One of the absolute best pieces of equipment in your fitness center is the Concept2 indoor rower — the "erg," as many call it, which is short for ergometer.

While an ergonometer is simply a machine used to measure work performed by exercising, the short name "erg" has stuck to the rower more than any other exercise machine in your gym.

Truth be told, a great many folks include an expletive either before or after, or in place of, the words rower or erg.

Of all the machines in your fitness center, the rower is tops at incorporating cardio and strength. Of the rowers that you have an opportunity to buy, Concept2 — in the opinion of myself and a great many others — is the best. Most college teams, world champions and CrossFit "boxes" use Concept2.

Workout programs on the rower are as varied as your imagination. Here are a few to consider. If you don't know how to set the computer for special rows, ask.

Starting out

If you've just started using the rower, build your base by working up to at least a 20-minute, steady-state row.

Short work efforts

  1. Five sets of 4-minute rowing at 85 percent effort. Each set is followed by one minute of relaxed, easy rowing.
  2. Two sets of 2,000-meter rowing. Each set is followed by four minutes of relaxed, easy rowing. Execute each 2,000 meters at the following different stroke rates while keeping the same pace (speed):
  • 1,000 meters at 22 strokes per minute
  • 500 meters at 24 spm
  • 250 meters at 26 spm
  • 250 meters at 28 spm

Medium work efforts

  1. Three sets of eight minutes rowing at a consistent high effort. Each set is followed by four minutes of easy rowing.
  2. 10 sets of 500-meter rowing, trying to keep at 90 percent effort. Each set is followed by two minutes of easy rowing.
  3. 10,000-meter time trial. Go for personal best.

Long work effort

  1. Five sets of 2,000-meter rowing at 80 percent to 85 percent effort. Each set is followed by two minutes of easy rowing.
  2. Long, consistent half-marathon: 21,097 meters.

Go to for more ideas, but come up with some of your own workouts, too. You, better than anyone else, know your limits and when those limits increase, so you can always be getting the best input to realize the best results.

Happy erg-ing.

Military Muscle columnist Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Florida. Email him at

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