Rowing Machine Buying Guide
Although rowing machines are not quite as popular as treadmills
or exercise bikes there is still a wide selection of brands, styles
and price ranges available to choose from. Below we have outlined
some of the main things to look for and keep in mind when buying
a rowing machine that will suit your needs.
Rowing machines can vary quite substantially in terms of both
style and quality - and so does the price. A very basic model can
be bought for about £50 whereas a high quality top of the
range rowing machine can set you back by almost £1500. Remember
that with all exercise machines you generally get what you pay
for so it is always a good idea to spend a little bit extra to
get a durable and more comfortable machine. As you go up in price
not only will the build quality be better but you are also likely
to find extra features that will add to the comfort, convenience
and motivational power of the machine.
There are a few different types of resistance system commonly
found on rowing machines. Air resistance is often found on good
quality rowing machines. The resistance is provided by a finned
flywheel which sucks in air as the row arm is pulled back. This
allows for “stepless” and unlimited resistance adjustment – more
resistance is simply achieved by rowing faster.
A hydraulic rowing machine is a more low-end option which uses
hydraulic pistons to provide resistance. This type of rower will
offer levels of resistance, often adjusted manually by moving some
form of clamps or levers. While hydraulic rowers can provide a
decent workout, they do not simulate the feel of real rowing to
the same extent as air rowers do as the movement tends to lack
the same smoothness and fluidity.
Magnetic rowers use a flywheel and magnetic braking to provide
resistance. Just like hydraulic rowers these will often come with
a limited number of adjustable resistance levels, although some
models offer stepless resistance. There are also models that use
a combination of air and magnetic resistance.
If you are after the most authentic feeling of real outdoor rowing
possible you could consider a water rower. It uses a stainless
steel paddle inside a tank filled with water to provide resistance.
Just like with rowing machines based on air resistance intensity
is increased simply by rowing faster, but you can also increase
or decrease resistance further by adjusting the water level. A
water rower provides exceptionally smooth, vibration free movement
- with the soothing sound of moving water rather than the noise
of air being sucked into a flywheel.
Rowing machines can take up a fair bit of space, especially more
expensive models as they tend to have more generously sized seat
rails. If you have quite long legs you will need a machine with
a good length seat rail, whereas a shorter user may be able to
get away with a more compact model. Measure the space you have
available and compare it to the dimensions of the rowing machine
before making your choice. If lack of space is a concern there
are several models available that will fold for storage to free
up some of that much needed floor space for other things when the
machine is not in use.
As opposed to treadmills and exercise bikes, rowing machines seldom
offer any preset or customisable workout programmes as speed and
resistance often completely depends on how hard and fast you pull
on the row arm. As such they cannot really be called fully motivational
machines but look out for models with heart rate monitoring and
consoles that display a wide range of workout feedback as this
will still help with keeping you motivated and tracking your progress.
It is always a good idea to check out the warranties offered on
any exercise machine you are considering, especially if you are
investing in a more expensive model. Generally speaking, high quality
manufacturers will back durable equipment with generous warranties.
Most rowing machines will come with at least a one year parts and
labour warranty with higher quality manufacturers offering a two
or even three years warranty.
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