Top 5 Best Rowing Machines Comparison Table
|1. V-Fit Tornado Air Rower||2. Sportplus Indoor |
|3. Viavito Sumi Folding |
|4. JLL R200 Luxury |
Home Rowing Machine
|5. Marcy RM413
Henley Magnetic Foldable
|Average Cutomer Rating||(4 / 5)||(4.4 / 5)||(4 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)|
|Type of Resistance||Air Resistance||Magnetic Resistance - 8kg |
|Magnetic Resistance - 7kg |
|Magnetic Resistance||Magnetic Resistance - 4kg Flywheel|
|Max User Weight||115kg||150kg||120kg||100kg||110kg|
|Foldable and Dimensions||Yes - N/A||Yes|
80 cm x 50 cm x 130 cm
74 cm x 53 cm x 119 cm
|Yes - N/A||Yes
93 cm x 56 cm x 150 cm
|Console Features||Strokes Per Minute, |
Distance, Calories, Time,
Speed and Total Strokes
|Cardiofit app on Apple and |
Android - Use your
|Strokes Per Minute, |
Calories, Time, Distance
|Strokes Per Minute, |
Calorie, Time, Speed
|Strokes Per Minute,
Calories, Time, Speed
|Dimensions L x W x H||212 cm x 44 cm x 74 cm||179 cm x 51 cm x 72 cm||178 cm x 53 cm x 48 cm||180 x 52 x 49 cm||183 cm x 56 cm x 78 cm|
|Machine Weight||23.4kg||28kg||26.1kg||23 Kg||26.5kg|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year||2 years|
|Final Word||Best for all fitness levels||Workout history via app - |
Good for all fitness levels
|Overall best value for |
|Top seller||World wide recognised
|Check Price||>>Check Price<<||>>Check Price<<||>>Check Price<<||>>Check Price<<||>>Check Price<<|
Rowing machines are made to mimic real life boat rowing. This is achieved, not by mimicking the experience of rowing a boat but the health benefits you receive when doing so. So in actual practice when exercising on a rowing machine, it doesn’t quite feel as if you are rowing in water. None the less rowing machines are very popular in gyms and for home use. Why?
The cardiovascular benefits combined with muscle endurance you can attain are what attracts us to use these simple yet effective machines. But before buying a rowing machine think to yourself what is important to you:
Your Fitness Level
Your current fitness level is ultimately going to help you decide on what you need, but remember you have to think medium to long term. You do not want a rower that is perfect when starting out as a novice and then later becoming inadequate as your fitness improves.
Think about the fitness level you are at now and what you want to be able to achieve in the near future. Is the rowing machine capable of changing difficulty/resistance levels? Think to yourself how you will track progression. This could mean tracking calories burned or it could even mean the distance you have done on the rower. Whatever you decide ensure you are fully equipped on what is needed to help you keep track and improve your fitness.
Noise an Issue?
When it comes to working on your fitness, noise level should not be something to think about. Then again if you have young children it can be quite noisy. If you plan to row at night this may be problematic for your neighbours or members sleeping in the household. So it is useful to know which rowing machines are loud and which ones are quiet.
Flooring at Home
What type of flooring do you have at home? If you have carpet and you are happy to have the odd indentation on the carpet go ahead. For those with wooden floorboards you might want to check that the machine does not leave any damage to the floorboards. It isn’t the weight the machine you need to worry about but the weight and force the entire machine will create when you are working out.
You may have to look into the overall structure of your home such as your ceiling, walls etc. If you are worried about potential structural damage then get a surveyor to have a look. This is only for the heavier models that you find in commercial gyms, which are very costly.
The good news is, that most home rowing machines you need not to worry about damaging your home. Most weigh no more than 30kg and even combined with your weight will not cause damage. If in doubt get a professional in.
Our suggestion is to buy a sturdy Fitness equipment mat to place below the machine which will prevent damage arising and will reduce noise levels.
Types of Rowing Machine Resistance
There are typically 4 types of resistance that you will find in today’s rowing machines. Below you will see the differences including the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.
Air Resistance Rowing Machine
The most popular rowing machine type is undoubtedly the air rowers, which dates back to the mid 1980’s. Also known as ergometers or even flywheel rowing machines.
How Do Air Resistance Rowing Work?
The resistance of an air rower comes from the internal flywheel. The flywheel is connected by a chain that is attached to the rowing handle. When the handle is pulled this then activates movement from the flywheel which goes against the air. The harder the you pull the stronger the resistance from the flywheel.
This is very similar to actual rowing in terms of resistance which is why it is the most popular machine among the other resistance types.
Advantages of Air Resistance Rowing Machines
- Varied resistances – the harder you row, the stronger the resistance
- Smooth stroke
- Very affordable
- Can implement Tabata or HIT training
Disadvantages of Air Rowers
- Can be noisy for indoor home use
Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine
Magnetic rowers are extremely popular especially for use at home and tjey by far the most quiet of all rowing machine types.
How Do Magnetic Rowing Machines Work?
The resistance of magnetic rowers are generated by a flywheel and a strong magnetic braking system. Resistance levels can be adjusted using a digital console or sometimes by a mechanical slider. The closer the magnet is to the flywheel the stronger the resistance.
Advantages of Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
- Most quiet rowing machine type (some are virtually silent)
- Wider range of resistance
- Very low maintenance required
Disadvantages of Magnet Rowers
- Do not replicate actual boat rowing (still works the same muscles and your cardio)
Water or Fluid Resistance
Water rowers are now becoming much more popular and are also available in gyms all over the country.
How Do Water Rowing Machines Work?
Water rowers are almost identical to an air rower. They also have an internal flywheel which is attached to paddles suspended in a tank of water. So the harder one rows the stronger the resistance created by the water going against the paddles.
Advantages of Water Resistance Rowing Machines
- Relatively quiet
- Smooth strokes and consistent resistance throughout
- Little maintenance (occasionally need to change water)
- Additional resistance if you add more water into the tank
- Can implement Tabata or HIT training
Disadvantages of Water Rowers
- More costly than other types
- Usually larger than other rowing machine types
Hydraulic Rowing Machine
Hydraulic rowing machines were the first type of indoor rower invented. The first hydraulic rower was made in 1872 and was very popular in the 1900’s. At present hydraulic rowing machines no longer exist in commercial gyms, but they are available to buy for home use. I believe it is safe to say that their days are coming to an end, due to improved rowing quality on the other rowing machine types.
How Do Hydraulic Rowing Machines Work?
Resistance is created by pulling against the fluid or air that is compressed in the pistons. The level of resistance can be altered by adjusting the clamps.
Advantages of Hydraulic Resistance Rowing Machines
- Smaller than other rowers
- Quieter than air rowers
- Lower in price
Disadvantages of Hydraulic Rowers
- Rowing motion is not as smooth as other rowers
- Resistance levels can change over time due to oil drying up
- Needs regular maintenance
Health Benefit of Rowing
The health benefits of rowing compared to any other aerobic type of exercises are the similar but more. Running and cycling for example are great exercises for your overall aerobic fitness. However they neglect your upper body, which is why you see runners and cyclist with well-built legs but a small upper body. Rowing in water or using a rowing machine on the other hand works your upper body as well as your legs. Another great health benefit of rowing is losing body fat and if done correctly it can help you build muscle too.
Rowing actually works approximately 84% of your entire muscles in your body. It all depends on the individual which muscles they recruit more. For example I have seen both athletes rowing where one recruits more upper body and the other recruits more lower body. Generally speaking, when one part of your body is more dominant then this is the part that takes the brute of the work. So if your legs are stronger then you will find that they will be doing most of the pushing.
Here are all the muscles worked when rowing:
Deltoids (shoulders), biceps, triceps, forearms, abdominals, obliques, trapezius (upper back), erector spinae (lower back), latissimus dorsi (lat), gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.
Muscles Worked In One Stroke Of Rowing
Muscles highlighted in red are muscles directly working and muscles highlighted in yellow are muscles in a relaxed state or stretched.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Rowing
Rowing gets your heart pumping which great just like other aerobic exercises. As personal trainer I like using the rowing machine for myself and clients to really push themselves. There comes a time when regular cardio exercise doesn’t challenge you anymore. So using a treadmill for instance, to make new gains one will have to increase time duration or speed level. But bear in mind this could mean you running on the treadmill for hours.
It also very important to note that exercising for long durations will cause muscle atrophy, which means losing your muscle. Exercising for shorter periods but higher intensity works your cardiovascular fitness better as it also targets your central nervous system. In regards to rowing one can increase the intensity a lot more easily and more safely. Tabata training is a great way to increase your intensity. To explain it simply, tabata training involves doing intervals with short burst of high intensity workout. A sample tabata workout will look something like:
- 1 min moderate rowing
- 20 seconds high intensity rowing
- Rest for 10 seconds
- 20 seconds high intensity rowing
- 60 seconds moderate rowing
Etc. There are no particular pattern t this type of training and it very intense. Tabata training is excellent at improving one’s cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance. Due to the intensity of this workout, whatever fitness level you are at, tabata training will always push to the limit.
Rowing machines provide an ideal platform for tabata training which helps with building muscle and improving your cardiovascular fitness.