The No-Fuss Rowing Machine Buying Guide

Thanks to an impressive amount of recent research into the effectiveness of different types of exercise and the current obsession with fitness, you’ve probably heard about the power of rowing machines. Not only do they strengthen all the major muscle groups, they also provide an excellent cardio workout and are regularly recommended as part of an exercise routine. If you can only afford one exercise machine a rowing machine is probably the†best investment you can make in a piece of cardio equipment.

What to look for in a rowing machine

Like any exercise machine, there are a great many models of rowing machine available and they vary dramatically in quality and prices. There are also a few different types of resistance used by rowing machines which produce different effects. Make sure you pay attention to all of the following factors when buying your rowing machine:

  1. Size

Size matters for a couple different reasons. The most obvious is that many people only have a limited of room to put their rowing machine in. Some of the most realistic and comfortable rowing machines take up a huge amount of room while others can even be folded partially to fit more comfortably in your apartment when they aren’t in use.

The other reason why size is so important is comfort. Tall users will need a rowing machine with a longer seat rail and might even need a seat that’s lower off the ground. Short users will need a machine with a shorter seat rail. Rowing machines also all have different maximum weight loads so how much you weigh may have an impact on what machines you’re able to buy.

  1. Construction

You should be able to easily clean and adjust the seat of your rowing machine. Handlebars should also be adjustable to improve comfort. A rowing machine should also have a sturdy frame using high quality metal. Poor construction can lead to injury and the machine breaking down mid-workout.

A well-constructed rowing machine can be a lifetime investment if you take the time to maintain it properlyóand many of the best rowing machines require only a small amount of maintenance.

  1. Resistance

With rowing machines there are two big factors to resistance: how many levels there are and what type of resistance the machine actually uses.

Resistance levels are designed to challenge users at different fitness levels. If you plan to simply lose a little bit of weight and maintain a healthier body weight a machine with only a few resistance levels might be fine, but if you plan to train seriouslyóor if you will be sharing the machine with family members at different fitness levelsóyou want a machine with the highest number of resistance levels possible.

As for the types of resistance, there are three different types of resistance used by rowing machines:

  • Air

Many of the most popular rowing machines use air resistance. Air resistance utilizes a combination of the rowing machine’s own fan and your inertia/strength. You can typically adjust the resistance level on these machines simply by rowing faster, which is great for building up a workout to an intense point. Usually air rowing machines provide a fairly consistent simulation of rowing on actual water.

The only disadvantage of air resistance is that these machines are usually much louder than their counterparts. If you’re willing to invest some extra money into the machine you will be able to get a quieter one, but these are still rarely as quiet as machines that use other forms of resistance.

  • Magnetic

A magnetic rowing machine uses a set of adjustable magnets to create resistance. You adjust the resistance by moving the damper lever, usually found on the side of the flywheel. These machines are often cheaper and quieter but can sometimes sacrifice the realistic simulation of rowing over water, making it essential to stick with the higher end machines.

  • Hydraulic

These machines actually use water to simulate the sensation of actually rowing on a lake or river as closely as possible. There are smaller units and these tend to be cheap and easy to store, but you can also purchase some serious luxury hydraulic machines. Made with wooden frames, luxury hydraulic rowing machines are the closest experience you will get to rowing on water, but they don’t come with many of the tech features commonly found on machines that use other forms of resistance.

  1. Price

There are rowing machines at pretty much every price point imaginable starting in $200s and going all the way up to the mid $2000s but a high quality machine that will last a semi-serious athlete for many years typically costs $600-900. Most machines above that price range don’t really have the extra features to justify the extra money and anything below it will likely be made of substandard materials that will only last a year or two with regular use.

If you are looking for better informations on the subject read our article on the 5 Best Rowing machines.

  1. Warranty

Most rowing machines come with a warranty of at least one year including parts and labor with many offering a limited warranty for an extended period of time. Higher quality rowing machines may give you a two or three year warranty. You’ll be hard pressed to get a warranty longer than three years on any rowing machine.

Are combination exercise machines worth it?

Some rowing machines double as exercise bikes or other types of exercise machines but they typically don’t function as well as either machine would separately and they’re definitely not the extra money if you aren’t 100% sure you’ll use both features. Even if you will use both features you are usually better off buying both machines separately and just waiting between purchases because the separate machines will almost always work better.

Remember to read as many reviews of any given rowing machine as possible before you make a purchase. If possible you should also go to your local equipment store and try out different rowing machines to figure out what you like. A good rowing machine is a significant investment and you want to make sure you’ve chosen the correct one for your needs.


Author Bio:

Stacey Sanders is a mother of three daughters aged four, six and eight. She’s†a qualified personal trainer†with a passion for†exercise and fitness, raising healthy children and natural and alternative remedies. When she’s not working out or looking after her children you can find her blogging at

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