7 Tough CrossFit Rowing Workouts To Test Your Fitness

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but:

Rowing and being a great CrossFit athlete go hand in hand. It’s one of the foundational movements in CrossFit and has been programmed in WODs as long as running has.

In this guide, we’ll talk about how to add CrossFit Rowing WODs into your programming.

At the bottom, you’ll find 7 brutal rowing workouts that you should try.

What Is A Rowing WOD?

A rowing workout is any CrossFit WOD that programs rowing (for meters or calories) into a training session.

For example, you might pair rowing with bodyweight movements like burpees if you are focused on improving your conditioning.

The standard rower for CrossFit is the Concept 2 model ergometer.

In fact, some athletes got disqualified from CrossFit Open Workout 18.1 for using different models that are much easier than the C2.

Benefits of Rowing WOD?

Rowing is one of the staple cardio movements you will see in CrossFit. It’s as great a tool for training your fitness as running, swimming, or using an airbike.

Used correctly, your whole body works to increase the power output on the erg as well as staying efficient with each pull.

Benefits of rowing include:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness (good for lowering metcon times)
  • Increased coordination and efficiency
  • Full body training
  • Good for rehabbing from running if you are injured

It’s accepted by most coaches that many run workouts can be subbed for the rower at around the same distance.

Therefore if you are injured and cannot run, substituting a row should do just fine.

How Often Should You Perform A Rowing Workout?

If you’re going hard, no more than 2-3 times per week. Why?

It’s more apparent when we lift weights if our body needs a break the next day.

Muscle soreness, fatigue, etc. are signs that our body needs time to recover.

This isn’t as apparent when we do cardio workouts, but the same principle applies.

Just because you aren’t sore from a rowing workout doesn’t mean you don’t need to give yourself time to recover from a tough one.

Read Also: Top 8 Best CrossFit Rowing Machines

Plus, CrossFit is about being good at a lot of things.

You don’t want to prioritize rowing unless it’s a true weakness and your weightlifting, gymnastics, and other cardio movements are much further ahead.

7 Brutal Rowing Workouts for CrossFit Athletes

Here are 7 workouts you can add into your training that incorporate rowing:

#1. Row 2k

For time:

  • Row 2,000 meters

Keep the damper at 6 or higher. This is one of the simplest and most challenging workouts a CrossFit athlete will do.

#2. Helen w/ Rowing

For Time:


  • Row 400m
  • 21 Kettlebell swings (53/35)
  • 12 Pull-ups

#3. “Boat Race”

3 Rounds For Time:

  • 500m Row
  • 400m Run

#4. MisFit Row WOD

For Time:


#5. Row A Marathon

Set a typical running distance goal: 5k, 10k, ½ marathon, or full marathon.

Set a clock, and start pulling. Perhaps throw a podcast or the TV on in the background, because you’ll be there for a while.

Here is a link to more “chipper” style WODS.

#6. EOMOM Row/Squat Cleans

Every other minute on the minute (EOMOM) for 12 minutes:

  • Row 20 calories
  • 3 heavy squat cleans (start at 70% and add weight each set)

#7. All Rower Sprint


  • Calorie Row
  • Burpees over the erg (think like a bar over burpee but just use the rower)

Go hard and go all out!


The rower, while simple and seasoned, is a key tool for developing fitness in CrossFit athletes.

Whether you aspire to do well in the CrossFit Games or CrossFit Open, or simply can’t run right now and don’t want to lose your cardiovascular fitness, hop on the rower and get to work.

Using the list above, you have 7 workouts at your disposal to improve fitness, coordination, efficiency, and power (especially when going for calories in a workout).

Be smooth, pull hard, and time your pulls until you get it down. Work hard and reap the benefits!