Rowing is one of the best low impact, high intensity workouts you can do to maximize fat loss while maintaining and growing muscle mass. The pull associated with rowing targets the back muscles and is such low impact that it can be done over and over and over again. CrossFit WODS (workouts of the day) centered around rowing will give you a full body workout and aid in growing the wide back you desire.
Rowing can be broken down into 3 basic phases: the drive, the pull and the recovery.
At the beginning of the drive phase, you are seated on the rower with legs bent, arms straight and leaning forward. From here press back, using the maximal force of your quads, glutes and hamstrings.
The pull phase follows by leaning back and pulling the handle of the rower to your lower chest. This is a great way to work the triceps, biceps, lats, abs and lower back muscles. Here is the key to building a wide back. The more effort you put into the pull the better gains you will see.
After applying maximal effort in the drive and pull, take a deep breath as you slide forward and recover for the next part of these 9 effective CrossFit rowing workouts:
Table of Contents
1. Rowing Intervals
By far the best way to maximize your pulling potential and back gains is through rowing intervals. Set a 20 min clock, when the time starts
- Row for 1 min- goal is 20 calories
- Rest for 1 min
Don’t let the 1 min interval fool you, make sure these are maximal effort intervals. The harder you pull, the bigger the gains.
2. CrossFit Regionals WOD 11.1
Here is a rowing workout used to test some of the toughest CrossFit athletes. Of all the CrossFit rowing workouts, this one might be the most difficult.
This workout is guaranteed to give you a shoulder pump and get your heart rate going. Complete the following as quickly as possible, for an extra challenge try to complete in 15 minutes or less:
- 1000m run
- 30 hand release push-ups*
- 1000m row
The mixture of running and rowing will push your endurance while contrasting push-ups with the pull in rowing will target all your shoulder muscles. This workout is a killer shoulder pump.
Speaking of a serious shoulder pump, Jackie is one of the original CrossFit benchmark workouts. For this workout you will need a pull up bar and barbell- men need a 45# bar and women a 35#- along with your rower. As with many CrossFit workouts, this one is for time (complete as quickly as possible)
- 1000m row
- 50 thrusters
- 30 pull ups
Talk about building a wide back; this workout hits those lats from every angle. It has pushing, vertical pulling, and horizontal pulling. You’ll be feeling those gains after this one.
Another benchmark WOD you can test over and over again to see your progress- though we suggest waiting a few months between retests. For this you will need a barbell, some bumper plates, and a box in addition to the rower.
Complete 3 rounds for time
- 500m row
- 12 deadlifts
- 21 box jumps
For the deadlifts aim to lift bodyweight, make sure you understand proper lifting form though and are warmed up before throwing this weight around. Most people wouldn’t consider this a back builder, but if you’ve got your deadlift form dialed in those lats and shoulders will be working the entire time.
5. Sean Hanley
Moving on from benchmark workouts, let’s take a look at some Hero WODs. Now these are designed for you to grind. You will definitely be breathing hard after this, and be asking for someone to pick up your bag because your arms and back will be toast.
- 2000m row
- At the top of each minute stop to do 5 burpees, continue to do this until you have completed the 2000m row
Yeah this one looks mean, but it will build your back like there’s no tomorrow. Need an extra challenge? Perform lateral burpees by jumping laterally over the rower after each burpee.
6. Red Horse
This Hero WOD only takes 10 mins and will need a barbell, kettle bell and of course your rower. How hard are you willing to push yourself for 10 minutes? Set a 10 min clock and perform as many rounds as possible of
- 9 thrusters
- 22 burpees
- 13 kettle bell swings
- 500m row
For the thrusters men will use 95#, women 65#, and the kettle bell swings should be done with 53# for men and 35# for women. Get mentally pumped for this one because all 4 movements are total body workouts, your back will have no rest but all the gains.
Here’s a special note to women – make sure you have the right footwear for a WOD like this. If you haven’t considered what shoes to wear, click here to see the best women’s Nike CrossFit shoes available.
MisFits is a fun WOD to throw in the mix, if you can consider dead shoulders fun. This workout is considered a sprint and all you need is a medicine ball; try to complete in under 8 minutes:
- 50 wall ball shots with 20#
- 35 calorie row
- 20 push ups
Quick but dirty. You’ll thank yourself after looking in the mirror and seeing the results from all the pressing and pulling you’ve just completed.
The last 2 workouts we have are centered around the clock. Get work done in a preset amount of time. Grab your pull up bar, set a 15 min clock and complete as many rounds as possible of:
- 250m row
- 10 wide grip pull ups
- 15 sit ups
Sneaking the sit ups in there will give your back a break, but not for long. The low rep count is meant to keep you moving and moving quickly. For an added bonus try to do every set of pull ups unbroken.
Here it is our last recommended rowing workout to build a wide back. For this all you will need is a 10 min clock; during each minute complete
- 15 cal row
That’s it. The faster you complete the 15 calories, the more rest you get before the next round starts. This workout only utilizes the rower so you can focus on your pulling power and how wide you can build your back.
Of all the CrossFit rowing workouts, this one will probably burn the most calories since you’re focused on it.
CrossFit Rowing Workouts Conclusion
These 9 rowing workouts lay a great foundation to building a wider back. Once you’ve mastered these branch into other rowing workouts, but keep that rower handy if you want to keep seeing progress.
Don’t have a rower, find one. Hop on that sucker and start melting away the fat to show off that chiseled back you’ve been working so hard on.
But make sure you have the right gear first before you start. To keep your feet from slipping off the pedals during your mad frenzy, make sure you pick up a pair of heavy-duty CrossFit shoes to dominate these kinds of WODs with ease.