Miss Your Rowing Machine? These 3 At-Home Moves Can Help You Mimic It

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As much as we all may love our at-home workouts and streaming our favorite online classes (this editor especially has embraced the online life), sometimes there are aspects of a machine workout that will have us longing for some gym time.

But just because we're not headed back to the gym anytime soon doesn't mean we can't get the same powerful workout at home as we can on machines. Specifically, if the rowing machine was your calling, you can still get the same total-body workout at home, explained Lindsay Ogden, NASM-certified personal trainer and small group training program experience manager at Life Time.

"When it comes to combining strength and cardio, a rowing machine is hard to beat," said Ogden. "It requires your upper body, lower body, and core in order to perform each stroke."

And with just three moves, Ogden created a full-body workout that targets all the same muscle groups your favorite rowing machine hits — only this time, no equipment is required.

If you're ready to break a sweat, roll out that fitness mat, lace up your impact-ready sneakers, like the UA HOVR™ Apex 2 Training Shoes ($140), and get ready to work.

For your lower body, try squat jumps.

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart and your hands in front of your chest.
  • Keeping your chest up, sit your hips and butt back and down toward your heels. Pro tip: get as low as you can while keeping tension in your glutes to mimic the rowing range of motion.
  • Once at the bottom position, explode up, pressing your hands down to your sides and jumping so your feet leave the ground.
  • Land softly and decelerate the descent back down to the bottom of the squat.
  • Perform 10 squat jumps.


This movement takes your legs through the entire row stroke — catch, drive, and finish, according to Ogden. The catch portion hits the bottom of the squat position, while the drive tackles your push to the ground and exploding motion up. The finish is mimicked when you're fully extended and at your highest point of the jump squat, said Ogden.

For an upper-body focus, try YWT raises.

  • Start by laying on your stomach, keeping your eyes looking down at the floor.
  • Straighten your arms overhead at the 45-degree angle with your thumbs up so they make the letter "Y".
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, keeping your shoulders away from your ears, and lift your arms.
  • Lift your head about one inch while keeping your eyes down.
  • Hold for three to five seconds, then slowly lower your arms and head back down.
  • Repeat the process, but bend your elbows down to create a "W" shape and your arms straight out to the sides for a "T" shape.
  • Perform five YWT raises (one rep = completing a Y, a W, and a T).


"YWT raises will help support strong back muscles that contribute too much of the force generated while rowing," explained Ogden. "These exercises not only help support rowing, but will improve your posture and reduce risk of injury."

For your core, try sculler sit-ups/knee tucks.

  • Start in the "tuck" position by sitting on your tailbone with your knees bent and feet off the floor. Keep your chest up while slightly leaning back with your arms to your side.
  • Move into the "extended" position by leaning back so just your shoulders and head are off the ground.
  • Straighten your legs out at the same time, crossing your arms in front of your chest.
  • Continue going between the "tuck" and "extended" positions in a controlled manner.
  • Perform 20 sculler sit-ups.


Ogden explained the "tuck" position in this is similar to the catch in rowing while the "extended" position is similar to the finish. "Keeping the core engaged will ensure power transfers from the drive of the legs to the finishing pull of the upper body while rowing," she added.

Complete three rounds and rest for 30 to 90 seconds between sets. As you get more efficient, add in rounds (going up to four or five rounds) or add reps (think 15 to 20 jump squats and 30 sculler sit-ups), added Ogden.