Rowing Machines

Rowing Machine Buyers Guide

One of the best things you can do for your body and health is to get your heart rate pumping through cardio exercise. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges for someone trying to get fit is picking the type of cardio that will benefit them the most. While each person has different needs and goals, adding a consistent cardio session to a work out plan can help pretty much everyone. The most common types of cardio machines we see are Treadmills, Bikes, Elliptical Machines, and Rowing Machines. Each machine has its own benefits, and you can find the discussion of the pros and cons of them here.

In recent years, the Indoor Rowing Machine has become recognized as one of the most effective full body exercises you can do. It provides amazing cardiovascular exercise, while engaging your upper body, lower body, and core when the exercise is done properly. Technique video

Now if you want to get one of these great tools for your home gym, you will have a few questions.

Important considerations when choosing a Rowing Machine

1. Price – Top of the line or Budget Conscious?

2. Size – Will it fit you? Can you store it when not using?

3. Brand Reputation – How will the machine hold up?

4. Noise – Will you drive your neighbors crazy?

5. Comfort – Look for one with a good seat and foot rests

6. Resistance Style – Air, Water, Magnetic, or Hydraulic

Rowing Model





WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine in Black Walnut with S4 Monitor

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Stamina 1399 ATS Air Rowing Machine

LifeCore LCR100

Let’s talk Price

If money is not a factor in your decision, I will just say well done, and point you to the most famous Rower on the Market

This rower is not only a great choice for performance, but you can work out, and plan to take over the government like Frank and Claire Underwood from House of Cards.

For the vast majority of us that are shopping for workout equipment, we want the best combination of quality and value. There will be a wide spectrum of terrific machines to choose from here, from low cost Hydraulic machines, to very good water, magnetic, and air resistance machines.

Size Matters

Rowing machines typically are around 7-8 feet long and about 2 feet wide. Most of them can be folded up or separated into a couple of pieces for easy storage. Your best bet will be to find a space that you can dedicate to working out so your machine is ready for you when you have the time. Out of sight equals out of mind, and won’t get you to the health goals you want to achieve. Also, if you are on the large size, either weight or height, you will want to make sure the machine is right for you. Most that we have seen can support at least 250 lbs, but a few are recommended only for lower weights.

Reputation and Reliability

When looking for a new piece of exercise equipment, you are very likely to come across brands that you have never heard of before. Some companies make multiple types of equipment, so you have a better chance of recognizing the name, but many are very specialized and will be new to you. Name recognition should not be the main factor in deciding on a piece of expensive equipment. The company that focuses on one piece of equipment may just be the very best and possibly the recognizable one could be less good overall.

Noisy, Noisy, Noisy

If you are like me, you work out with earbuds in, music pumping to keep your energy high, and you don’t really pay attention to the sounds of the gym around you. Your neighbors, or family members, on the other hand would really appreciate you taking a minute to consider the various noise levels put out by different types of rowers. Generally, Magnetic Rowers make the least amount of noise, and can be great options for dense living environments or homes with small sleeping children (don’t wake them!).

Sit back and Relax (not really, get to work!)

How the machine feels and performs for you may be the most important factor in getting you to come back and make the workout a habit. You will want to find a machine with quality materials in the seat, handles, and foot pads, since those are the part you will physically interact with every workout.

The Four Elements of Resistance

Air, Water, Earth, and Fire are the traditional elements of our physical world, and almost perfectly represented in the styles of Rowers you can choose (with some latitude given to Earth and Fire).

Air Resistance – These use fan-like fins and rely on the resistance created by the air to get your workout. The faster the wheel spins the higher the resistance. It’s fairly easy to find a good rhythm and maintain that level. As you can probably imagine, the sound put off from these machines can be a bit louder than some other options.

Water Resistance – The look and sound of water while you row can be very appealing. Although many feel the top Air Resistance models mimic the feel of rowing even better than water ones. Changing up the resistance can mean adding or removing the amount of water in the tank, so maybe take that into consideration if people of drastically different strength levels will use the same rower.

Magnetic Resistance – Typically the quietest option and it provides a consistent level of resistance. Many models have computer controlled resistance so are great for multiple users as each person can dial in their personal resistance level.

Hydraulic Resistance – Often the cheapest and smallest option. There is generally a hydraulic piston with handles on each side of the seat which create the resistance. It is more difficult to get a full body rowing experience with this type, and the hydraulics may become heated through use, and wear down quicker than other types.

Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a rowing machine for your home, you can’t go wrong with any of the ones listed above.  While you could certainly find a cheaper option, I believe exercise equipment to be a “you get what you pay for” kind of product.  Go for quality and check out the reviews of others if you still need help making that buying decision.  Good luck in your exercise journey!


Hi there! My name is Ben and I am the creator and editor of this site. I am on my own personal journey towards health and wellness, and want this website to be a place to share the best information possible to help others on their own path to wellness.

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