Rowing Machine Buying Guide - Are you a fan of rowing? Read our guide to help you find the perfect Rowing Machine!

Rowing Machine Types

If you are considering a Rowing Machine for your home gym, you are in the right place! To help you make an informed choice, we have assembled for you in a brief guide all you should know about rowing machines.

At a glance you will notice some major differences in build. So let us begin with the different types you will encounter. 

Water Rowing Machines

Quality Water rowing machines offer the most realistic simulation for rowing fans, but they are also the most expensive option, with the cost exceeding 1000€. However, they are worth it for their distinct advantages. Stylish wooden rowing machines are functional fitness furniture, designed not to be hidden away like other unsightly gym equipment, but to look at home in your living room.

Aesthetics aside, the feeling of a water rower is superior to that of traditional machines, as the mass of water offers genuine drag, distributing the load evenly along your body. By the “rule of cubes”, the amount of work you apply dictates the speed at which you row. Because water is 800 times more dense than the air, the more work you do, the more resistance/drag you can overcome and the faster you move. This makes the resistance infinitely variable.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowing machines are the most basic type of rowing machine. These machines have a similar type of resistance to exercise bikes. Magnets are placed next to the flywheel and create a drag on the spinning flywheel. Changing the resistance involves moving the magnets closer the flywheel for more resistance. Resistance is then changed manually during the workout. Their cost usually ranges between 300€ and 700€ depending on resistance type (manual or electronic). This type is an ideal choice for those looking for an effective training tool at an affordable price. 

Air Resistance Rowing Machines

This is the main type of rowing machine that you will see in a professional gym, along with water rowing machines.  The resistance is created as the blades of the flywheel push against the surrounding air. Rowing faster creates more resistance on the flywheel blades which in turn makes it harder to row. You are likely to find variations of this type, which combine both magnetic resistance and air resistance to offer a more affordable alternative to air rowing machines.

Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Hydraulic rowers use a piston mechanism to provide resistance in a limited number of levels. Their build quality is generally inferior to other types, while the piston mechanism can often become stiff after some use and put extra pressure on the welding and your joints. Hydraulic machines are by far the most economic option, with their cost ranging usually up to 250€ depending on the number of pistons.

What you should pay attention to, before making your choice


Resistance type and levels vary greatly depending on what sort of rowing machine you choose. 

For example, in water rowing machines the resistance is based on your intensity and is therefore infintely variable. In magnetic and hydraulic rowers, you will find a finite number of levels where you adjust the resitance by rotating a dial or the pistons. Remember it is the total resistance produced by the system that matters, so we do not recommend basing your decision on the number of resistance levels alone. 

Rail Length

Some of the cheaper models may come with a shorter rail, making them almost inoperable by taller users. If your height is more than 1.80m, then you should probably look for a model with a rail length of 115cm or more.

Maximum User Weight

This is a simple but important factor, useful to indicate the quality of the rowing machine frame. Commercial models often come with ratings that approach or even exceed 180 kg, because they are used non-stop at the gym. In home-use equipment, the higher quality models come with a user weight rating of 120 kg or more.

Make sure you have the right space

Thoroughly checking the available room in your home is an important first step, as rowers can take up quite a bit of space. With the exception of hydraulic rowers, all other types range between 2 and 2.5m in length when fully assembled. Keep in mind, that you will also need an extra 50cm around the machine so that you can work out confortably. This will allow your back and elbows to extend beyond the machine during your movement. 

We would caution you to avoid spaces with increased heat or humidity, as they could damage the electronic components of your rowing machine such as the console and in some cases even void its warranty.

Folding ability

Even though rowing machines can take up quite a bit of space, the good news is that most of them come with some kind of folding ability to help you save space. Certain models can simply balance vertically, while others can fold in the middle. So before you buy, check that the model you are interested in, can fold.

So what are the benefits of rowing?

Rowing is an exceptional and traditional cardio exercise, which truly engages the entire body, as each repetition requires equal energy from the upper and lower body. 

This training will help your cardiovascular system and incease your heart rate level. As a result your blood circulation will improve. Your heart and lungs will become stronger, increasing your general stamina, something you will notice in your daily routine. Furthermore, resistance favors strength and helps the physical condition of your muscles, while the lack of weights means less impact on your joints and thus smaller likelihood of injuries. This makes rowing an ideal workout for individuals who have difficulties with their knees or hips. Last but not least, rowing burns approximately 600 to 1000 calories per hour, making it a particularly effective choice for weight loss programs.

For any additional questions, we are always at your disposal! 

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