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Fitness & Health

03rd Sep 2019

The rowing machine workout behind Gareth Bale’s elite endurance levels

Gareth Bale's La Liga season has got off to flyer - and he credits this rowing workout with whipping him into shape during pre-season

Alex Roberts

The Welshman is arguably the first name on the Real Madrid teamsheet at the moment – and his lung-busting fitness levels are partly responsible

Gareth Bale has recently helped to launch Rowbots, a brand-new London gym that combines rowing machine intervals with floor-based strength training exercises.

Bale credits rowing with whipping him into shape in pre-season, which is why he got involved in the business.

Yesterday, I attended one of the classes at Rowbots led by head trainer Hendrick Famutimi. The workout was a sweat fest as expected, but one which activated every major muscle group in the body.

The workout lasted for 45 minutes in total and was split into three, fifteen minute sections.

Half the class starts on the rower, while the other half begins with floor-based strength exercises.


The rowing sequence went as follows:
  • 15 seconds medium intensity / 15 seconds fast row
  • 30 seconds medium intensity / 30 seconds fast row
  • 60 seconds medium intensity / 60 seconds fast row
This sequence is repeated for seven minutes, non-stop.


Those working out on the floor must select a pair of dumbbells for the following exercises. You don’t want to go too heavy as you’ll be performing 20-30 reps per exercise, but don’t go too light either. You want to maintain tension on the muscle in order to gain strength.

The floor exercises are as follows:

  • Alternating lunges into dumbbell squat
  • Side lunges
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Surrender
  • Burpees
  • Butterfly sit-ups
Surrenders are performed by holding one of the dumbbells high above your head, dropping down into a lunge, and then bringing your other knee down too. You complete the surrender by returning to the standing position, all while keeping the dumbbell above your head.
Each of these seven exercises is performed for a minute. After the seven minutes is up, you switch places. Rowers drop to the floor, those on the floor move to the rowing machines.
These seven-minute sequences are repeated three times.

Warm Down

To finish off, you alternate between med ball slams for 45 seconds and maximum intensity on the rower, also for 45 seconds. The aim is to reach the furthest distance possible. Rest for one minute in between the switchover.

The workout is wrapped up with three to five minutes of stretching and meditation at the end.