Beginner's Guide to Rowing

Rowing Machine Buying Guide

Buying a rowing machine for at-home use is one of the best investments you can make for your health and fitness. Rowing machines are excellent for delivering a low-impact total body workout in a short amount of time. 15-20 minutes of rowing creates a serious training effect mainly due to the unique combination of cardio and strength during a workout. 

Over the last five years, the rowing machine market has grown exponentially, giving consumers more buying options and creating confusion on which brands and models are best. This rowing machine review will help you navigate various rowing machine buying options, covering each in detail features, benefits, and advantages/disadvantages.  

Before Buying a Rowing Machine

There are a few things to consider before buying a rowing machine:

  •     Motivation to use consistently
  •     Cost
  •     Space
  •     Noise
  •     Type of rowing machine (air, hydraulic, magnetic, water)

Many people buy cardio machines with great intentions, only to have workout motivation fade.  You’re spending hundreds (maybe thousands) of hard-earned dollars on a piece of fitness equipment.  It’s best to assess how committed you are to sticking to the fitness plan before swiping your credit card. 

Besides cost, space is probably the next most significant concern. Do you have space for the equipment? There's nothing worse than buying something, getting it 75% assembled only to realize it doesn't fit the space you have. 

The noise an exercise machine makes during use can matter to people living in apartments or having children.  In general, cardio machines don't tend to be quiet since they are so mechanical. This rowing machine review will provide a fantastic alternative that is water-based.  

If you're dead-set on buying a rowing machine, you'll want to research the types of rowers available.  Many consumers aren't aware there are several different types of rowing machines.  

What Type of Rowing Machine Will You Need

Air Rowing Machines

Air rowing machines use resistance created by air.  Resistance increased or decreased by allow more or less air to enter the flywheel. Adjusting the resistance on an air rowing machine is quick and easy. A damper lever located on the flywheel allows more or less air to enter the flywheel on each stroke, thereby increasing or decreasing the difficulty of each stroke. Air rowing machines tend to have a “mechanical” feel and can have a drop-off (sometimes called flat spots) throughout each rowing stroke.  

Air rowing machines offer very similar features and functions to water rowing machines. Time, distance, calories burned, watts (power output), stroke rate are notable data.

Many higher-end air rowing machines offer a fold and store design. The seat and rail will disconnect from the flywheel.  Note, not all air rowers offer this breakdown feature, so pay attention as you shop. These are effective yet noisy machines.  

Hydraulic Rowers

A hydraulic rowing machine gets its name from the mechanism it uses to provide resistance. In this case, a hydraulic cylinder is used.  As you row for extended periods, the oil in the cylinder heats up, which causes a decrease in resistance during the workout.  

Monitors on these rowers are basic. They track distance, calories, time, and stroke count. Most don't have compatibility with heart rate monitors.  

The compact size of hydraulic rowers can make them a good choice for apartments and small homes. Most hydraulic rowers are about 4-5ft long (compared to a full-size rower that is 7-8ft long). These rowers weigh 30-60lb.  The weight capacity of most hydraulic rowers is 250lb, despite many users exceeding that amount.  

Hydraulic rowers are the cheapest rowing machine on the market, generally priced around $200-$600. 

The consensus with hydraulic rowers is that they are cheap, cheaply made, and don't do a great job mimicking rowing (compared to full-size rowers and on-water rowing).  

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowing machines, like air rowers, offer a smooth & strong rowing stroke.  One of the main benefits of magnetic resistance is noise reduction.

Magnetic resistance operates by moving a magnetic closer or farther from a metal flywheel. The closer the magnet gets to the flywheel, the more the eddy currents slow it down. The closer the magnet is to the flywheel, the more resistance. Less resistance is provided the further away the magnet is. 

Once you set the resistance level on a magnetic rower, it stays the same no matter how fast or slow you row. If you put the resistance to level 5, you will feel the same resistance, whether rowing slowly or very fast. To increase the resistance, you need to increase the resistance level.  The resistance can be controlled by manually turning a dial or pressing a button on the monitor. 

The monitors on magnetic resistance rowing machines can be basic or relatively complex. Either way, these monitors record a lot of data points, offer games and preset workout programs.  The downside to monitors on magnetic rowers is they do not record data as accurately as air rowers.

Water Rowers

Water rowing machines offer innovative water resistance, a smooth feel, and a stylish design. These rowers have a water tank and paddles that move water inside the tank with each pull.

Many first-time water rower users fall in love with the feel and sound of water whooshing around inside the tank. The consistent resistance and simulation to open water rowing are meditative yet challenging for the whole body.  

Water rowing machines are famous for a smooth and shake-free rowing experience.  The forgiving feel of a water rower allows the user to hone in on technique, timing, and mechanics while minimizing the risk of injury.  The paddles push water around inside the tank to create consistent resistance without any drop-off.  

Water rowing machines provide a unique form of water resistance that doesn't allow speedy adjustments, but this isn’t bad.  Instead, the difficulty of a workout increases proportionate to the intensity, dependent on stroke rate and pulling power.  

The water level inside the tank determines what size boat you’re rowing. Adding more water will simulate rowing a heavier boat, while less water in the tank will simulate a lighter boat.  

Decreasing the water level inside the tank is perfect for beginners who want to learn proper rowing techniques, maximize the strength and cardio benefits of rowing, and mitigate the risk of injury.  There's no need to rush into filling the water tank full, and you probably shouldn't. 

Performance monitors are mounted at eye level and provide real-time data on training variables such as: 

  •     Time
  •     Distance
  •     Stroke rate
  •     Calories burned
  •     Watts (power output)
  •     Preset standard workouts 
  •     Custom workouts 

Monitors give the user valuable feedback on intra-workout performance, which is essential for tracking effort.  

Advantages and Disadvantages Different Rowing Machines

With each type of rowing machine, there are advantages and disadvantages.  

Hydraulic rowers offer a luring price point but lack durability, functionality, and features.  The decrease in resistance during workouts and weight limit restrictions are significant limitations to this style of rower.  The monitors on this machine are generally low quality and have little relation to full-size rowing machine metrics.  

Magnetic rowing machines offer a virtually noise-free training experience, but the longevity of these machines is a real question.  Plus, the price point of magnetic rowing machines might be too much for most people’s budgets.  For those who don’t have a separate space for a home gym, this machine will look like a piece of fitness equipment in your living room.  

Air rowing machines are the most well-known, yet the noise projected from the flywheel can be a real turn-off for people who need to be mindful of noise levels.  Air rowers are loud, which can be a problem for parents with kids or people who live in apartments.  High-quality air rowers can also be expensive.   

Water rowers use a unique form of resistance, keep noise to a minimum, and have an aesthetic appeal that few other types of rowers can offer.  The water rower is the best choice for those who want to get close to actual on-water rowing.  

What is the Best Rowing Machine for Your Home

Water rowing machines are the best choice for at-home use.  They offer a smoother rowing experience, better aesthetics, and a closer simulation to open water rowing.  

GoRowinGo’s water rowing machine is a top choice in the water rowing machine category.  This water rower offers the perfect balance of price, performance, durability, and noise reduction.  

The vibration resistance wood frame and water tank reduce noise, while skid resistance feet keep the machine in place while rowing.  This innovative machine also features ergonomic anti-slip foot pedals, a built-in phone stand, and a cushioned seat for user comfort. 

GoRowinGo’s water rowing machine is a gorgeous piece of equipment constructed from natural wood, capable of being stored on end for space efficiency or kept in plain view to complement any living space.  

The GoRowinGo water rower delivers a unique blend of strength and cardio that will build endurance, challenge muscles, and burn calories to help accelerate weight loss. 

Most rowing companies sell consumers the machine and send them on their way.  Not GoRowinGo. GoClub will help you get the most out of your rower, connecting you with a growing community of rowing enthusiasts, sharing workout videos and fitness tips, along with early access to sales, new accessories, and promotional offers. 

GoRowinGo is on a mission to offer a world-class rowing machine and workout experience as you’ve never had before. 

Learn more at

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