your hips, place your hands on the floor, and kick your feet back and lower your torso to the floor. Jump up to a standing position then jump off the ground. That’s 1 rep. Need an even tougher challenge? Instead of jumping straight up, hop laterally over the rower after each burpee.
By Ian Creighton