How to Choose The Right Free Online Workout For You

How many times have you looked at a rowing workout somewhere online and thought, “Is that free online workout good for me to do?”


Free workouts are a dime a dozen, and that’s part of the problem.


They’re everywhere: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  #Sweatyselfie images, reels, TikToks and full videos of all manner of workouts. Often with hundreds of repetitions, huge dumbbells or kettlebells, super low rowing machine splits, all the things. 


Probably hashtagged #beastmode, #nopainnogain, #gainz, etc.


It’s ballooned in the pandemic, too. Now you can find all manner of free online workouts (and paid) from trainers and would-be rowing coaches who may or not actually know what they’re doing.


Bottom line, There’s A LOT of dubious content out there, especially these days as trainers latch on to the explosive growth of indoor rowing.   


How to choose the right online workout for you

Here are some questions to ask:


  • Is the person who programmed the workout qualified? Like, do they have a personal training or rowing certification? Particularly in an online fitness world – and in a world where many of us aren’t in the same physical shape we were pre-pandemic – knowing what to do to keep people safe is essential.


          Certifications aren’t everything, but they let you know that the person had to pass someone else’s test and did more than watch hours of random YouTube videos.


  • How much work volume does it have?  Hundreds or even dozens of repetitions, particularly of unfamiliar moves, is a red flag in many cases.  


  • How long will it take? You should be able to complete most workouts in an hour or less, including your warmup and cooldown.  There’s no need to do anything longer than that on a regular basis; In fact it can be counterproductive.


  • Are the moves familiar to you? It’s fine (and fun!) to have a new move in a workout, but make sure you understand it and are comfortable doing it without load before trying it with weight.  Also if the workout is ALL new to you, you’re better off subbing in familiar exercises for most of the new moves.  Work new exercises in gradually as you get more skilled.


  • Does the workout include scaling options, and can I perform the scaled version correctly? Scaling allows you to vary the workout’s complexity and difficulty based on your general fitness and ability, and also how you feel on that particular day. Good workouts (and good instructors) will provide alternatives for more challenging moves.





Once you decide to do a new workout, be in test mode with it the first time.  You’ll know in the first 10 minutes if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. 


If you find that’s the case, STOP.  Cool down and be done, or move to something that’s more in your range on that day.  Consider this your permission to do that.


Other strategies to try (that can also apply to any workout on any day): If the workout has several rounds, do the first one and see how you feel before moving on.  Or, cap the time: Follow the routine for 20-25 minutes and re-evaluate.


One note: Never be afraid to take a brief break to catch your breath and regroup.  Drop your effort if you’re rowing, or put the weight down if you’re doing an interval workout.  There’s no point in doing a move if you can’t do it correctly.


If at any point your technique fails and you can no longer do the workout correctly or safely you are DONE, and that’s completely fine!


Want an online workout you can trust?


We offer them both live and on-demand, taught by our world-class master instructors.  If you join us live, you get real-time coaching on your rowing technique, and the fun of doing it with a community of friends from around the world. 


The workouts we do at UCanRow2 are tried, tested and true, We’re all about rowing for EVERY body, so making workouts that meet you where you are is built into our DNA. Come row with us




Got a question, or a workout you’d like to see? Drop it in the comments! 

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