🥇 Community Challenge: 500m Row, Sub-2 Minutes


  1. Hop on a rowing ergometer and start cranking.

  2. Complete 500 meters in 2 minutes or less.


I did it! You’re in pretty darn good shape.

I failed! Work on your conditioning. Try it again. Get better.


This is derived from a fitness test for rowing athletes. Now, coaches use this to test an athlete’s total body anaerobic power, but I think just getting sub-2 minutes is a pretty good indicator of overall fitness.

If you want to get picky about the test, drag factors should be set at 90 for females and 100 for males. (But I don’t think that’s a big of a deal. I just set mine to mediumish – not too light, not too hard. Rowing nerds will hate that.)

Try it out and post your results and experiences.

1 Like

I added the row machine once a week, five weeks ago.
500m = 1:50
2,000m = 7:41
3,900m = 15:00


I always row before lifting as part of my warmup. If I’m feeling sluggish I’ll take 2:05 to 2:10 for 500m, but if I have a reasonable amount of energy I do 1:55 or so. I’m not usually trying to go all out. I’ll give more of an effort on Friday (Thursdays are deadlifts) and see how it goes.


I’m lazy and don’t do any cardio apart from walking my dog and very light stuff with under11s football coaching. I pissed this though. I forgot to strap my feet up and I didn’t see what the drag was, but I’m happy with that.

I think I prefer the rower to cycling or running. If anyone has any suggestions for something I can do progressively for a maximum of 5-10 mins at the end of my workout once a week that won’t harm any other goals that would be awesome. I’m not well versed in cardio AT ALL.

If you got access to a rower I would recommend checking out the Beginner Pete Plan. It should give you some ideas.


The first time I tried this I added it to the end of a scheduled metcon session. Not the smartest move for testing purposes, but I was feeling froggy so I hopped:


Tire Flipping Machine: 25 flips, walking from one side to the other
Tire Flipping Machine: 30 flips with jump over tire (3 x 10)
Back Extension Machine: 3 x 15, bodyweight with holds
Ab Work: 4 rounds, banded sprinter’s crunch
500m Row Challenge: 1:48

Did the first 300m too fast and almost gassed out. Took a few breaths and finished up under 2 minutes. Tried it again fresh the following week and knocked off a few seconds.

The rower is awesome since it’s full body, if your form is halfway right. It’s the only cardio machine I actually own. I’ve always found it tough to use as NEPA though. It’s more of a go-hard machine. I’d rather just walk on an incline than try to row slowly.

I really like the stairmill too – revolving staircase, not stepper. Small steps, big steps (skipping a step), backwards, speed changes, holding a medball… so many ways to mix it up and they all suck. Positive adaptations seem fast though.

1 Like

This has been my experience with my rower, as well.

I’m in the middle of prepping for a move, but once I have space for the rower again, I’m going to give this challenge a shot.

1 Like

I set the timer to 2.00, got to about 1:40 and saw I still had quite a way to go so smashed the last bit out to finish on 501 in the 2 minutes. I felt like I could have gone a decent amount faster so I will see how I fare next time now I have a bar set.

I am extremely surprised I managed this because I consider myself extremely unfit right now. I can get short of breath just jogging across the road to beat the traffic sometimes, but rowing didn’t seem taxing at all. I think I could genuinely enjoy just pushing hard for a song length or two a couple of times a week.

Maybe I am underestimating myself. I haven’t had a chance to do the other challenge yet.

…or maybe someone set the rower to ez-mode

1 Like

Ha! I think there’s a good bit of carryover from lifting to general “cardio,” at least compared to the untrained person. Grab 100 regular, untrained people off the street and I bet 90%+ would fail this test, especially those over 30.

And I bet you’re a powerful puller and get a lot of distance per yank. [insert joke here]

1 Like

Next time set the countdown feature to 500m so you get a precise time for the 500m.


Agree 100%, especially for short duration work like this particular challenge.

1 Like

I thought the Concept II was hard (and still do!) until I tried the Versaclimber…Holy mother of God!!!

I bet! I’ve never had a gym that had one. Played with one at a resort once. Brutal.

I tried this today at the end of my total body workout. Ended up with 1:35 and a max heart rate of 164 according to my Apple Watch. I was convinced I could do around 1:30 and so went out way to hard and then blew up with 275m to go. Lol.

1 Like

I did a WOD this week of:
1 mile run
2000m row
1 mile run

The rowing portion was sub-8 minutes, just after a hard mile run . I’ve improved a lot on the rower and now enjoy it. I hated it for a while though.

1 Like

Ended up hitting 1:43.3. Somewhat disappointing, but not terrible for a middle-aged guy who doesn’t practice rowing.

1 Like

The rower is probably my favorite cardio machine. I used to do a series of 500m row sprints for my harder conditioning day. Best efforts were always around 5:06 minutes and 508m or so.

Now I do a five minute row as a warmup/full body activation before lifting. Usually cover between 1050m if I’m feeling sluggish up to 1150m if I’m at my best.

Need to work on my form. I think I could shave off a few seconds if I improved my pull (back) to push (legs) ratio in favor of the latter.

Based on this, I’m around the beginner level for my age (56 yrs), which sounds about right. I tend to set the damper at 7 these days. When doing the row sprints, I would do the first half at 7 and the second half of my sprints at 9.


Had a go at this after my workout yesterday, missed it by 9 seconds. Aiming to have done it by the end of next month.


Thanks for posting that, it gives me something to aim towards.

1 Like