Great cardio workout

7 October 2015 by
First published: 5 February 2015

Get off the treadmill and stick your oar in! Introducing rowing, a seriously great cardio workout. Try one of these four sessions from top PT Jess Wolny to torch fat and get gorgeous arms

Running is fine, but it’s not the only way to burn fat and get lean. What’s more, it’s not even necessarily the best way – apart from all those repeated impacts, it isn’t going to do much for your arms, and, if you’re indoors, it’s difficult to get up to a proper metabolism-boosting sprint without cranking the treadmill up to worrying speeds. Besides, if you’re interested in fat loss, you should regularly change your cardio format of choice anyway – the more you do any single one, the more efficient you get at it – fine for getting faster, but not for torching fat.

Enter rowing, our new favourite form of cardio. It’s fun, challenging and you can do it sitting down. Yes, the technique seems tricky at first, but Concept 2 (makers of the most popular machines in the industry) has taken care of that – – so take five minutes to familiarise yourself with the form, then tackle one of these workouts and wait for your awesome arms to emerge.


Regular rowers measure everything in 500m chunks – races are usually 2000m, but for pace-setting, chopping things up is easier, and a good 500m time is a badge of honour. Aim to do 5-7 500m rows, with a minute’s rest in between.


Be warned: this gets a bit nasty. Just like a regular Tabata workout, you’ll do 20 seconds of rowing and 10 seconds of ‘rest’, 8 times. The catch? You should pick a number of metres to hit in each interval, and stick to it. 70 is good, 80 is heroic.

The Ladder

Row 100m in 30 seconds. Rest for 90. Sorry, did I say ‘rest’? I meant do three press-ups and seven squats, then rest in the time you’ve got left over. Now row at least a metre further than you did in the last interval, and ‘rest’/press-up/squat again. Repeat for 10 ’rounds’, or until you hate me for even suggesting this.

2000m for time

The women’s record is 7:30…for a 12-year old. That’s incredibly fast, so aim for something more conservative – 9:00, maybe. Next time you’re in the gym, try to do better!