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  • Writer's pictureAmy Hildebrandt

Hitting the Gym: Back to Basics

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Tips and workouts from Coach Amy Hildebrandt

For the past 6 months, we’ve been thrown off routine and unable to access our usual workout tools. Fortunately, rowing is accessible again and gyms are re-opening in phases. For those of us who didn’t create their own home gym, getting back into any type of circuit or weightlifting routine may seem like a daunting task but one of the easiest ways is to start simple.

Where Do I Begin?

No need to restart from where you left off. The body may not be ready to make the same dynamic movement or lift similar weight. Just keep it simple. First and foremost, start with a dynamic warm-up. Get those joints moving! Activate that core! Elevate that heart rate! Simplest movements are usually the best and it doesn’t take much for the neurons to start firing. You can do each movement for a number of reps, time, length of the floor, or any combination thereof.

Ready to Move

Circuit Training

Bodyweight exercises are a great way to re-introduce the body to circuit training and movement patterns for lifting. You will get out of them what you put into them. If you are just going through the motions without thinking about what muscles are supposed to active, the exercise may seem too easy. Think about specifically targeting the muscles. Think about activating your core.

If you know you need the extra challenge of adding in weights, start light and add weight as you become more comfortable. The important thing to keep in mind is form. Once form starts to diminish, decrease weight or back to bodyweight.

There are two ways you can approach a set of exercises: Interval and/or AMRAP

Interval – each exercise done for x amount of time with x amount of rest in between

a. Ex: 1’ on/ 20” off, 2-3’ of rest between rounds

b. 3-4 rounds

AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible

a. Try to complete a set of exercises as many times as possible in a given amount of time

b. Ex: Complete 6 exercises as many times as possible in 16’

c. Each exercise has a specified number of reps


“I’ve been active all of quarantine and I know I am ready to lift weights.” That’s great to hear and I applaud you for your activism. I suggest starting with lighter weights before jumping in. It will give you a chance to remember movement patterns and can be a built-in warm-up. The easiest and safest way to re-start is to use dumbbells. You can start light and have more variability. Barbells can also be used but do keep in mind the standard barbell is 45lbs. If you are doing any overhead exercises or squats, I strongly recommend having a second person around unless you are very in tune with your body and limits.

Start with major muscle groups and work towards the smaller. Squats, deadlifts, and rows are every rowers’ major lifts. However, since rowing works mainly on one of plane of motion, lateral movements (side-to-side) are just as important to give the body more dynamic motion and greater stability. We can’t neglect all of our stabilizers!

Keep in mind: Take your time. Give yourself as much rest as needed. Continuously hydrate throughout.


Whew! What a workout! Okay, now you’re done. If you have time, STRETCH! If you need to get going, build in a stretching session during the day. It is critical to stretch post-workout (and any day in between) to maximize range of motion, start recovery, and continuously help the body be ready for adaptation.

It can take 4-6 weeks to start seeing the changes with your body and in your rowing. But you may feel a difference within a week with how your body is moving and feeling. It is a process and patience is needed. Having a workout buddy will help keep you accountable and is just more fun.

Below is a sample workout. It is a bodyweight workout but you can add in dumbbells. If you have any questions or need a modification due to difficulty or injury for any of the exercises, feel free to reach out. Get sweaty and have fun!

Sample Workout


· 20 Squat with Overhead Reach

· 10 each leg Lunge to One Arm Overhead Reach

Reach toward the front leg or rear

· 10 each Thread the Needle

like to add a full thoracic movement by also reaching to the sky

· 10 Downward Dog to Cobra to Child’s Pose

2-3 count hold in each pose

Block 1 – 16mins continuous, repeat until time is up

· 30 Squat Jacks or Jumping Jacks

Two Variations of Squat Jacks

· 10 each Reverse Lunge to High Knee (opt add-in DBs)

Stay on one side and try not to let your foot tap the ground

· 10 Push-ups w/Double Shoulder Tap

Push-up then tap each shoulder twice. No shame to go to your knees

Keep those hips square as much as possible

· 20 Russian Twists (opt add-in DB)

Block 2 – 9 x 1’ on/30” off

Go through the three exercises 3 times with no extra rest after third exercise

· Eccentric Lunges (opt add-in DBs)

Stand in split squat, squat down for count of 4 and stand up in 1 count

Stay on same side for 30” and then switch

· Bicycle

· Scullers


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