The Ultimate 2K Rowing Plan

Man rowing on a Concept2 rowing machine
(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Rowing is hard, that’s why Steve Redgrave used to renounce the coxless four after seemingly every Olympics (only to inevitably knuckle down and scoop another gold medal at the next one). More specifically the 2,000m—the distance of every Olympic event emphasises endurance, power delivery and mental toughness. Rowing machine workouts are also one of the few forms of cardio that builds muscle. A 7min 30 sec 2K row is respectable and 7 min is impressive. Here’s how to achieve it.

Rowing Form

Yanking at the handle like a lawnmower? You need to work on your rowing technique. Here’s how the pros pull.

1. The Catch

Man on a Concept2 rowing machine is in the catch position

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Keep your arms straight, head up and upper body leaning forward from the hips. “Your shins shouldn’t go past vertical,” says David Hart of Concept2, makers of one of the best rowing machines. “And don’t overreach.”

2. The Drive

Man on a Concept2 rowing machine is in the drive position

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Start the drive by pressing with your legs. As you move back lean back slightly, then finally add the arm pull. “Your hands move in a straight line to and from the flywheel,” says Hart.

3. The Finish

Man on a Concept2 rowing machine is in the finish position

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

“At the end of the stroke, your upper body should be leaning back to about 11 o’clock. Keep the handle held lightly below your ribs, and don’t ‘chicken wing’ it- keep your elbows in.”

4. The recovery

Man on a Concept2 rowing machine is in the recovery position

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

“Extend your arms until they’re straight, then lean forward from your hips. Once your hands have cleared your knees, allow your knees to bend and slide the seat forward.”

The 2K Rowing Plan

Devised by Gym Jones coach Pieter Vodden, this 2K-smashing strategy takes just 11 days to complete. Repeat the whole thing until your best reaches the “respectable” time of 7min 30sec.

Day 1: Row for 30sec with 90sec recovery. Start by aiming to go 150m per 30sec period and increase that by 1m per round. Take it up as far as you can—170 is the goal.

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: Row 10 x 500m with 1min rest. Try and hold your intended 2K split time pace—so if you’re shooting for a 7min 2K, you need to hit 1min 45 sec. On the last round go all out.

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Rest

Day 6: Warm up for 10 minutes, and then row 1,000m as fast as possible.

Day 7: Rest

Day 8: Warm up for 10 minutes, and then row 1,500m as fast as possible.

Day 9: Rest

Day 10: Rest

Day 11: Warm up for 20 minutes at a slow pace, with occasional power 10s—10 hard strokes at your target 2K pace. Then row 2,000m as fast as possible.

Want to know why we recommend this rower? Read our Concept2 RowErg review. Want more options? Head to our selection of the best rowing machines.

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Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.