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Rowing Machine Buying Guide

May 15, 2021 4 min read
Rowing Machine Buying Guide Rowing Machine Buying Guide

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    Rowing machines (AKA ergometers) have developed greatly since the early models that appeared in the mid-1800s. Nowadays rowers are popular and highly effective fitness tools that have plenty of benefits from high-intensity cardio training to toning muscles. If you’re considering buying a rowing machine then read on to find out more about what a rower can do for you and what to consider before you buy.

    What are the benefits of rowing machines?

    Weight loss

    Rowing machines are one of the best pieces of equipment for weight loss as they work your entire body, maximising the number of calories you burn.

    Cardiovascular and respiratory health

    Similar to above, the ability to carry out such an intensive, full body workout will produce the greatest possible improvements to both your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

    Reduced impact

    Unlike a treadmill, there is limited impact involved when using a rowing machine, it allows you to train hard without worrying about damaging your joints or bones.

    Full body workout

    Utilising your entire body in the movement makes rowing an incredibly efficient workout and a great choice for those who are limited on time.

    Cardio and strength training

    Unlike most pieces of cardio equipment, the resistance produced allows you to work your individual muscles at the same time, making for a much more efficient, well rounded workout.

    Muscle building

    Rowing involves using your legs, back and arms to push and pull against a resistance, encouraging you to build and tone muscle as you go.

    Types of rowing machine

    Manual magnetic resistance

    Manual magnetic resistance features a flywheel surrounded by magnets, which generate different levels of resistance based on how far apart you set the magnets in each pair, usually by turning a dial. These are generally a good option for anyone who is on a budget but still needs a relatively quiet machine.

    Computer-controlled magnetic resistance

    These operate in much the same way as above, except instead of being controlled with a dial, you set the level of resistance on an on-board computer. These are useful for anyone who wants to be able to adjust their resistance without stopping or getting off the machine.

    Water resistance

    Water resistance rowers feature a flywheel turning in a container of water, which is what generates the resistance. These are ideal for those trying to replicate outdoor rowing as closely as possible.

    Things to consider

    Resistance type

    Ensure the resistance type is right for you, factoring in issues such as feel, noise, cost, etc.

    Flywheel weight

    Flywheels can sometimes be quite heavy depending on the model. If you have a weight limit where you plan to use it or need to move it around to store it, make sure you can do it without any issues.

    Monitor controls

    The monitor can control everything from the resistance level to the program you are using and can even track stats, such as the number of calories burned. Make sure you choose a model that comes with the options you desire.

    Noise level

    Rowing machines can be very noisy. If that is a concern, you should select one that is as quiet as possible.

    Height of seat and adjustable foot straps?

    While most foot straps are adjustable and height is generally universal, make sure you check what your model offers, especially if you have any specific concerns, such as particularly large feet etc.

    Weight limit?

    If you are a larger user, ensure you can safely use the equipment based on its weight limit before purchasing.


    If you have limited space to use or store the machine in, ensure the dimensions are suitable before you buy your rowing machine.

    Folding or not?

    While many rowers are foldable not all are. So, if you are planning to store yours away after use, ensure that the model you pick is suitable.

    Extra features

    With a varying range of extra features available from model to model, especially when it comes to type and number of programmes. If you have any specific requirements, make sure your preferred option comes with what you are expecting.


    With an expensive piece of equipment, you want to ensure there is a warranty that gives you comfort and confidence in your purchase. All our products feature at least a 1-year warranty but, if that isn’t enough, check what your chosen model comes with before purchasing.

    Your budget

    With options ranging from affordable to extremely expensive, set a budget early so you don’t waste your time analysing a product you can’t afford.

    Rowing machine maintenance

    The chain on a rowing machine will need to be regularly oiled, to ensure it stays free from rust and continues moving freely. All machines should be cleaned of sweat after to ensure the machine is cleaned and prevent it from smelling. Water rowers will also need to have their water changed periodically, to stop it from getting stagnant.

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