How to Row It Alone

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When you can't get to class, try these solo workouts from Bill Manning, associate head coach of men's rowing at Harvard University.

Warm-Up Drill: Single-Hand Stroke
Most people pull too soon. To help break the habit, try this quick warm-up drill: Hold the center of the handle with one hand and row. You'll soon see how important the legs and a firm torso are to your drive. Try for 10 strokes with each hand. Also do this drill before a group class, to get loose.

Beginner: Tempo Row
Every rowing machine displays speed, distance, and your average time to complete 500 meters (your 500-meter split time). Go as hard as you can for one minute and note your average 500-meter split time. Add 20 seconds to that time—this will be your pace. Try to hold that pace for 10 minutes. That's one. Rest three minutes and repeat.

Intermediate: Stroke-Count Pyramid
Row 10 strokes easy, then 10 strokes hard. Repeat this pattern, increasing in 10-stroke intervals until you are rowing 50 strokes easy, 50 strokes hard. Go down the "pyramid" until you are back to the starting set.

Advanced: Intense Intervals
Try four 500-meter intervals without rest. Row the first 500 meters at 50 percent of your maximum effort. On your second 500, increase to 75 percent of your max. On the third, ramp up to 95 percent—you should be nearly out of juice by the end of this leg. Row your final 500 meters as hard as you can—but maintain good form.

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