How to Develop an Exercise Program on the Rowing Machine: Information on the Best Ways to Build a Successful Exercise Program.

How to Develop an Exercise Program on the Rowing Machine: Information on the Best Ways to Build a Successful Exercise Program.
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Developing a Program Using the F.I.T.T. Principle

You may be wondering “What is the F.I.T.T principle?” It’s a solid question as a lot of people don’t know about this principle or how incorporating it into a program will give them the most effective workout possible. The F.I.T.T. acronym is made up of four factors that are crucial to exercise program development: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. Over the course of this article, each of these factors will be looked at individually and discussed in relation to creating a program using a rowing machine.


Frequency refers to how many times a week that a person is going to perform their rowing routine. There are many options that can be chosen when doing a cardiovascular program. Some people like to do a 3 times a week program and either do a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule or a Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday schedule. On the other hand, there are those people who like to work out nearly every weekday and will work out Monday through Friday while taking the weekends off. Then there are those very few who like to work out the entire week without giving themselves a day off for rest and recovery. This is generally not recommended as it can lead to over-training and can be detrimental to one’s health. When beginning a rowing routine, it would be wise to start off slow and stick with 2 or 3 days a week. As you become more conditioned, adding more days a week is a good way to increase the challenge and burn extra calories.


Intensity is basically how hard a person will train on any given exercise program. In the case of the rowing machine, there are ways to increase the intensity of the exercise in order to maximize the workout. Most rowing machines have a resistance adjuster that runs on a scale from 1 to 10 along with a time and distance computer. It would be wise for a beginner to start with the least resistance over the shortest distance (150 meters) and gradually work their way up to greater resistance and distance. Another way to increase the intensity is by increasing the speed on the machine. Once you have held a continuous SPM over a certain distance and time, it is recommended to increase the distance in 50-meter increments. It is best to increase the resistance one level for every increase of 250 meters. You can constantly challenge yourself by playing with the resistance levels and the distance that you are rowing. Try to maintain the resistance for whatever distance you set yourself up for. If you are not able to do it, drop the distance down but keep the resistance the same and keep working at it until you can achieve your distance goal.


Time is pretty self-explanatory in that it is the amount of time one will perform the rowing machine during an exercise session. To begin with, try doing about 20 to 30 minutes of rowing 2 to 3 times a week. As you get more comfortable with the movement and you can continually perform the exercise with proper form, you can increase the amount of time up gradually as you see fit. Some people like to go for longer periods of time such as 45 minutes or an hour. A better rule of thumb would be to increase the intensity of the exercise once your current resistance has become easy for 30 minutes. It will save you time rather than continuing to increase the time at the same resistance. If you want to continue to increase time, it is recommended not to go over an hour as you may put your body into a catabolic state (body breaks down muscle for energy). Once an hour gets easy, lower the time down to either 30 or 45 minutes and increase the intensity, then gradually work your way back up to an hour.


Type refers to the different programs that can be performed when doing the rowing machine. There aren’t as many options on a rowing machine as there are on a treadmill or an elliptical, but you can do a few things. First, you can do your own thing with a custom program that you gradually change either over the course of the session or over time. You can either increase the resistance or change up the distance, or both if you are feeling overly ambitious. Gage your progress and switch things up to keep your body challenged.

The second thing you could do would be an interval training program where you would perform a low intensity for 3 – 4 minutes and then switch to a high intensity for 1 – 2 minutes, then repeat the cycle over for the desired amount of time (usually 30 minutes). Switching up the intensity can be done by increasing the resistance, speed, or both. It is a very effective way to challenge the body and burn lots of calories.

The third and final way would be to do a circuit training program with the rowing machine. Doing a circuit program consists of going through multiple exercises for the entire body performing one set of each exercise one right after the other in a row without rest. Once you get to the end, you would perform a few minutes of rowing to keep up the intensity level and to keep your heart rate going. You could also perform a bout of rowing in between each exercise as you make your way down the list.

Sources (2011, February 19). How to Create a Rowing Machine Workout Program. Retrieved from (2011, February 19). How To Exercise On A Rowing Machine. Retrieved from