Rowing machines are excellent for cardio workouts. The machine gives you a full body workout targeting your lower body, mid section and upper body muscles in one workout.
In this post we shall investigate which type of rowing machine is the best. We shall analyze the different types available on the market and list the different features as we point out the pros and cons of each type
This will help you, our audience to make an informed decision when buying a rowing machine for your home gym equipment. Before we investigate the different types lets look at some points you must consider when buying a rowing machine.
What to consider when buying a rowing machine
The first thing you need to do is set the budget for this piece of equipment. How much are you willing to spend. Rowing machine prices range from just over $100 up to $2000 depending on the types and the features.
Set yourself a reasonable budget that should accommodate other considerations listed below
2. Durability, Service and Warranty
You need to get a strong machine that will not break down within a few days or months. The machine should last some years of rigorous use before you start repairs. In any case ensure the suppliers are readily available with spares in case of a breakdown.
You don’t want to end up with a machine just sitting in your house not being used. The best is if it comes with some warranty period. Warranty is a sign that the supplier has confidence in their products and it covers you as well.
Compare and contrast the features that come with each rowing machine. Check that the rowing machine can at least monitor your work rate in terms of the calories burned, distance and stroke count.
It must have an LCD display for easy read. As one of the features the machine must have adjustable resistance. It must have some way of varying the resistance so you can increase or decrease the level of difficulty of the exercise.
4. Supported Weight
Check how much weight the machine is able to support in view of your weight. It will be futile to buy a machine that will not be able to support your weight.
Leave a gap of about 10% between your body weight and the supported weight just to be safe. For example, if your weight is 200 Lbs ensure the machine can support up to 220 Lbs.
5. Space considerations
Since you are buying the rowing machine for home use, make sure to check how much space the model you have chosen will require for safe use. Ensure you have enough space in your home to position the machine.
Some machines are foldable and you can store it in the cupboard. Such a machine will be useful where you have to exercise in the middle of the sitting room and then fold up the machine and store it in the cupboard after the workout.
6. Comfort and Noise
Check the level of comfort on the machine. Ensure it has non-slip foot pads. Check that it has padded handles that will not blister your palms. Check that the seat has padding and you can sit comfortably as you workout.
Check the level of noise made by the machine. In a block of apartments you would not want to offend the neighbors with noisy workouts.
What makes them different
An indoor rowing machine simulates the act of rowing in a canoe on the river. When you pull on the rows of a canoe the water in the river resists the movement of the canoe such that it is not easy to pull on the rows.
The indoor rowing machines are differentiated by the resistance installed on the machines. Resistance being the opposition to the motion when you pull on the handle bars of the machine.
There would be no exercise to your muscles if it was easy to pull the handles and they just move without effort. It has to be difficult to move the handles so that you put your muscles under strain. You have to put effort to move the handles and complete the strokes
Given the different resistances we have found 5 main types of rowing machines that we listed below. There are however some that combine 2 types of resistances and they fall in between. This is the 6th type
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The types of Rowing Machines
1. Magnetic Resistance
This type makes use of magnets to induce resistance to the movement of the flywheel on the machine. It is the quietest compared to the other types because there is no contact friction with the moving parts. The level of resistance is easily adjustable by turning a nob which moves the magnets closer to increase the resistance and apart to decrease.
Our pick of the Magnetic type :
MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine
Features and Pros
- Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine
- 16-Level Adjustable Resistance
- Smooth and super quiet rowing experience will not disturb your family or neighbors.
- Comfortable Ergonomic Design seat. Hand grips with high-density foam
- Multi-functional LCD screen tracking count, total count, reps/min, time, and calories
- Footplates with adjustable straps to keep your feet secure during the workout.
- Foldable Design with transportation wheels
- Dimensions Assembled: 76.4″L x 19.7″W x 16.5″ W Folded size: 37.4″L x 42.3″H.
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 243 LBS
- Delivered 95% assembled
- Water Bottle Holder
- One Year Free Warranty
- The monitor does not track distance
- Several complaints with the monitor not working properly
2. Hydraulic Piston
This rowing machine makes use of a hydraulic piston fixed between the foot pedals and the moving handles. The hydraulic piston resists the movement of the arms making it difficult to pull the bars.
The level of resistance is adjustable as per your requirements.
Our Pick of the Hydraulic Resistance :
Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine
Features and Pros
- Adjustable Hydraulic Resistance with manual control knob – 12 settings
- Maximum User Weight of 250 pounds.
- Assembled Dimensions: 50 L x 36.22 W x 20 H Inches / Weight: 34 Pounds
- Foldable for safe storage after use
- LCD Monitor displays time, row count, and calories
- Molded Ergonomic Design Seat
- Pivoting footplates with safety straps. 2 strap positions
- Hyraulic Piston heats up after prolonged use and loses some resistance
3. Air Resistance
The flywheel for this machine consists of blades that cut through the air like a fan. The resistance is adjustable by means of a damper that controls the air inlet into the flywheel blades. The more air in, the more effort required to spin the flywheel blades thereby varying the resistance
Our pick of the Air Resistance type :
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Features and Pros
- Air resistance
- Damper to adjust Airflow Resistance from levels 1 – 10
- 500Lbs user capacity – Commercial Grade machine
- Comes with a Performance Monitor 5 (PM) LCD display, User Manual and PM Quick Start Guide
- PM LCD is back lit and has USB connector for saving workouts on flash drive.
- PM measures strokes, distance and time intervals
- PM connects wirelessly to Heart Rate Belt and Fitness Apps
- Sign up for Concept2’s Workout Of the Day (WOD) emails.
- Online Challenge and Rankings allows you to compare yourself against others. Good for motivation
- Comes with a tool set and illustrated assembly instructions.
- Dimensions: Assembled 8 ft x 2 ft (2.44m x 0.61m) For Storage 25 in x 33 in x 54 in (0.64m x 0.84m x 1.37m).
- Separates into two pieces for storage after use; Caster wheels make it mobile
- Adjustable footrests and ergonomic handle.
- Warranty: Limited two year and five-year Warranty
- Expensive but very strong.
- The nickel-plated steel chain needs oiling every 40 hours of use.
- You have to assemble the machine on receipt. Might be an extra cost if you have to hire someone
- Some whooshing noise from the fan. Enough to just affect people in the room
4. Water Resistance
This type has a round water tank. The flywheel has blades that swirl the water around the tank to induce resistance. You can increase the resistance by adding more water into the tank up to the marked maximum level.
Our pick of the Water Resistance Rowing Machine :
Mr. Right Water Rowing Machine
Features and Pros
- Water Resistance Machine
- Transport wheels for easy movement. Can be stored in upright position.
- Comfortable ergonomic design seat, active recoil system and height adjustable footplates with straps.
- Bluetooth Monitor- with 3 modes, Manual, Interval Custom and Target
- Connects to Fitness Apps via Bluetooth
- Solid oak wood dual rails give an elegant furniture look in the home.
- Increase resistance by increasing the amount of water in the tank
- Dimensions: 82 L x 22 W x 20 H inches; Weight: 58.5 Pounds;
- Maximum User Weight Supported : 320 pounds.
- Aviation grade poly carbon water tank. Very strong and built to last
- Rechargable Electric Water Pump which makes filling and emptying the tank super easy.
- Comes with a waterproof dust bag to cover and protect your rowing machine when not in use.
- Swooshing sound of water
- Needs to be assembled on delivery
- Water has to be changed every 4 months
- Not foldable – Will not fit in a storage cupboard
5. Body Weight Incline
This type works using your body weight and incline for resistance. As you pull on the handle bars and straighten your legs the seat which moves on an inclined plane pushes up the incline.
The resistance comes from having to push your body weight up the inclined plane. The level of incline is adjustable which varies the resistance.
Our Pick of the Incline Rowing Machine :
Sunny Health & Fitness Incline Rowing Machine SF-RW5720
Features and Pros
- Incline and Body Weight Resistance
- Max Supported Weight: 350 LBS.
- Non-slip grip handlebars provide orbital motion to give the user an authentic rowing experience.
- 5 Levels of Incline for Resistance. The greater the incline the harder the workout
- Digital Console: The meter displays your time, calories, reps/min and total count.
- Large anti-slip pedals with straps to secure your feet
- Machine Dimensions: 55L X 22W X 18H.
- Seat dimensions: 11L X 14W X 2H in
- Mobile Device / Tablet Holder
- Fitted with transportation wheels to enable movement to storage or another room
- Can be folded for easy storage
- 3 year Warranty on the structure/frame and 90 day Warranty for parts and components.
- On the lower end of the price range of the machines but you get your full body workout
- Needs to be assembled on delivery
6. Combined Resistances
The combined resistance type has 2 resistances installed to work in combination
Our pick of the combined type :
SereneLife – Air and Magnetic Rowing Machine
Features and Pros
- Air and Magnetic Resistance
- Made from durable, steel metal alloy and engineered ABS. Premium quality and built to last.
- Supported Weight of 250 Lbs
- Adjustable Resistance – 8 levels of resistance
- Digital LCD Display to monitor time, strides, distance, revolutions per minute and calories
- Auto power off for the LCD to save batteries
- Tension Control
- Foldable for easy storage
- Assembled Rower Size (L x W x H): 77. 2’’ x 16. 1’’ x 29. 9’’, Folded Rower Size (L x W x H): 39. 3” x 17. 7” x 53. 1”
- ONE YEAR Warranty for frame and parts
- Has to assembled on arrival
- Some complaints of resistance not up to expected standard given that its combined resistance
It is wise to invest in a rowing machine to add to your home gym equipment. The answer to which type of rowing machine is best lies with you the decision maker. Use the above information as a guide when buying a rowing machine.
A Rowing Machine gives a fullbody workout in a short time. According to Havard Health Publishing a 125 Lbs person will burn 210 calories in 30 minutes of rowing. You get the benefits of a cardio workout as it raises your heart rate and gets you sweating.
>> Click here for a comparison of Rowing Vs Spinning <<
Aim to make regular exercise a life time habit. Do not spend more than 3 straight days without exercising. Regular exercise has many benefits for our health.
>> Click here for 10 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise <<
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