A rowing machine is a piece of exercise equipment that imitates the motion of rowing a boat in the water. This machine is considered as a fitness game changer due to the fact that it has the capability to not only tone and build muscles but also increase stamina and help everyone lose weight in less than no time. In addition to its ability to provide a serious aerobic workout, the best rowing machine is likewise capable of helping everyone keep their lungs nice and healthy.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of using an indoor rower is that you get a total body workout. In other words, rowing will help you work on all of your body’s major muscle groups. Put simply, it is one of those exercises which work on your upper and lower body muscles simultaneously. Every home gym is better when you add an indoor rower to the room.
By the same token, a rowing machine also provides a far superior resistance compared to cycling. In fact, the uninterrupted push and pull motion of rowing are responsible for providing resistance in not one, but two directions. On top of that, a rowing machine is low-impact in nature which indicates that it can be utilized by people who are suffering from joint problems as well as elderly individuals.
What Muscle Groups Are They Good For?
1. Lower Body Muscles
A rowing machine is perfect for strengthening the lower body muscles. As a matter of fact, professional rowers consider rowing as a lower-body workout. Normally, a rowing machine will help build the quads in the upper front of the thighs, the calves, and glutes. Developing strong glutes and legs will help anyone look incredible and working out the muscles found in the lower body burns calories at a quicker pace. Furthermore, it also provides added muscle tone and strength as well as balance and flexibility to your body.
2. Upper Body Muscles
Rowing machines are responsible for providing a sublime workout on the upper body. With rowing machines, everyone can exercise their lats in the mid-back, the trapeze in the upper back and the rhomboids in the shoulders. Among the perks of having stronger shoulder and back muscles include reduction in back pain and improved posture.
Apart from developing one’s backside, rowing machines are also essential in exercising the pecs, abs, and biceps, which help create a tougher core. They also help develop stronger wrists and hands since using the machine requires a firm grip on the handles when performing a workout.
3. Cardiovascular Muscles
High-impact workouts bring more troubles than benefits, especially for those who have recurring joint problems and are overweight. Alternatively, a rowing machine is quintessential for those who cannot execute weight-bearing activities such as walking, hiking, yoga, and running. It is recommended for injury-prevention since a rowing machine is excellent in conditioning and strengthening the body after surgeries. Even though back strain might create a little cause for concern, anyone can easily reduce the possibility of this occurring by simply employing the correct rowing form. It also puts minimal stress on the joins since the motion of rowing is low impact and employs natural movements.
Types of Rowing Machine
Rowing machines come in various shapes and designs. Ordinarily, rowing machines are divided depending on the resistance mechanism that is used. Among the most popular rowing machines that are available in the market today include air rowing machines, water rowers, magnetic rowing machines and hydraulic rowing machines.
· Air Rowing Machines
Air rowing machines are most often preferred by professional rowing competitors for out-of-season training since it closely imitates the motion of rowing in the water. Likewise, an air rower also provides smooth action since air resistance can automatically adjust to your stroke rate. Other than that, the mechanism of air rowing machines seldom experiences wear and tear. It is, however, essential to note that using this indoors could create a loud noise.
· Water Rowers
Unlike air rowing machines, water rowers are often considered as newer innovation in rowing machine technology. It utilizes water to build resistance and a water flywheel that is linked to a chain and handles. In addition, it also minimizes the noise when rowing and can help anyone create smooth and consistent resistance through a stroke. Above all, water resistance rowers require very little maintenance, which consists of simply changing the water occasionally. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that these types of water resistance rowing machines tend to be larger and come at the high-end with a higher price point.
· Magnetic Rowing Machines
Magnetic rowers are considered as one of the most popular types of rowing machines. Its resistance mechanism makes them the quietest of all types. Typically, this type of machine operates by varying the distance between a spinning flywheel and strong magnets. Magnetic rowing machines are usually smaller than air and water rowers but it has a wide range of resistance levels.
· Hydraulic Rowers
Hydraulic rowing machines are smaller and quieter compared to flywheel rowers. Hydraulic resistance rowers also come in at a much lower price range compared to other machines. It is, however, imperative to take note that hydraulic rowers require regular maintenance and do not provide smooth rowing action compared to the ones mentioned above. In addition, its resistance levels also tend to change as the oil heats up inside the hydraulic cylinder.
Tips for Choosing The Best Rowing Machine
Choosing the best rowing machine for your rowing workout can be tricky. Each rowing machine is built to provide an excellent level of comfort based upon the desired target objectives. Here are certain features to consider in selecting the right rowing machine for your rowing workout.
Resistance is perhaps one of the most essential features to examine when choosing the best rowing machine. In most cases, a rowing machine is either built with air-driven resistance or magnetically-driven resistance. A rowing machine that is driven with a magnetic resistance is typically the quietest and the easiest to use. This is most excellent for rowing enthusiasts who want to work out without waking or disturbing their children and neighbors.
Rowing machines with air-driven resistance, on the other hand, is advantageous in gradually increasing the level of difficulty of each exercise since it has an infinite number of resistance settings. It can also regulate the amount of air that is entering the person’s pneumatic chamber. In short, the harder someone pulls, the more superior the amount of resistance.
2. The Pull System
Rowing machines also vary depending on their pull system. Pull systems are classified into two different systems which provide two distinctive ways of rowing and their own set of objectives.
The Scandinavian or Latin pull system is most ideal for those who are looking for a responsiveness that is as close to emulating actual rowing as possible. Ideally, this pull system enables one to work out his or her entire back. It is, however, important to take into the account that the correct motion needs outstanding coordination and is reasonably challenging to master.
Another type of a pull system that is commonly found in on rowing machines is the central pull. The primary benefit of the central pull system is its ability to provide a very fluid movement and symmetric pull. This is most excellent for anyone who is trying to position their body correctly for a workout that is not only comfortable but also effective.
3. The Console
Consoles are also another feature that should be considered in picking the best rowing machine. Most consoles will provide essential information, such as the average calories burned, distance traveled, speed, and the duration of the workout. It is best to look for models that can also provide an accurate heart rate monitor reading and built-in training programs. This rule goes not just for rowing machines, but exercise bikes and elliptical cross trainer consoles too. In fact, any fitness equipment where you could benefit from knowing your work rate, duration and heart rate. Most consoles come in the form of an LCD monitor, but there are other types out there too, such as the s4 monitor which is noteworthy.
A rower can soon become uncomfortable over time with all the repetitive rowing motion. As such, a comfortable seat is something to consider. A padded seat is a great relief if you plan to spend a good amount of time on your rowing machine
Ok, let’s take a look at our top picks now that you know the things to keep in mind when shopping for the best rowing machine.
The 10 Best Rowing Machine Reviews
Amazon Rating: 4.1
The Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of the most affordable rowing equipment options on the market today. It features a large LCD console which displays the count, time and the number of calories burned. In addition to that, it also has foam grip handlebars and textured non-slip foot pedals that will ensure comfort in vigorous workouts.
- Minimal noise level and machine footprint
- Great for muscle building and weight loss
- More cost-efficient than gym equipment and machines
- Monitor is relatively tiny
- Doesn’t track the distance you’ve rowed
- Does not have a virtual 3D glasses option
Amazon Rating: 3.9
The Obsidian SF-RW5713 is another classic rowing machine by Sunny Health & Fitness. It is designed with 16 hydro blades which imitate the progressive movements of competitive rowing. In addition, it also comes with an R2 Fitness Meter which is built to effectively monitor all important workout metrics such as total strokes, total time, calories, ambient temperature and SPM.
- Minimal water drive noise
- Easy to use and assemble
- Resistance can easily be adjusted by adding less or more water
- Left foot pedal tends to loosen up after moderate use
- Length might be a problem for someone who is taller than 6’5.
Amazon Rating: 4.9
The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine designed by Concept2 provides a low-impact workout that engages all major muscle groups. It exhibits a 14-inch seat height, an ergonomic handle, an adjustable footrest, and monitor which tracks real-time progress. It can easily be disassembled and is mobile thanks to its caster wheels which allow anyone to move their equipment from one place to another. Also keep your eye out for the Concept2 model E.
- Provides a cardiovascular and full-body workout
- USB compatible
- Includes a two-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee
- Seat may irritate the tailbone
- The wheels won’t work well when moving around a carpet
Amazon Rating: 3.4
This Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine is designed with eight preset levels that can be easily customized to fit a specific target workout zone. In addition, it is also built with an ergonomic design that has a multi-angle monitor which provides relevant workout information. On top of everything else, it is compact and fold-able which allows you to store it conveniently.
- Easy to assemble
- Takes slightly less space compared to other models
- Machine is very sturdy and can handle someone who is 300 lbs
- The screen does not work as a touch screen and can only be operated using one button
- Resistance is not as high as other models
Amazon Rating: 4.2
The Magnetic Rowing Machine developed by Goplus primarily makes use of a magnetic tension system with eight adjustable levels of resistance to suit people exercising in different degrees of intensity. It is also powered with a large LCD monitor screen which clearly displays the scan, time, calories burned, counts per minute and the total count. In addition, it is likewise built with wheels that allow anyone to easily move and transport the item.
- Display screen is simple to use
- Can be assembled easily and hardly takes up any room
- Less superior compared to gym-quality rowers
- Not strong enough for leg workouts
- Velcro straps are made of poor quality
Amazon Rating: 5.0
The Vintage Oak Rowing Machine is built with a handcrafted water flywheel that replicates the performance of actual rowing. It is also beefed up with a Series 4 performance monitor that efficiently tracks the heart and stroke rates and workout intensity.
- Perfect for users with joint problems
- Noise is incredibly low
- Requires little maintenance
- Monitor lacks a few workout metrics
Amazon Rating: 4.6
The Goplus Water Rowing Machine Indoor Water Rower is built using sturdy steel that has the durability to support up to 220 lbs. It also exhibits a large exercise monitor which tracks the distance, count per minute, time, and calories. Moreover, this rowing machine also boasts a PU seat and adjustable texture pedals which can fit a wide range of foot sizes.
- Workout data can easily be downloaded on a phone
- Easy to install and great for a full-body workout
- Comes in a big heavy box
- Installation instructions are incomplete and unclear
Amazon Rating: 4.0
The R30 Cardio Fit Series Rower by Tunturi is most recommended for beginners and casual users since it provides controls that are easy to maneuver. Additionally, it is also constructed with eight resistance levels that can easily be modified depending on your workout.
- Can be folded and easily stored anywhere
- Adjustable seat distance
- Installation can take an hour or so
- Some parts such as the pedals are made of cheap materials.
Amazon Rating: 4.7
The Fitness Indoor Water Rower by First Degree features top-notch construction and a patented twin-tank design that has a triple blade to avoid dead spots. It is brimming with features, such as a multi-level monitor that displays time, heart rate, strokes per minute and calories per hour.
- Five-year manufacturer warranty on frame, three years on non-wearing mechanical components, and two years and other parts
- Can be stored upright when not in use
- Not compatible with devices running Windows 7 and Windows 8
- Water sloshing creates a loud noise
Amazon Rating: 5.0
The RW036 model from EFITMENT is designed with a 51-8 inch steel slide rail that has a maximum capacity of 245lbs. In addition, it also comes with a performance workout that allows anyone to not only track important metrics, but also visualize their entire workout experience. It is likewise powered by a fan resistance that can be activated using a maintenance-free belt-drive mechanism.
- Can be transported from room to room with its transportation wheels
- Can be folded upright to save space before and after use
- Makes noises from the air flow