Back view of Athletic man which using rowing machine in gym

A rower machine is the best option if you want to work on endurance, strength and cardio all without leaving your house. If you like sports and hate going to the gym when it’s cold, rowing is the most complete physical activity you can practice from the comfort of your own home. Not only that, you’ll also burn a huge amount of calories without even realizing it and as an added bonus, it’s a really fun physical activity. Ergometers are in high demand thanks to the emergence of “Indoor Rowing”, i.e. ergometers at the gym.

It should be noted that official competitions for this modality of the sport are actually held in various countries. When it comes to rowing machines for domestic use on the other hand, their function tends to be aimed solely for personal training. As you will see throughout this article, they are in-fact some of the most well rounded pieces of equipment available to Americans, allowing you to get a full body workout with one single machine.

Key Facts

  • Rowing machines are also known as ergometers. The great thing about this equipment is that it allows you to work practically the entire musculature of the body without placing any impact on the joints.
  • These devices are currently classified by their flywheel resistance, which can be hydraulic, air, water or magnetic.
  • Modern rowing machines usually have magnetic resistance. Technological advancements have also impacted the making of rowing machines, new tech is constantly being incorporated into these pieces of equipment.

Our Selection: The Best Rowing Machines on the U.S. Market

Here are the most popular rowing machines on the American market. You can actually order them online and get the latest tech delivered right to your front door. Whether you’re looking for an ergo with an LCD screen or with a heart rate monitor, with this guide you’re sure to find the machine that will best suit your needs. To facilitate your search, below we have gathered the 5 best machines available in North America.

The Best Magnetic Rowing Machine

The rowing machine made by Sunny Health & Fitness is a quality rowing machine that can be assembly without expert assistance. This rowing machine has a large LCD console that displays time, count, calories and a total count scan. The convenient scan mode displays your progress to assist you in tracking all of your fitness goals. It has foam grip handle bars that offer maximum comfort and prevent calluses from forming during long use.

It has built-in transportation wheels that allow for easy transport and portability. Simply tilt and roll the rower out for use or for storage when you don’t need it. It’s folded dimensions are 37” L x 19” W x 53.5” H. With a simple twist, you can increase or decrease resistance while you row, so your workout can remain challenging and effective throughout your fitness journey. There are 9 resistance levels for very easy to very challenging workouts.

The Best Indoor Rower Machine

Although a bit more expensive, this rower has a complete 5 star rating on Amazon and is one of Amazon’s top choice items. This rower creates an extra smooth, low impact workout that engages all major muscle groups with a full-body, high-calorie burning motion. You can track your progress with real time reliable data. The performance monitor 5 (included) self calibrates for comparable results and can connect wirelessly to heart rate belts and apps (not included).

This rower is designed to fit most users. It has a 14 inch seat height and adjustable footrests with ergonomic handles. It separates easily into two pieces for storage with caster wheels to make it mobile and easily transportable. Assembled, it has dimensions of 8 ft x 2 ft. Disassembled, it has dimensions of only 25” x 33” x 54”. It has a 500 lb user capacity but is great for both those beginning a work out journey and those at a high athletic level.

The Best Foldable Rowing Machine

This amazing foldable design allows you to keep this rower even in the smallest of spaces. You can easily set up this machine whenever you want to use it and quickly store it again once you’ve finished your workout. Although that is the defining feature in the amazing rowing machine, it also has an lcd display panel that monitors your speed, distance, time, calories burned, rpm, date, temperature and can monitor your pulse when paired with a heart rate monitor chest strap (sold separately).

It has a durable mould-injected seat made with an ergonomic design that allows users to exercise comfortably and safely. It has adjustable foot straps with two different foot platforms that offer maximum comfort and stability. Once ordered, it’s an easy to assemble machine with a battery life that allows the lcd display to run for months on it’s own. Reviewers say it’s a smooth rower that is quiet and overall is a good rower for its price.

The Best Water Rower Machine

This rower by GoPlus has an innovative adjustable resistance water wheel that allows you to adjust the difficulty of your workout specifically to your needs. Based on the design of an impeller stoke, the rowing machine is adjusted by way of how much water is in the tank. It has a large LCD monitor that tracks your count per min, time, calories, distance and scan count. The scan mode displays your overall progress to help you in tracking your physiological data throughout your fitness journey.

With the water-resistant chest belt, you can track your heart rate while exercising. Additionally, the rowing machine can connect to your cell phone by simply downloading the app on your phone. The aluminum alloy slide rail is constructed with heavy duty sturdy steel that can support up to 220 lbs. This material doesn’t rust and will provide a smooth and quiet rowing experience.

The Best Full Body Rowing Machine

This full body exercise rowing machine by GoPlus can be used for a simple but effective aerobic workout or incorporated within any HIIT right in the comfort of your own home. This rowing machine has a tension control that features 10 preset magnetic levels that can be adjusted to match your target workout zone. The different levels of resistance allow for people with a wide variety of body types and ages to achieve their individual goals.

The large LCD monitor tracks your count per minute, calories, distance and scan to track all your different fitness variables and goals. There is a 15 degree inclined angle that balances comfort and appropriate exercise intensity. It minimizes noise while maximizing a smooth feel while you row. It is constructed of an iron material that is durable and can support up to 265 lbs with large pivoting footplated have a safety strap that is adjustable to a wide range of foot sizes. This model is very convenient to move and store.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Rowing Machines

There are countless models of rower machines available to Americans. When making your selection, you should take into account their characteristics and how these support your goals. Your level of experience should play a role when choosing the best model for you.

Your budget will also play an important role in determining which machine you end up choosing. To make sure you have all the information you need, in this next section we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions regarding rower machines.

Cuerpo sano mente sana

Rowing is an excellent exercise for the shoulders and back.
(Source: Rido: 77774250/123rf.com)

What is a rowing machine exactly and what are other names for it?

Rowing machines are also known as ergometers or rower machines. For the purpose of training, these apparatuses simulate the traction created by the oars in the water. Both domestic and professional use rowers simulate traditional rowing, allowing anyone to train anywhere. This is particularly handy since practicing in a real boat on the water is not always possible.

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Did you know that today, there is still the sport discipline of traditional rowing? What’s more, there are multiple regattas held in lake towns during the summer. Rowing is also a popular sport among Ivy League Universities.

What are resistance flywheels in reference to rower machines?

Today’s rowing machines have resistors linked under the handlebars. They are called resistance flounces, or inertia, and are sometimes placed right in front of the handlebars. They allow the subject to exert force to simulate and accurate pull of the “oars”. As you can see below, there are several kinds of resistance flywheels, let’s look at their distinctive characteristics:

Hydraulic Resistance Water Resistance Air Resistance Magnetic Resistance
Uses hydraulic pistons. In these cases, the pistons determine the resistance and the handlebars are fixed. Uses closed water tanks to give the sensation of rowing in a natural environment and the resistance will depend on your “rowing”. Works with a flywheel of inertia, the resistance is adjusted to suit your strength and tempo when rowing. Uses electromagnets to create resistance, these are best suited for experienced rowers.

What are the benefits of using a rower machine at home?

Rowing is considered a truly well-rounded sport that hones the overall endurance and strength of the body and cardiovascular system. Because you work both lower and upper body at the same time, you work the entire musculature while expanding cardiovascular capacity. Moreover, if you use the rower machine correctly, you won’t risk any damage and impact to your joints. As you can see in the following list, these machines can have many benefits.

  • Ideal for muscle reconstruction. If you have had an injury, rowing will help you regenerate damaged muscle and increase full body strength. It is usually recommended as rehabilitation to a plethora of injuries.
  • Great cardiovascular exercise. When you work so many muscles it also benefits your heart. The great thing about getting your cardiovascular workout this way is that it doesn’t require high intensity or high impact to your joints.
  • If you row competitively and its off season. An ergometer at home is a great source of complimentary training that you can do without leaving your home.
  • No impact on joints. As mentioned before, using a rower means you will not damage the hip or knee joints. This exercise also strengthens the bones, so it really does benefit the entire body.
Fortalecer la espalda es clave para el desarrollo muscular

Rowing as a sport, was
born in the 17th century, when the English introduced it as such.
(Source: Kzenon: 105353843/123rf.com)

What muscles are worked when using a rowing machine?

Rowing machines offer comprehensive training. You work no less than 80 percent of your body’s muscles. With rowing you strengthen your cardiovascular capacity and burn lots of calories which usually translates to weight loss. This sport also helps reduce stress, all the while toning most muscles, and the best part of it all? It involves no impact to the joints. In the following table we can see exactly which muscles are trained with the use of these machines:

Arms Legs Abdomen Back
Biceps, triceps and deltoids (over the shoulders) Quadriceps, buttocks and hamstrings (located at the back of the upper leg) Abdominals, obliques and erectors of the rachis (found in the lower back) Rhomboids (between the shoulder blades and the spine), broad dorsal muscles and trapezius (located over the broad dorsal muscle)

How can we avoid injury when using rowing machines?

It is essential that you use the proper rowing technique when executing repetitive movements on these machines. Since you can work the entire body with these devices, it is advisable to pay special attention to the individual movements of the upper and lower body. Next, we describe the specific movement for each of the body hemispheres.

Upper body Lower body
When you sit, make sure to keep a slight bend on your knees, avoid reaching full extensions to prevent injury. If you want a little more challenge, sit with extended knees, extended elbows at sternum height, and lean slightly backward.
First, place your upper body slightly back and make sure to refrain from flexing the thoracic, lumbar, and cervical areas. Think of “sticking the chest out”, this action helps prevent bringing tension to the spine. Second, use force to send the ankles, knees and hips forward. Remember to lift the heels away from the pedals to push with the balls of your feet.
Next, look straight ahead and don’t lift the shoulders towards the ears. Keep flexion in the elbows and the palms facing the sternum. Last, for this part of the exercise, it is crucial that you exert force by flexing your lower body to propel you forward and backward. Don’t forget that the heels should not be attached to the pedals.

Purchase Criteria

If you intend to buy a rowing machine for domestic use, there are a number of important things to consider. If you’re not very tall, you will be able to use any ergometer, however, that will not be the case if you’re taller than 1.80 cm. The same thing happens with weight variations. Let’s look at the most important criteria to consider before purchasing one of these machines.

  • Weight And Height
  • Space
  • Type of Resistance
  • Inertia Flywheel Weight
  • Quality
  • Accessories
  • Intended Use

Weight And Height

As we mentioned at the beginning of this section, it is important to check the weight and height capacities for each device. Generally, all specifications include the maximum supported weight. In addition, if the rowing machine is going to be used by several users, it is essential that it has a great and supportive structure.

Space

Before you make the purchase make sure you have enough space to store your rowing machine. Most domestic devices fold into an L-shape for storage, but their dimensions are quite different when fully set up. Keep size in mind to make sure you don’t run into any unpleasant surprises when it arrives. Don’t worry, size doesn’t really affect the quality of the product.

Excelente ejercicio para el cardio

Rowing initially served as a means of transportation, both in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece.
(Source: Gstockstudio: 53664361/123rf.com)

Type of Resistance

There are different types of rowing machines, generally classified by their resistance flywheels. There are magnetic, hydraulic, air and water steering wheels that create resistance, as if you were rowing in the water. To have a better understanding of what this means, take a closer look at their individual characteristics:

  • Hydraulic Resistance: It uses hydraulically shaped pistons and the pistons are the ones that determine the resistance. The handlebars are fixed, i.e. they are not adjustable.
  • Water Resistance: It uses closed water tanks to give the sensation of rowing in a natural environment. The resistance is adjusted by the row, just like with air resistance flywheels. However, keep in mind that incorporating a water tank adds a considerable amount of weight to the device.
  • Air Resistance: It uses a flywheel and like before, the resistance adjusts according to your strength and tempo when paddling (or pulling the handlebars). You can’t adjust the resistance manually.
  • Magnetic Resistance: It uses electromagnets to create resistance. The resistance can be adjusted to your preferences and it can be measured and managed through the LCD monitor.

Inertia Flywheel Weight (Or Resistance)

The weight of the endurance steering wheel is not a trivial matter. Keep in mind that this exercise will feel more like natural rowing the heavier this weight is. It is therefore important that the flywheel is strong and robust. To give you a point of reference, the flywheel of an acceptable rowing machine weighs between 6 and 9 kilograms (kg).

Quality

Keep in mind the wear of a rowing machine is very high, so quality is a fundamental aspect. Parts can be very expensive and hard to come by, so investing in a trusted, quality product is better than regretting your purchase and wasting your money. Good finishes and quality materials are essential elements that must be considered when purchasing an ergometer.

Accessories

Today’s rowing machines include a number of accessories that can be of great use to you. Among them are heart rate monitors or pulse sensors. It’s also common to find yourself a model with a console or LCD screen. These accessories are meant to guide you and motivate you through your work-outs. In the following list we explain the benefits of each of these features:

  • Pulsometer: It measures your pulse in real time. This feature shows you the impact the exercise is having on your body so that you can adjust resistance programs according to your goals.
  • LCD screens: For example, they give you information such as calories burned, duration of exercise or number of rows, for instance. Some consoles even have training programs designed by professional trainers. They can be used to follow a specific workout, develop a specific muscle group or lose fat.
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Did you know that on high-end LCD screen devices you can even have virtual races with other users?

Intended Use

Not all machines are made equal, and not all machines can handle intense use. If you need to train for being on the water, you will need a robust and stable rowing machine so that it does not wear out and deteriorate quickly. As a reference, keep in mind that sporadic use is between 3 to 7 hours a week, anything more and the durability of the device will be a very important factor to consider.

Summary

Domestic rowing machines are the best way to train the whole body without leaving your home. Thanks to technological advances, in North America today we have a wide selection of high quality devices at very affordable prices. Newer devices generally include modern LCD screens so that you can monitor your exercise metrics and and even interact with other rowers.

There are several types of rowing machines, but magnetic rowing machines are undoubtedly the most advisable if you are looking to train assiduously. Your pocket will notice it in the short term, but with time you will realize that you have made a good investment. If you want to use it to exercise sporadically, opt for one with a hydraulics system, you won’t regret it.

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(Featured image source: Drobot: 75914146/123rf.com)

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