So you want to get back in shape fast but don’t have the time to have a full workout down at the gym? Many practitioners suggest that a perfect solution for that matter is getting the best rowing machine. Well, I can’t agree more but the problem is there are so many rowing machines out there and this thing is just too hefty an investment for trial and error. If you’ve been hesitant about which rowing machine is the best in the market, this comprehensive guide and review should help you out. You’ll be learning about a few types of rowing machines together with their benefits and shortcomings.
What Is a Rowing Machine?
In a nutshell, a rowing machine is a fitness tool featuring a sliding seat designed to simulate rowing, as in rowing a canoe with an oar. Even though originally this machine is used to improve cardiovascular strength, it is later discovered that working out with a rowing machine activates the whole muscles in our body. In other words, it’s similar to performing a full body workout with various tools and machines; burning more calories while doing only one power exercise, saving you both time and money. Most indoor rowers are equipped with an ergometer that calculates the amount of energy you’ve pushed into it. That way, you can figure out your progress during your program.
Types of Rowing Machine
Currently, the market provides you with at least four types of rowing machines each of which is easily distinguished by how the resistance is set. Here they are:
– Hydraulic Rowing: Uses hydraulic tubes linked directly to the handles. The good thing about it is its affordable and very compact in size. The downside, however, is the seat is fixed so you can’t really train your leg muscles.
– Magnetic Rowing: Uses electromagnetic force to set the resistance. What I like about it is it almost makes no sound. Sadly, you can’t adjust how heavy the resistance is. You will end up with factory preset for the rest of your life.
– Air Rowing: Uses air pressure to create the resistance. It is the second best machine that delivers authentic rowing experience. It is slightly more expensive than the hydraulic and magnetic counterparts, though.
– Water Rowing: The most expensive yet most authentic rowing machine out there. It features an actual tank with water, complete with a real paddle. Basically, you don’t need it, unless you’re a professional Olympic athletes.
There is actually another type of rowing machine that combines hydraulic, magnetic and air resistance altogether. It is costly but not as much as the water rowing machine.
Why You Must Have a Rowing Machine
You got it all wrong if you think that a rowing machine is just another tool for cardio exercise like your old treadmills. It’s not even close to say that a rowing machine is only great for upper body workout. The thing with rowing machines is that they allow you to burn calories a whole lot more by involving the entire muscles on your body. Another benefit is, unlike other power exercise machines, rowing machines pose the least pressure on your joints and knees. You can tone and strengthen your muscles without worrying about getting injuries. In that regards, rowing machines also suit many people of different ages and fitness levels.
What to Look for When Choosing a Rowing Machine
First things first, you want to be sure of why you actually want an indoor rowing machine. Motivations can be different from one person to another. If you just need a great fitness tool to help you stay in shape or even lose weight, it’s good enough to just go with hydraulic or magnetic rowing machine. They are relatively inexpensive and serve the purpose just right. However, if it is the authentic rowing experience you’re looking for, perhaps you want to be a national athlete or something, you need to get at least the air rowing machine. If you can afford it, by all means, get the water counterpart. It’s worth every penny you spend.
Furthermore, you must consider the available space in your house. Unlike treadmills, rowing machines are huge in size. You need to have a reasonably large room to put a high-end air rowing machine. If you have issues with space, then get the hydraulic one. Several models even allow you to fold it and stash it on a tight corner. Lastly, if you intend to cover a highly intensive fitness program, you’d better pick out the one with great level of resistance. Thinking about all these things is vital, so you won’t end up buying the wrong rowing machine.
Top 5 Rowing Machine Reviews
#1. Concept2 Model D
The popularity of Concept2 Model D among fitness enthusiasts is out of the question. Even a number of professional rowing athletes use it too. That just goes on to say how great this tool actually is. The main feature that draws most people’s attention is the Flywheel which allows it to run without making almost any noise at all. There’s a spiral damper that you can use to adjust the air resistance on the flywheel. My take on this is always start low so you won’t get any stiff or sore muscle. Sliding seat is kept at 14-inch high from the ground and it’s firmly attached to the machine using a sturdy nickel-plated chain. To help you find out how well you’re doing with the machine, a highly advanced PM3 monitor is put into it using adjustable arms. The only thing you should note is that, although it can be disassembled quickly into two main parts, this machine takes quite a large space.
#2. Velocity Fitness CHR-2001
The air rowing Model D by Concept2 is great, except for the price. Now if you don’t feel like investing that high for a rowing machine, Velocity Fitness CHR-2001 is the ideal choice for you. It’s reasonably priced but has all the features you need to get a good workout experience at home. For starter, you’re going to like how silent it is. Furthermore, despite being a magnetic rowing machine, it allows you to increase the resistance up to 8 levels higher from the starting point. The monitor is not as advanced as Concept2’s machine, but it does enable you to monitor your heart rate precisely. Simply wear the chest strap and you’re good to go. If you want to compete on a marathon run, this machine should be a great companion to increase your cardio strength. Lastly, thanks to its foldable design, you can make the most out of your space.
#3. ProRower H2O RX-750
Remember when I warn you about most water rowing machines being quite hefty in price? Well, ProRower H2O RX-750 is an exception. It does cost higher than the two machines we have looked at so far but not too much. Even then, you still get the lifetime warranty as an exchange. Most manufacturers only provide 5-year warranty, mind you. Anyway, the thing with water rowing machine like this one is you can’t really set the resistance using a button or a switch. You adjust it with your effort. I mean the resistance will get higher on itself if you row hard and fast. Similarly, it will become mildly low if you row slowly and just want to enjoy experience. Now if you think you have pushed all your muscle into it yet the resistance is still not as high as you expect, simply add more water to the reservoir. There’s a display to show your rowing data but it seems to be pretty basic.
#4. Stamina 1215i
For those of you living in a small apartment, Stamina 1215i should be an appealing option for you. This hydraulic rowing machine offers a nice compact yet sturdy design that won’t take too much space. The best thing about it, however, it allows you to perform full-range-motion rowing just like how you would row a canoe. Even many high-end machines don’t have this. Most just give you a handheld with retractable cord that you can only pull backward. Did I say that the price is just a half of an air rowing machine too? Anyway, the hydraulic resistance can be adjusted easily and if you thing the highest setting is still too easy for you, you can set the beam to incline higher. For added comfort, the footrests are designed with pivoting joint. Also, the seat has that comfy thick padding. For a last note, some people do report about its built being not too sturdy and durable but you get a 5-year warranty to cover that.
#5. Stamina Air Rower
Stamina Air Rower is still from the same manufacturer as the previous machine but instead of featuring a hydraulic mechanism, it creates the resistance by applying a good deal of air pressure. While the rower and sliding seat are very smooth in motion, the machine makes quite some noise while you use it. It’s nothing like it’s going to break or something, though. In fact, I think the construction seems to be pretty solid. Anyway, for a fully-loaded air rowing machine, it is a bit on the small side. So, I wouldn’t recommend it if you have a quite big body.