Rowing machines buying guide

If you're looking for fitness equipment that focuses on low impact exercise to strengthen the arms and shoulders as well as major muscle groups, then a rowing machine is for you. Rowing machines combine the benefits of aerobic exercise with strength, muscle toning and flexibility through resistance. The machine simulates the activity of rowing in a boat, and if you've ever done that for any length of time, you'll appreciate what good exercise it is.

Types of rowing machines

As with other exercise machines, several different types of rowing machines are available, ranging from simple manually operated devices to those that simulate the action and feel of rowing on water.

  • Hydraulic (piston)

    Hydraulic rowing machines use hydraulic cylinders to provide resistance. They tend to have a less realistic feel as some other types of rower, although these machines take up little space and are generally great value.

  • Magnetic

    Quieter in operation than hydraulic rowers, these machines use powerful electromagnets to provide you with adjustable degrees of resistance.

  • Air

    Sometimes combined with magnetic resistance, air rowers offer a close representation of the actual rowing experience, second only to water rowers. Bear in mind the fan can get a little noisy during your workout.

  • Water

    Water rowers accurately simulate real rowing by increasing the resistance in direct proportion to the pace at which you row. They also allow you to adjust the amount of water in the resistance tank to increase or decrease the overall pressure and resistance. Water rowing machines tend to be bulkier and heavier than other types.

Additional features

All rowing machines are supplied with consoles that track (at least) speed, distance, time and calories burned. More advanced models may offer additional options, such as heart-rate monitoring, or dedicated programmes, making them ideal for matching your workout to your fitness level.

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