4 Types of Rowing Machines – Which one is the best type for you?


Move over Peloton! Hydraulic, Water, Fly Wheel, Magnetic? Which rowing machine is the right rowing machine?

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There are 4 types of rowers for sale from many different brands on the market. A basic rower can start at $200, but they can reach over $2,000 for some of the higher-rated brands. Hydraulic, Water, Fly Wheel, or Magnetic? Which rowing machine is the right rowing machine?

Investing in a rowing machine will be life-changing – I say that, and 100% mean it! Not only do rowing machines provide a solid strength training & cardio workout, but they barely take up any space and some are aesthetically pleasing *ahem* WaterRower’s rower.

Rowing has helped improve my stamina, endurance, and strength. I do kettlebell and free weight workouts about 3-4 days a week at our gym and then I use my rowing machine in our home gym 2 days a week because it gets in my weekly cardio. I used to love running (retired marathon & 5k runner!) but now I hate it. Unlike running, rowing is low-impact, meaning I can still burn a ton of calories and strengthen my muscles without putting added stress on my joints. I just pop on an episode of The Office or Schitt’s Creek and before I even realize it, I’ve been rowing for nearly an hour.

Which rowing machine are you interested in? Do you own one already – do you love it?

home gym rowing machine

According to the American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA), the rowing stroke is comprised of 65 to 75 percent leg work and 25 to 35 percent upper bodywork. That is incredible!!

Rowing targets 5 major muscle groups:

  • upper back
  • pecs
  • arms
  • abdominal muscles
  • obliques

Rowing also strengthens your leg muscles, including the:

  • quadriceps
  • calves
  • glutes

There are 4 types of rowing machines available and depending on what you are looking for, this list will help you find out which rowing machine is best for you!

water rowing benefits

Water Rowing Machines

This is the type I own. These rowing machines mimic how it would be to actually row in the water. The resistance comes from a “drag” that acts like the water you would be rowing through.

I have the WaterRower club rower and I truthfully cannot say anything negative about it. I find the swoosh of the water extremely relaxing. It’s hard to believe that something that sounds so relaxing can kick your butt in even just 10 minutes. To keep the water looking fresh and clean, I use Aquatabs. Each and every time I row, I like to mix up my speed, time, and stride count – this keeps my body guessing and evolving.

A water rowing machine is considered the best type of rower among the rowing community because of its features and design, and because it actually gives you the sensation of rowing in a lake due to the water that€™s filled in the tank. I love the swishing sound the water makes as the flywheel rotates inside the tank.

As you have probably understood by the name the resistance is provided by the water. Water-resistance rowing machine models consist of a paddle revolving in an enclosed tank of water, the drag of water creates the resistance, the faster you row, the more resistance you will feel throughout the workout.

You can change the resistance level by increasing or decreasing the water level in the tank. A water rower will give you a thorough workout including cardio, upper level, and lower-level body parts. It is suitable for workout equipment at home. The Water Rower is usually the first choice to buy because this typically meets everybody’s workout requirements.


water rowing benefits

Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines

The resistance on these machines comes from a magnetic brake system. These rowing machines tend to be silent and give a smooth stroke for the rower. With 15 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance, the HomeFit rowing machine will fit different workout plans for beginners or experts.

On a magnetic rowing machine, there is no friction required, and this leads to no sound thus making it a great indoor rowing machine for multi-tasking watching T.V, etc. The Magnetic rower will give you a full-body workout and cardio, but it won’t feel like actual rowing. The resistance on Magnetic Rowers is adjusted with the permanent magnet system.


Magnetic Resistance Machine


The new Hydrow Rowing Machines look pretty neato, too! So modern!! It is the peloton of rowers!! If you want to read more, Business Insider has a full review of the Hydrow Rowing Machine.

Flywheel Rowing Machines

This rowing machine is also called an air rowing machine. The resistance on this machine comes from how hard or soft you pull back. Your pulling motion spins a flywheel, hence the name.

The resistance on Flywheel Rowing Machine is provided by the wind which gives you the feeling of outdoor rowing.

The flywheel rower gives you a full cardio workout and works your upper body muscles, along with your calves and lower body. The adjustable vent use to control the volume of air moved by the vanes of the rotating Flywheel, thus a smaller vent result in lower resistance, and the larger vent creates higher resistance.

The NordicTrack rowing machine is a high-capacity rowing machine that has adjustable resistance levels, allowing you to engage in total body workouts customized to your fitness needs. This superior rowing machine allows you to train and target all major muscle groups while building cardiovascular endurance.

Hydraulic Rowing Machines

These rowing machines are great if you are tight on space or want a more budget-friendly rower. Hydraulic rowing machines’ resistance comes from the cylinder inside the machine and how much air or fluid is inside.

If you are looking for a compact but effective rower on a tight budget, this is the type of rowing machine for you. Hydraulic rowing machines work on the piston resistance that comes from the Hydraulic cylinders that are attached to the handle of the rowing machine, the simpler mechanism of the hydraulic rowing machine makes it popular who are looking for specifically a cardiovascular workout and upper body toning. The Hydraulic is not ideal for lower body workout because it usually has a fixed seated position.

I know some people buy hydraulic rowers for their office and use it during their lunch break.

different types of rowing machines

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