Rowing has been a proven strengthening and conditioning tool for ages (Vikings aren’t traditionally thought of as weaklings, are they?). Yet, when it’s time to do cardio, most guys walk right past their gym’s Concept2 rower and head straight for the treadmills. That’s a huge mistake: Rowing is one of the most dynamic total-body exercises you can do. When done correctly, rowing hits the bi’s, lats, spinal erectors, core and legs all at the same time.

When you row at an intense pace – intervals or steady state – you’re asking your heart to pump blood to every muscle in your body. This jacks up your heart rate and creates oxygen debt, which your body pays back by burning fat long after your workout is finished. Rowing form is trickier than it seems, though. To do it properly, we break it down here into two phases: the drive phase and the recovery phase.

The Phases

1 Drive: Sit on the seat, strap your feet in, and grab the handle with both hands. Bend your knees and slide forward with your arms outstretched. Explosively extend your legs while arching your back and pulling the handle to your sternum.

2. Recover: Reverse the process by bending your knees, flexing your hips, extending your arms and sliding the seat forward again. The chain will recoil into the chamber and set you up for the next drive. This phase should take twice as long as the drive.

Once you’ve mastered this technique, start using it before you lift weights. This will get your heart rate high right off the bat and help keep it there for the duration of your workout.

Quick Tip

Row at intervals: Before weight training, do five or six 500-meter sprints with either a one-minute break or a very slow one-minute recovery pace.