Whilst suffering from shin splints I required a workout to help me not only retain my fitness levels, but improve them, since I was training for that illusive sub 39 minute 10k club. I needed something with very low impact, anything otherwise would aggravate the pain in my shins.

I looked across the floor of the old school, Rocky-esque gym and there were two rowers, the only two in the gym, looking lonely. Why not? I thought to myself. After half a tabata, 2 minutes worth of exercise, I felt ‘the burn’ in muscles I didn’t even know I had! My buttocks felt it that much I thought I was perched on hot coals, with a blanket of fire wrapped around my abs! I was using muscle groups which I’d hadn’t the chance to develop or condition up to now.

Here are a few of examples of what I exercises which I implemented whilst I had shin splints;


I have previously talked about the benefit of tabatas in the blog 10k in 7 weeks. They’re simply twenty seconds intense rowing (or exercise) followed by ten seconds rest, repeated for a total of 8 times, overall time taken to complete the exercise is 4 minutes. Might not sound a lot, but when you perform three or four tabatas with 5 minutes rest in between and you’ll soon feel them. They’re only four minutes long, give them a try, let me know what you think.

Double Up;

0:45 row, 0:45 rest, 1:30 row, 1:30 rest, 3:00 row, 3:00 rest and repeat twice. A simple and effective workout to improve stamina and increase fat loss. Crank the resistance up to the maximum and only lower if you really really need to. Perform these as a sprint for maximum benefit, by the time you finish the first set you’ll be glad of the 3 minutes rest!

Press, Pull, Press, Row;

1 x Press Up Burpee, 3 x Pull Ups, 5 x Military Presses, 7 calories on the rowing machine. This sort of routine can really work the body, making your heart work hard to transfer and supply the blood to the different parts of the body. I’d recommend setting a timer on your phone, watch or by just keep count on a clock, to 20 minutes and repeating these four exercises until the timer goes off. I found it helpful to count how many ‘rounds’ I could perform and then try to best that number the next time.

These aren’t extremely hard exercises but they really do do the job. Rowing is actually a full body workout, in one continuous movement you’re working the legs, core, back and arms. This can only be of benefit to your body, whether its improving posture or developing the important and often neglected muscles around the hips.


For me rowing was perfect, it helped me carry on training whilst I was injured and has certainly increased my fitness levels overall. I see no reason why any budding runner with an minor injury in the leg area shouldn’t entertain rowing. We all come across niggles every now and then, some bigger than others, if I experienced any kind of ‘injury’ in my foot, achilles or shins I would 110% resort to rowing. If your injury isn’t to severe and you can perform the rowing action without pain, then do it. What have you got to lose? From now on I will be implementing rowing into all of my running and fitness regimes. It’s that good.

Let me know how you find the workouts above, or if you have any variations or different routines on the rower, use the comment box below, tweet me @gareth_crook or email me on [email protected] and we’ll have a chat.