Types Of Rowing Machines On The Market

Finding a suitable rowing machine for fitness can be a challenging task. However, you can find the most suitable rowing machine to provide the best full-body workout to help you burn more calories based on resistance type.

Rowing machines fall into four categories of resistance mechanisms: air, magnetic, water/fluid, and hydraulic. These machines operate differently operational and provide unique experiences, although they ultimately help you achieve similar goals. Whether you need a rower for fitness, weight loss, or competition, there is something for you in the market.

Determining the resistance type of rowing machine you like best should be the first step in finding the perfect fit. Read on as we discuss the different types of rowers, their pros and cons, and who they are best suited for.

Why Do You Need a Rowing Machine?

Rowing machines have numerous benefits. Getting in shape does not mean starting a running regime or hitting the mountain for strenuous activities. You can improve your overall health if you make good use of a rowing machine. Suitable for every age and fitness level, the exercises are usually low impact. Rowing machines mimic a rowing boat’s motion in the water, so you can expect to do a full-body workout. They help to improve posture and tone the lower body on the table. Rowing machines are also great for weight loss, building muscles, and enhancing stamina.

Every type of resistance provides you with a unique rowing experience that may be linked to specific attributes of the equipment. The features differ in terms of the noise level, size, and storage capabilities. As a user, you can match some characteristics to a particular rowing machine resistance type. After figuring out your ideal resistance, your search for the best ergometer should be much easier. Then you can rule out options that do not match your fitness goals. Below are some of the most common types of rowing machines, depending on the resistance level.

Air Rowing Machines

An air rowing machine works pretty much like rowing outside on the water. Here, resistance emanates from the pulling motion that you apply while working out. The movement spins the flywheel sporting fan blades, creating resistance through the wind resulting from your action.

Increasing the resistance of an air rower while working out requires you to pull harder. Pulling harder makes your movement turn the flywheel faster, producing greater force from the wind generated by the fan blade on the rower.

With an air rower, you can slow down or rev up the speed in the middle of the session without pressing any button. The air rower’s resistance adjusts accordingly. This makes these machines quite popular for HIIT and CrossFit workouts. The rowers allow you to work out intensely for a single set and slow down in the next without adjusting the settings. The machine has a long seat trail which contributes to its large footprint. This is essential to users as it provides a smooth rowing motion.

Many air rowers contain a folding mechanism and transport wheels to make stowing away relatively easy. What’s more, these ergs are not as costly as water resistance rowers. The price depends on the type of model. You will get a perfect air rower without overstretching your budget.

On the flip side, air rowers generate some noise when the flywheel is working with the force of air and your ability to pull. Therefore, if you are mindful of your family members, they may not be the best. Behold a summary of their pros and cons.

• Air rowers are suitable for nearly every fitness level, including top athletes for training to beginners who buy for home use.
• You have the power to dictate and set your preferred resistance level depending on how fast and hard you row. The machine also has damper settings to make your rowing action hard or easy according to your chosen level.
• Air rowers have a smooth stroke action.
• Using your air rower causes very little damage; thus, they can serve you for a long time with proper maintenance.

• The air mechanism is quite noisy and might be a problem if you share a relatively small living space with other family members.

Magnetic Rowers

Magnetic rowers facilitate smooth activity, like their air rowing counterparts, while allowing for a solid and powerful stroke. They offer a natural feel reminiscent of rowing on the water. The price depends on the model type, brand, and additional features. A magnetic rower is extremely quiet and offers a variety of preprogrammed workouts in the performance monitor.

Although magnetic rowers come in different types, brands, and levels of quality, they all work based on one principle. Although the adjustments may differ from machine to machine, magnetic rowers move a magnet closer and farther away from the metal flywheel. The motion causes the release of eddy currents while interacting with the flywheel to slow it down.

After moving a magnet closer to the flywheel, the currents will make the rower slow down hence creating more resistance. When the magnet moves farther away from the flywheel, the reduced resistance makes it easy for you to make a row. Depending on the machine’s setup, you may change the resistance level by turning a dial to a different setting or pressing a relevant button on the monitor.

Some magnetic rowers have a basic design, while others come with sophisticated features. Many have a pre-set workout program for you, along with some games and data points. If you’re looking for home workout equipment for the first time, a magnetic rower is a good choice, even when you’re on a budget.


• They are the quietest of all rowers, even at a high resistance level. Therefore, they are perfect for shared living spaces where household members prefer to keep noise levels low.
• They have a broad range of resistance levels, including more challenging workouts.
• Low maintenance requirements


• All strokes are similar regardless of your pulling strength. You must adjust the resistance manually by pressing a button or knob.

Water Rowers

Instead of using air, a water rowing machine uses paddles suspended in a water tank to create resistance. When pulling the rower’s handles, the paddles rotate in the water, producing resistance that feels very similar to boat rowing. The harder you pull, the faster it spins, and consequently, the higher the resistance. So you may adjust the resistance level by changing the speed with which you pull the handle.

Additionally, you can fine-tune the rowing experience by changing the volume of water in the tank. The workout gets more intense if you add water, just like paddling a boat full of passengers. Less water makes rowing lighter as if you are rowing a boat by yourself.

A water rower usually has a large footprint and is much heavier because of the water tank. Moreover, they are noisier, although you may feel as if the water is soothing and relaxing. Another drawback is a higher price tag.

The wooden rowing machines are suitable for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing design. They look great in a living room, and some types of wood may suit your furnishings.


• An attractive wood frame that absorbs vibrations
• Ergonomic seat
• The water whooshing effect can be very calming and soothing
• Excellent full-body benefits


• The footrests are not adjustable
• Small monitor

Hydraulic Rowers

If you’re looking to build your upper-body strength, then a hydraulic rowing machine is your go-to option. This is because the device does little in engaging the legs. So, it may not give much of a full-body workout like you would get from other rowers.

While it is incredibly affordable, you’ll be sacrificing various features if you opt for a hydraulic machine. The machine is also compact and foldable hence reducing the amount of space needed for storage.

Hydraulic machines allow you to change the amount of tension to get your workout right. The hydraulic has two pistons on either side of the rowing handles. The pistons get pumped up once the rowing starts.

One downside of buying the hydraulic rower is that it’s hard to move your body naturally. You must be in an exercise position rather than a natural position that you would assume when rowing an actual boat.


• Available at a low price due to simple design and mechanism
• They are relatively compact, hence suitable for apartment dwellers or those living in a small space
• They are virtually silent

• Not possible to change the resistance during an exercise
• Only good for cardio and muscle toning but not a quality gym machine

Benefits of Using Rowing Machines

Total Body Workout

Rowing machines not only work out the arms; they offer a full-body workout that uses about 86 percent of your muscles. Some of the significant parts targeted by the exercise include the upper back, pecs, arms, abdominal muscles, and obliques. Rowing also strengthens the quadriceps, calves, and glutes.

Low Impact Workout

You will burn plenty of calories rowing without putting additional stress on the joints. The workout allows you to control your movement and pace, making it an excellent exercise for active recovery. Such training is recommended for people who are in the early stages of osteoarthritis.

It’s Meditative

Rowing provides a mind and body connection. You can achieve the most calming benefits rowing indoors after a smooth and gliding motion created on the ergometer. The repetitive movement allows your mind to go on autopilot. The workout will also release endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which reduce stress.

Good for Cardiovascular Health

Since rowing is a cardio exercise, it helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system, including the heart and blood vessels. The cardiovascular system works tirelessly to transport essential elements such as nutrients and oxygen in your body. While rowing, the heart works harder to transport blood throughout the body, which improves heart strength. If you are at risk of heart problems, rowing could be beneficial.

Improves Posture

If you sit on your desk all day, you may benefit from rowing. Women have weaker upper bodies, which means that their posture could be worse as a result. Rowing correctly without slouching and over-compressing requires you to stay upright while pulling. The practice eventually corrects your posture.


A rowing machine allows you to do multiple workouts at a go. You can do lots of miles at a low intensity to build your aerobic capacity. You may add in some high-intensity bursts if need be. Therefore, rowing machines are suitable for athletes.


Working out on a rowing machine offers numerous benefits. Apart from improving posture, the exercise also tones the body, is good for the heart, has some meditative purposes, among many other benefits. Whether you purchase your own rowing machine or join a gym to enjoy some of its benefits, rowing will keep you healthy and active.

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