The 5 Best Rowing Machines [Ranked]
A rowing machine is a style of indoor exercise machine that mimics the feel of rowing a watercraft. They can be a great solution for muscle toning, weight loss, enhancing cardiovascular stamina, targeting both upper and lower sections of the body (Source).
They are popular home workout solutions because they are generally compact and portable- though the high-end fluid-rowers need lots of dedicated floor space (Source).
There are four primary types of rowing machine on the market. They're differentiated by the resistance mechanism they employ (Source) and how closely they emulate the experience of actual water rowing.
The difference is that, while the air and water style adjust resistance with each pull, emulating the feel of actually rowing, the hydraulic and magnetic styles don't have this type of adaptive resistance. You will set resistance levels and row against that setting, as opposed to feeling more resistance the harder you row (Source).
The bottom line is that if you want a top quality rowing experience that emulates rowing on water and price isn't a consideration, the air resistance style Concept2 is a great buy. The Concept2 also combines with proprietary software and smartphone apps- you can read about the different options on their site.
If you just want a workout with a compact piece of equipment at a low price and don't really care about the 'feel' of rowing, check out a hydraulic resistance style rowing machine like the Stamina Body Trac Glider.
The 4 Types Of Rowing Machines
Air Rowing Machines: the resistance is produced from air that flows over an internal flywheel. This is one of the more popular styles of indoor rowing machines because the air flow resistance adapts to your stroke as opposed to magnetic rowing machines.
They generally have really smooth actions that replciate the feel of actual water rowing, producing little wear on the machine over time, though they tend to be louder than other options (Source).
How To Use An Air Rower
Magnetic Rowing Machines: work by adjusting the distance between magnets and the spinning flywheel that is chained to the handle Generally, you'll be able to adjust the resistance using either a digital display or by manipulating mechanical sliders.
They provide an even stroke- unlike air and water that adjust resistance with the strength of your pull. These are very quiet options and are commonly the most compact for portability and storage (Source).
How To Use A Magnetic Rower
Water (Fluid) Rowing Machines: use paddles and water to generate resistance. The way they work, a water paddle (flywheel) sits in a tank of water that is connected to a chained handle revolves the handle against the water, providing resistance.
So, the faster you row, the more resistance you get. These tend to be quieter than air rowers, but also are more expensive and larger. Though, they tend to last a long time because of their simple designs (Source).
How To Use A Water Rower
How To Use A Hydraulic Rower
Rowing Machines Compared
|View Jet.com Prices||Rowing Machines||Our Rating||Price ($)|
|The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower||4.3||$$|
|The Stamina Body Trac Glider Hydraulic Rowing Machine||4.0||$|
|The Concept2 Air Rowing Machine||4.9||$$$|
|The Sunny Health & Fitness Hydraulic Rowing Machine||4.2||$|
|The Stamina ATS Air Rower||4.3||$$|