Great! So, you’ve figured that a rowing machine is perfect for you. However, you have searched the market and found a lot of different types of rowing machines. Now you’re confused and might not even know where to start.

We’re going to explain a little bit about the different types of rowing machines and how each of these can benefit you.

I understand your struggle! You want to lose weight or build some muscle, but learning how to achieve this can be overwhelming. You’ve probably read a lot of articles about how to lose weight or read about different workout methods, but you just can’t seem to figure out what will work best for your busy lifestyle.


Let’s just focus on the average person who is thinking about whether he or she should buy an exercise bike, a treadmill, a recumbent, a spin bike, or a rowing machine. We always get a lot of people who ask us which one is best! So I want to cut through all the noise and help you guys make it a bit easier to figure out how to choose a rowing machine for your exercise goals.

But will a rowing machine really help me?

If you can relate to those who have been trying to lose weight without seeing results, then a rowing machine should be part of your exercise regime.

  • It’s ideal for any workout plan

Most of our customers are forever busy. They need a short, sharp, and intense workout. This is why rowing machines are incredibly effective at targeting overall muscles and provide a high rate of calorie burn.

  • It works and is proven

Rowing machines have become even more popular with the rise of CrossFit and other major entertainment competitions. Strength and conditioning has become relevant in almost every competitive sport out there – and with that there is always a rowing machine that is in that mix of training. It provides one of the highest metabolic conditioning in-terms of cardio and strength. Typically rowing machines have been proven to be one of the best sources to achieve this.

  • It doesn’t take up a lot of space

We come face-to-face with a lot of people who may or may not have the space for their own rowing machine. That’s a big consideration. Thankfully, these days, a lot of rowing machines stand up vertically for storage, which means that you only need the space similar to a large chair. Brands such as Concept 2, Water Rowers and Matrix all easily store vertically.

In terms of training space, it could be anywhere between 1.8 to about 2.2 meters for a good quality rowing machine. Typically, we see that people prefer quality and will avoid cheap rowing machines.

Which Rower is Right for Me?

Now, let’s move on to the types of rowing machines. Depending on your goal, this is a critical step to achieving fitness success!

  1. The Water Rower

It is exactly what it is – a rowing machine where resistance is created by water that is stored in the drum. It’s quite a smooth machine with the water being the main resistance and the result is a friction-less training experience. The sound of the gushing water can be quite calming.

It’s similar to the air resistance rower because the resistance is also determined by the user’s rowing intensity. This means that the harder and faster you pull, the more intense it becomes. This will challenge you because the blades and paddles that move through the water will create more resistance. This results in a higher calorie burn.

  1. The Air Rower

This is probably one of the most popular rowing machines in the market. A lot of brands out there use air rowers for games, competitions, indoor competitions worldwide, and even in the Olympics. Air rowers have been around for a very long time and they are very common in a lot of gyms and health clubs.

Again, like the water rower, its resistance is determined by the user’s intensity. Many models allow the user to adjust the drag that affects how much air passes through the drum of the rowing machines. Because air rowers are very well known, this is the type that most people get – but not necessarily is the best. They tend to be quite noisy as well.

In recent years, air rowing machines have been popularized because of people seeing it on CrossFit games or on YouTube. In saying that; we have found that gyms typically purchase air rowers and home users have a number of other factors such as seat comfort, noise and size.

  1. The Magnetic Rowing Machine

Want something that’s a little less disturbing? This rowing machine can be considered as the quietest, if not almost dead silent, due to the magnetic system it has. There is no other resistance except for the magnets that provide tension and resistance, therefore creating little to no noise. This is perfect if you live in an apartment and don’t want to disturb surrounding people or if you have a family.

In terms of resistance, we found that some of the magnetic resistant rowing machines have a big advantage in terms of being able to adjust the level, just like an exercise bike or a treadmill where the computer can control this. We found that you can get a very smooth workout from it. Also if you row slowly, you can still feel the resistance from a magnet rower, opposed to the air and water rowing machines. So these are very durable, in my opinion, have been very popular for our customers.

Other Tips!

Know the quality you are buying.

When comparing rowing machines, it’s absolutely important to jump on the rowing machine to check out the quality because you will have a different feel with each one. Rowing is an extremely popular workout and are great for rehabilitation exercises as well. When used in the correct way, you will benefit greatly from it, so you need to be sure about how you feel when selecting a rowing machine.

In terms of pricing, it’s definitely true with the saying where you “pay for what you get”. Obviously, if you are looking for a cheap budget rowing machine – don’t expect much! You are probably wasting time and money. Expect to fork out at least $1,000-$2000 for a good quality rower. You might find a cheap second hand rower but you’d want to ensure that the components are not worn as it will cost hundreds in parts and labour fixing it.

Commercial VS Domestic Rowing Machines

Maybe you’re wondering, “Should I get a commercial rowing machine or a domestic one?” Well, the biggest difference between a commercial and a domestic rowing machine is that the commercial ones are made for longevity and have quality components. They are more durable and designed for heavy usage and load. The experience you feel on a quality rowing machine is second to none! However, if you are on a bit of a budget, then make sure that the warranties and support is backed by the place of purchase.

Buying a rowing machine can be very confusing. We get that! So, hopefully, this little piece of information can help everybody out there who wants to lose weight or build muscle with a rowing machine and help you achieve your goals.

Key Learnings

  • Understand your goals or speak to someone who can help you

  • Make sure you try different rowing machine types

  • Invest for long term exercise and always consider quality

  • Remember to consider the space and potential noise

  • Have a realistic budget and beware of cheap rowing machines

Follow this guide and you'll avoid any pitfalls when buying your first or next rowing machine.

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