rowing machine

The Best Rowing Machines to Buy in 2018 (Updated July 2019)

 Introduction to rowing machines

This is an exercise machine containing parts which make you move as if you are in a rowing boat. It is used to measure the amount of energy the rower is using through equipment known as an Ergometer. It is also used to train every muscle group in the body by providing a cardiovascular workout that stimulates the heart and lungs, hence improving the body oxygen utilization.

When used properly the machine can burn up to 800 calories in an hour and also build muscle strength and tone up the arms, calves, abdominals, back, quads, and hamstrings. It is a great way to add muscles to the glutes.

Used by competitive rowers for training but are also found at the gym because it can also be used by people who want to strengthen their hearts and lungs because it elevates the heart rate over a period of time.

Contains an adjustable resistance which provides a low impact full body cardiovascular workout for the benefit of your body.

Rowing exercises include;

  • Simple rowing
  • Power curls which are great for building biceps
  • Side rows which increase pressure on the chest area
  • Sprints or extreme rowing which increases the cardio effect of the exercise.
  • The long distance which emphasizes strength by increasing resistance and lowering the cardio activity rate.

Muscles that a rowing machine works on;

  • Leg muscles
  • Midsection muscles
  • Upper back muscles
  • Arm muscles
  • Hip muscles

Rowing machine Features

  • Contains a monitor that is large and has a backlight whereby a rower can view their workout data clearly, and can also be used at night. The monitor will also give the rower the basic workout data to count the number of strokes per minute and the number of calories one can burn at a particular time, as well as the watts of energy one, expels during a workout session.
  • The machine should have a sturdy firm seat that won’t shake while one is exercising.
  • Should be placed at the center and at eye level when one is seated on the rower.
  • Should have a flywheel design which provides a smooth feel when the machine is in motion.
  • Have a friction-free resistant system.
  • Contain a resistance system which allows the rower to easily set to ones desired resistance level.
  • Durable construction and frame.



  • They are convenient because they can be used in one’s home due to their portability
  • Reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease because rowing increases oxygen consumption by elevating the heart rate.
  • Provides a total body workout by working with both the upper and lower body.
  • Effective aerobic exercise by ensuring the heart and lungs are healthy.
  • Effective weight loss by burning fat while building muscles.
  • Helps improve flexibility and stamina of the body.
  • Has a greater resistance than cycling because it provides resistance in two directions.
  • May be used for rehabilitation purposes because it is low impact in nature.
  • Has a lower risk of injury.
  • Provides a broader range in motion.
  • Great exercise for warming up because it gets the blood flowing.
  • Adds variation to the workout.
  • Suitable for all because it provides a low impact form of exercise which doesn’t stress the bones and joints.
  • Can be used in endurance training.
  • Tones and strengthens all muscles in the body.

These are four different types of rowing machines which are categorized by the way they produce resistance;

  • Flywheel resistance
  • Magnetic resistance
  • The water rower resistance
  • Hydraulic resistance

Flywheel Resistance

  • It is also known as Air resistance.
  • They obtain their resistance through a spinning fan flywheel. The spinning wheel resembles a cylindrical fan blade.
  • Contains a lever to adjust the airflow and the user is the one who controls the resistance level by how hard they row.
  • Allows the user to speed up or slow down because the resistance adjusts itself.
  • Has a handlebar which when pulled causes the flywheel to spin and create wind the more one pulls the more resistance one feels.
  • Used in high-intensity training and cross fit workouts.
  • Promotes a smooth rowing motion because of a large footprint caused by its long seat rail.
  • Recommended for Olympic athletics because it contains a strong resistance with a realistic feel.
  • The long rails make it suitable for taller rowers.
  • It is ideal for people of all fitness levels.
  • Examples of flywheel resistance include; Concept 2 Model D Indoor tower, Stamina Air rower 1399 sole SR500, Body craft VR 500.

Magnetic Resistance

  • It uses electromagnetics to create resistance.
  • May be measured using electronic component which displays details concerning distance, calories burned, among others.
  • Produces no friction and is usually silent.
  • The magnetic brake system makes the flywheel to spin and the magnet moves closer or farther away to create less or more resistance.
  • These machines are adjustable but contain a rigid rail that makes it difficult to fold and store it hence it is not ideal for home use.
  • Provides a smooth rowing motion and has a knob which is adjustable to control the resistance levels.
  • Examples include; Sunny Health and Fitness SF -RW 5515 rower, Stamina Avori Magnetic Exercise Rower.
  • Ideal for people of all fitness levels.
  • May range between 200 to 1400dollars.

The Water Rower Resistance

  • These machines contain an enclosed tank of water with paddles which are suspended inside to create resistance. As you pull the handlebars the paddles spin in the water creating resistance which feels similar to rowing a boat and the faster and harder one goes rows the more resistance it becomes.
  • May be adjusted to some point by removing and adding water inside the tank.
  • It closely resembles an outdoor rowing machine and the resistance is determined by rowing intensity.
  • It is ideal for people at all fitness levels because it provides a smoother rowing motion.
  • Examples include; Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine.
  • It may range from 700 to 2000 dollars.

Hydraulic Resistance

  • They are also known as Piston-rowing machines and these rowers contain pairs of hydraulic pistons that are connected to separate hand bars. The pistons connected provide resistance and are adjustable.
  • Has an adjustable knob used to control the amount of liquid that is flowing in and out of the pistons?
  • This type of machine is suitable for an arm workout and features a fixed seat position.
  • Can be bought for a home gym because the rowers can be folded up and stored for later use.
  • They are designed to be compact hence provide a less natural stroke.
  • Recommended to be used within 20 minutes at a time because the rowers are of lower build qualities making them overheat and sometimes the pistons leak oil.
  • Smallest compared to other resistant types and are suitable for people who are looking to experience indoor rowing.
  • Examples; Stamina 1215 Orbital rower.
  • The price to obtain such machinery will cost between 100 to 600 dollars.

Advantages of Rowing Machine

  • Simple to use
  • Provides a whole body workout
  • Excellent use to get maximum fitness
  • Low impact exercise
  • Ideal for people who are beginners

Disadvantages of Rowing Machine

  • Can cause back pain if not used in the correct way
  • Requires a lot of space if one wants to extend their arms and legs.
  • Can be a bit pricey for people on a budget.
  • Can be boring.

Pricing at Amazon

Rowing machines can be affordable or expensive depending on the type of resistance they provide. Water resistance rowers tend to be more expensive than the other types. They range from 100 to 2000 dollars. Be sure to check out more information about the prices at Amazon.

Examples of Rowing Machines 

  • Concept 2 Model D with PM5 Performance Monitor Indoor Rower Rowing Machine – It is an exercise equipment used by Olympic and elite level athletes and contains a durable construction and frame to last a lifetime and also deliver an effective cardiovascular workout which will increase and tone one physique. Available in two colors light gray or black and is priced at 945 dollars and has a five-star rating
  • Stamina ATS Air Rower 1405- It is an exercise equipment which produces a smoother resistance making it suitable for any fitness level enthusiast. Has a weight limit of 250 pounds and has simple function ability and can be assembled easily. It is priced at 299 dollars with a 4-star rating.
  • Sunny Health and Fitness SF -RW 5515 Rowing Machine- It is a magnetic resistance rowing machine and has 8 different resistance levels and each level can be adjusted by turning the knob at the center panel. Suitable for people who want an adjustable resistance so they can advance at their own pace and a great option for people who want a normal stroke but also want the resistance to be silent.

Bottom Line on rowing machines

In order to keep fit and stay in shape, it is recommended that you exercise using a rowing chair because it is suitable for people who have weak joints and are rehabilitating from surgery. It is also for people who want to shed and burn some calories no matter the age or current fitness regimen. A rowing machine is what you need to provide you with the right solution. So be sure to buy one that suits you best.











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