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Rowing Machine Buying Guide

Rowing Machine Buying Guide

By Lisa Selvaggio

Have you thought about adding a rowing machine to your home gym? If you haven’t, you might want to consider it. There are a host of benefits that you can derive from this exercise machine, which can give you an upper and lower body workout, while also serving as a low-impact form of cardio. And this is an easy-to-use piece of equipment that gives you the chance to make your workout routine more dynamic and fun.

Before you head out and purchase any old rowing machine, it’s wise to take some time to learn about the various options that are available, along with their pros and cons. That way, you can make the right decision and take your exercise sessions to the next level.

Air Rowers

An air rower is a well-known type of rowing machine that utilizes fan air resistance to create a challenging workout for any fitness level. These machines will respond to your effort, so there will be more resistance when the flywheel spins at higher speeds. You can find machines that feature manual control to adjust the resistance however you’d like, and some models will have a flywheel that also acts like a workout fan, blowing a nice breeze on you as you exercise. Just be aware that this type of rowing machine is not silent.

Here is our top pick in the air rower category:

  • Concept2 Model D – This rowing machine is easy to assemble, and its noise level is minimal. The airflow is adjustable, and you can also feel a nice breeze while using it. It also features an ergonomic handle and wireless heart rate data, along with adjustable footrests. Plus, the backlit Performance Monitor 5 (PM5) includes workouts, feedback about your workout session, and games. And when you need to store it away, it will divide into two sections with no tools necessary.

Water Rowers

The great thing about water rowers is that they use water for resistance, so this can create a natural and realistic movement. And every time your oar hits the water, you’ll hear the splash, so you can go ahead and imagine that you’re rowing on a lake rather than in your workout room. Like air rowers, these are durable machines, and they’re appropriate for all fitness levels. Also, the resistance will depend on the effort that you’re using. Just keep in mind that these rowing machines tend to be pricey.

Here is our top pick in the water rower category:

  • WaterRower GX Studio – With this water rower, which is handcrafted from sustainable ash hardwood, affordability combines with durability. It features a GX Monitor that lets you set up your session for distance and time, and it will give you feedback on other aspects of your workout, such as stroke rate, calories burned, and speed/intensity. When not in use, you can flip it vertically to save space.

Magnetic Rowers

The highest quality magnetic rowers on the market are great for those who want a product that will work quietly. These machines control resistance by using electromagnetics to engage a mechanical brake. Also, the resistance can be automated or adjustable, so you can choose the amount that’s most appropriate for your current fitness level. Unfortunately, the resistance will be constant, regardless of how hard you work, so these machines don’t mimic real-life rowing.

Here is our top pick in the magnetic rower category:

  • Sole SR400 Rower – With this rowing machine, you can enjoy a smooth, natural pull, thanks to the combination of wind resistance and magnetic resistance. You can choose from various built-in workout programs, and noise is minimal. Plus, the high sitting position makes it easier to get on and off the machine. And when you’re not using it, you can fold it up to store it away.

Hydraulic Rowers

If you’re in search of a rowing machine that won’t take up a lot of space, a hydraulic rower might be the way to go. It works quietly by using one or two hydraulic pistons, and you can adjust the resistance by using a dial on each piston. These rowers also tend to be on the more affordable end, but take care while you shop, as some might be lacking in durability and sturdiness, and they might be so poorly designed that they burn your skin. You definitely want to stick with those models that will not only be friendly on your wallet, but will also be long-lasting and safe. And take note: these machines won’t make you feel as though you’re really rowing, even though they can still provide you with a solid workout.

Here is our top pick in the hydraulic rower category:

  • Stamina BodyTrac Glider – This is a durable, easy to assemble, and affordable machine. It has oar-like rowing arms, rather than a single bar, so you can enjoy a full range of motion. Plus, the resistance is adjustable, and this machine features a monitor that shows you data like calories burned, stroke count, and workout time.

Plenty of Top-Quality Rowing Machines to Choose From!

Once you figure out what type of rowing machine you prefer, it will be easier to find the perfect model for your workout needs. Then, as you use your new rowing machine, you’ll realize why this piece of workout equipment is so popular.


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