Looking to add a rowing kettlebell workout to your exercise routine?
Well, you should and I’ll tell you why!
A rowing and kettlebell workout is one of the best ways to get a full-body “functional” workout.
Each exercise is a true “strength” and “endurance” movement.
Adding variation to your workouts will help you burn more calories, shed more fat, and gain lean muscle. It also helps keep you engaged and working out longer!
There are a ton of different rowing and kettlebell benefits that I will list below. I also added a technique section due to form being so important to both exercises.
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Check out some kettlebell rowing workout examples towards the end, along with some how-to videos!
Don’t forget to add your favorite rowing kettlebell WOD (workout of the day) to the comment section below.
Benefits of Rowing Machines
Rowing machines are one of the best full-body workouts you can receive, which is why I love them so much!
They are such a beneficial piece of exercise equipment that have been gaining a ton of popularity over the last 5 years.
People love the low-impact workouts they provide that are easy on the knees and joints. They also love how it is highly effective at burning calories, toning muscles, and increasing cardiovascular health.
Just ask some of the most ripped Hollywood stars what piece of fitness equipment they love! They will undoubtedly say, “the rowing machine”.
I’m talking Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Jason Statham (Hollywood badass) ripped. Even world class athletes like Connor Mcgregor (UFC Champion) are taking up rowing due to their many total-body benefits.
I wrote an article detailing The 5 Best Rowing Machine Benefits you can read here. For the quick story, I’ll list my top 10 rowing machine benefits below:
- Full-body “functional” workout
- Saves time due to high calorie burn rate
- Great for anaerobic or aerobic workouts
- Low impact on joints
- Helps build lean muscle and burn fat
- Increased cardiovascular health (decreases chance of health issues)
- Relatively affordable (will cost some $$ but can find good budget rower for under $300)
- Ability to track all data, set goals, and measure improvements
- Easy to learn
- Fun workouts in group settings, alone, or online communities!
As you can see, rowing machines provide a ton of great benefits across a broad spectrum. No matter how you look at it, the benefits of a rowing machine far outweigh any possible negatives.
Rowing Machine Technique
Rowing exercises can be extremely beneficial, but we must ensure we are using proper technique to gain all these benefits.
If an average person hops on a rowing machine, with never having seen a proper rowing stroke, they will probably have some technique issues.
This is why teaching someone to row is so fun! You can literally see huge improvements within minutes of teaching someone the proper rowing form.
Rowing is mostly a “leg drive” exercise and not and “arm pull” exercise like many would think. When performing a rowing stroke, we should think of the muscles being used broken down to roughly 60% legs, 20% core, and 20% arms.
The sequence and timing of a rowing stroke also relates to this percentage breakdown. The rowing stroke sequence goes legs, core, arms then arms, core, legs (more on this in the video). The total amount of time to perform your recovery should also be about 20% arm release, 20% core lean, and 60% leg recovery.
Below is a great video on proper rowing machine technique. There are many more online videos that I encourage you to watch and learn from!
Before beginning to row, I highly recommend watching a few more rowing machine technique videos. They will help a ton and allow you to row efficiently and effectively.
Benefits of Kettlebells
Kettlebells are becoming increasingly popular and can sometimes have a cult-like following. People swear by them and for good reason! Again, even celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Rogan rave about their benefits.
Even though a kettlebell may just look like a bowling ball with a handle, they have a ton of different uses and benefits.
Firstly, they are easy to find and can be purchased at nearly any fitness retail store (even Wal-Mart, Target, etc.). They are also relatively cheap, which when it comes to fitness equipment can be hard to believe.
Like a rowing machine, kettlebells provide a full-body “functional” workout. This makes them great for burning fat, building lean muscle, and receiving a great cardiovascular workout.
Kettlebells, like rowing machines, are also a true combination of “strength” and “endurance”.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
However, one of the major differences between a rowing and kettlebell workout is that kettlebells have 100’s of different workout movements you can perform. This makes them great for people who get tired of doing the same workout everyday!
Another key difference is the “weight-bearing” aspect of kettlebells. Rowing and kettlebells are both low-impact workouts, but a kettlebell is a “weight-bearing” exercise.
“Weight-bearing” exercises help promote bone growth and increase bone density. This is very important for people as they age and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis (more on this below).
This is why I always recommend older women to incorporate a kettlebell workout along with their rowing machine sessions.
As you probably know, there are a lot more kettlebell benefits that I encourage you to explore!
Can you see the kettlebells being used by The Rock and Joe Rogan above? They are actually primate bells that look like guerillas and chimpanzees!
Check out the Primal Bell Kettlebell line by ONNIT here. They also have some other really cool kettlebells like Zombies and IronMan.
You can also use the code GETONNIT to save 10% on any of their supplements.
While kettlebells provide a great full-body “functional” exercise, they also require extreme attention to technique.
A rowing machine only has one movement, which makes it very easy for a person to learn. Kettlebells, on the other hand, have 100’s of different variations that all require learning new movements.
This is why my #1 recommendation is to take it slow, use relatively light weight when starting, and add new kettlebell workouts in very slowly. Maybe 1 new kettlebell move a week or even every other week!
With so many different workouts, I cannot break down the technique of each one. However, I can point you to some great references.
- Onnit Academy Training videos. A fitness company with a strong focus on kettlebells and great instructional videos.
- Any video with Pavel Tsatsouline. The man credited with bringing the kettlebell from the former Soviet Union to the U.S..
- Any video with Steve Maxwell. Another pioneer of the kettlebell and great technique coach.
When watching instructional videos, always remember there is room for improvement! Don’t be a member of the “form police” on YouTube with negative comments. Most people are doing their best and providing free information that they feel is right!
If you don’t agree with something, don’t attack the person but instead provide positive constructive criticism!
Why are Rowing and Kettlebells a Perfect Match?
Combining a rowing and kettlebell workout is becoming more an more popular as more indoor rowing studios open.
You will often see rowing machine studios offering rowing kettlebell workouts along with other equipment like dumbbells, jump ropes, and medicine balls. Often times, the studio has yoga mats next to the rowers so people can hop off and perform their exercise right next to their machine.
After spending money on a rowing machine it is nice to be able to spend less than $100 on a few kettlebells to add to your home gym. The kettlebells won’t take up much space and can fit right alongside your rowing machine!
Here are a few reasons why rowing and kettlebell workouts are a perfect match.
In today’s fast pace environment, it seems people don’t want to sit on a rowing machine for an hour straight. Instead, they want movement and variation.
This is why a rowing kettlebell workout is a perfect combination!
People can row for a set period of time and then do a period of kettlebell workouts. This helps breakup the very repetitive and mundane aspects of a rowing machine. It often leads to a more interesting and fun workout, which usually means working out longer (i.e. burning more calories, blasting away fat, getting more toned!)
Performing a kettlebell rowing workout also creates more variation, which is extremely beneficial for muscles. Often times, when performing the same workout over and over, our bodies become adapted and efficient at this movement. While this can be good in some regards, it can also lead to a fitness “plateau” or “no improvements”.
By “shocking” our muscles with different workouts, it forces our muscles to adapt, grow, and be more resilient. Kettlebells are an excellent way to add variation and “shock” our muscles after rowing.
Target Specific Muscle Groups
Rowing is a full-body, functional fitness movement that gives you one of the best cardiovascular workouts you can find. However, you cannot alter the stroke much to target different muscles.
You can alter your stroke slightly to focus more on your arms or core, but not as much as doing a specific kettlebell workout.
Kettlebells are able to focus more on a specific area where you want improvement, which makes them a great supplement to rowing.
For example, if you want bigger “traps” (trapezius muscle) you can use the kettlebell to focus on this area in-between rowing sets. Chest is another muscle group that doesn’t get targeted on a rowing machine, so I often do kettlebell exercises that incorporates a chest workout.
Low-Impact & Weight Bearing
Both exercises are also low-impact which is a great benefit for anyone. Especially people who had an injury and are looking to recover and gain back strength.
Many older individuals enjoy rowing machines because they can no longer run due to the high-impact nature of running, but still want a great cardio workout.
While you always want to replace high-impact workouts with low-impact workouts, you don’t want to give up all “weight-bearing” exercises. “Weight-bearing” exercises require you to work against gravity, while “non weight-bearing” exercises do not.
Kettlebells add the “weight-bearing” feature that is left out on a rowing machine. Like I previously mentioned, this is very beneficial for maintaining overall bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
Double the Benefits
Rowing and kettlebell workouts are a perfect match because both offer full-body “functional” exercises that are great for burning calories, increasing metabolism, toning muscles, and all the other benefits listed above.
By combining the two, you are just creating double the benefits! This is why a rowing kettlebell workout is one my favorite exercise combinations!
Rowing Kettlebell Workout Examples
The best thing about a rowing and kettlebell workout is there are an unlimited amount of variations. You can easily come up with a new kettlebell rowing workout everyday, for the rest of your life, and it wouldn’t be difficult.
Below are some examples of rowing kettlebell workouts that you can use or alter anyway you like.
Maybe you want to row for a longer period of time and do less kettlebell exercises or vice versa. The key here is to make sure to perform proper technique throughout the entire workout.
Rowing Kettlebell WOD #1
- 1000m row
- 5:00 rest between row
- During the rest perform the following:
- Kettlebell swings (1:00 min)
- Ballistic row (1:00 min)
- Jump squat/ sumo jump lift (1:00 min)
- Rest (2:00 min)
If you feel you may need longer than a 2:00 min rest after performing your kettlebell exercises add in more time. On most rowers this just means using a stopwatch but on other rowers like the Concept2, you will want to program a “distance” interval workout with a set rest period.
Here are 3 videos that do a great job of explaining the technique involved in this rowing kettlebell WOD.
Kettlebell Swing Video #1
Kettlebell Swing Video #2
Ballistic Kettlebell Row
Kettlebell Sumo Jump Lift
This rowing kettlebell WOD is an “explosive” set of exercises and can be modified to your liking.
Instead of “ballistic rows” you can perform regular rows without having to catch the kettlebell. You can also perform regular kettlebell deadlifts and disregard the “jump” portion.
Rowing Kettlebell WOD #2
Another great rowing kettlebell workout is a short rowing piece followed by a kettelbell push-up to renegade row. Here is what it may look like:
- 500m row
- Kettlebell push-up/renegade row (1:00 min)
- Rest (2:00 min)
This kettlebell exercise is another great full-body exercise that targets the chest, back and core.
Rowing Kettlebell WOD Exercise List
Below is a list of other rowing kettlebell workout examples that you can mix and match. Try to research technique videos before performing any of the exercises.
Setting up a rowing workout is more of a personal preference. It really depends if you want to do longer or shorter rowing sessions. Try alternating between steady-state exercises and HIIT training to add variation and avoid hitting plateaus.
Choose a metric to track such as time, distance, or calories and add one of the kettlebell exercises listed below. Make sure to allow a long enough rest period to recovery sufficiently before continuing to your next rowing piece.
- Kettlebell Swing
- Push-up to Kettlebell Renegade Row
- Kettlebell Walking Lunges
- Kettlebell Squat Press
- Turkish Get-Up
- Kettlebell Snatches
- Kettlebell Push Press
- Ballistic Kettlebell Row
- Kettlebell Jump Squat
All of these kettlebell workouts have many online technique tutorials that you can watch on YouTube.
In my opinion, a rowing and kettlebell workout is one of the best combinations you can perform. Both are true “strength” and “endurance” exercises.
The combination also allows a person to perform a workout that closely aligns with their fitness goals and targets specific areas they want to improve.
If a person wants to get better at rowing, they can spend more time on the rowing machine with only a few kettlebell sets. If a person wants more lean muscle, they can perform shorter rowing sessions and spend more time doing kettlebells.
The choice is entirely up to you!
If you want to check out some other articles related to rowing machine workouts check out:
- Burning Calories on a Rowing Machine
- How Does a Rowing Machine Effect Your Body?
- Rowing Machine For Better Abs
I hope you enjoyed my Rowing and Kettlebell Workout article! If you have a favorite rowing kettlebell workout please leave it in the comment section below.
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.