4 Types of Rowing Machines for Your Home Gym

A top view of two women and two men exercising on row machines.

From the piston or cylinder based rowing machine and Water Rowers to the flywheel or air rower and magnetic resistance indoor rower, working out on a rowing machine is one of the top ways to increase your cardiovascular and aerobic health while also strengthening many different groups of muscles.

Staying healthy is more important than ever and one of the ways to keep your body in great shape is to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Rowing is one of the better exercises you can embark upon to achieve aerobic fitness and wellness for your body.

Rowing machines, which are also known as rowing ergometers, provide tons of benefits to you and your body, including weight loss and increased endurance. A rowing machine can provide you with both an upper body workout and a lower body workout along with low-impact cardio exercise.

Rowing machines offer you the opportunity to develop your cardiovascular system along with your muscular system. Unlike treadmills, stair-stepper machines, and exercise bikes, a rowing machine allows you to work your upper body and your lower body at the same time. And the fun part is they are convenient and affordable.

Indoor rowing machines are great in the fact that you can use them day or night enduring any ink during any kind of weather because you use it indoors at your home when it is convenient for you.

There are several features that are available with various types and brands of rowing machines, including the display area that will tell you how long you have been rowing, the distance you have rowed, the amount of energy you have consumed, the number of strokes you have completed, your pulse rate, and frequency. Some machines even include a recovery feature that grades you on your level of cardio wellness on an index from one to six.

A rowing machine is not a new concept when it comes to workout equipment. Rowers have been around since the 1800s with the first patent in the United States being issued in 1872 to W.B. Curtis who created a hydraulic-based damper design for his rowing machine.

The Narragansett hydraulic rowing machine was produced by a company in Rhode Island from around 1900 to approximately 1960. Rowing machines became very popular among coaches for training purposes in the 1950s and 1960s and have evolved into the different types of rowing machines on the market today.

There are many options of rowers available on the market today but there are several different types of indoor rowing machines to choose from to get your fitness groove on. From the hydraulic rowing machine and Water Rower to the flywheel and magnetic resistance indoor rowers, there are many options you can choose from to use to increase your health and wellness. While there are pros and cons for each of these rowing machines, overall they cannot be beaten when it comes to your overall cardiovascular and aerobic health.

Hydraulic Rowing Machine

CHENNAO Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms, Hydraulic Rowing Machine, Rowing Machine with LCD Display -Max Strength
Click image for more info

The hydraulic rowing machine, also known as a piston rower, is a great option for you, especially if your budget is tight and you do not want to spend a lot of money on a rowing machine. Even though the price of this type of rower is economical, the features of it are worth every penny you do spend since it provides you with a good workout. It is also created to reduce the amount of space the machine takes up in your home so it is an even better option for people who have limited space in their house or apartment.

One drawback to a hydraulic piston based rower is the fact you cannot move your body in such a way that you are in a natural position for rowing. You must be in more of an exercise position that does not allow you to move in a more natural way that you would be able to if you were actually rowing a boat.

With hydraulic rowing machines, you can change the amount of tension there is for you to get the workout you prefer. The machine’s tension is created by the amount of airflow or fluid that is compressed through a piston or cylinder. The amount of tension can be adjusted anytime you feel the need to decrease or increase it. One downside is that unlike air, magnetic, and water rowing machines, this type of rower does not allow you to be able to pull in a straight line while you are working out. This is the reason you cannot row in a more natural position and move your legs and arm in sync with each other.

Flywheel Rowing Machines

MaxKare Rowing Machine Air Rower Dual Belt Dynamic Air Resistance with LCD Monitor for Home Use Huge Challenging Resistance Unadjustable For Senior Rower User
Click image for more info.

The flywheel rowing machine, also known as the air rowing machine, is very much like rowing outside on the water. The resistance of flywheel rowing machines is produced from the pulling motion of the person using the machine. This movement spins the flywheel that sports fan blades and the resistance is then produced by the wind that is created from this action.

When you want to increase your resistance while working out on a flywheel rowing machine, all you have to do is simply pull harder. When you pull harder, your movement makes the flywheel turn faster, creating a greater resistance from the wind that is produced from the blades of the fan on this amazing rower you use inside your house or at a gym.

When comparing the flywheel or air rowing machine to a piston or hydraulic rowing machine, the air producing machines offer a smoother, more continuous flow of movement that seems to be more natural to your body.

One of the most popular flywheels or air rowing machines is the Concept II because it is used by many fitness instructors and enthusiasts as well as health clubs and gyms, corporate fitness centers, and even rehabilitation centers and hospitals. It is even used by rowing champions throughout the world, including participants of the European Indoor Rowing Championships. Many personal trainers also recommend this type of flywheel rowing machine.

Magnetic Resistance Indoor Rowers

XTERRA Fitness ERG700 Rower
Click image for more info

Much like the air rowing machine, magnetic resistance indoor rowers also offer a smooth workout experience and allow for a strong and powerful rowing stroke. Depending on the type and brand of magnetic resistance indoor rower you choose and the features and bells and whistle you want the machine to have, the prices on this type of rowing machine will vary quite a bit.

The great feature about a magnetic resistance rower is that it is extremely quiet to use and most options offer many different workouts that are pre-programmed into the performance monitors.

While there are several different types, brands, and quality levels of magnetic resistance rowing machines on the market, they all function based on the same principle, but the adjustments can vary from machine to machine.

The way a magnetic resistance rowing machine works is that when a person works out on one, they are moving a magnet closer then farther away from a metal flywheel. This motion causes what is referred to as “eddy currents” to be released by the magnet as it interacts with the flywheel which causes it to slow down.

When the magnet is moved closer to the flywheel, the more these currents will slow it down. In other words, the closer the magnetic field gets to the flywheel, the more resistance that is created for the user of the machine. The farther away the magnet is from the flywheel, the lesser the resistance will become for the person using the machine.

This is one of the main differences between a magnetic resistance rowing machine and an air or flywheel rowing machine because when it comes to a magnetic rower, the only way to increase the resistance is to increase the resistance level. With an air rowing machine, the faster the person moves, the more resistance there will be in the rower.

On a magnetic rower, the resistance is controlled when the person using the machine either turns a dial to a different setting or presses a button on the monitor, depending on the set up of the rowing machine.

Similar to an air rower, the magnetic resistance rowers can be very basic or have many bells and whistles. Some have preset workout programs ready to go for the user along with games and data points. Many people who work out on rowing machines appreciate being able to use the preset workout programs.

For example, on some magnetic rowing machines, there is a setting that will offer a mountain workout which allows the user to row while the monitor slowly increases the resistance like when you are going up a mountain then slows it down to mimic coming down the mountain.

One of the downfalls of the monitors on a magnetic rowing machine is that many of them do not record and keep the data of a person’s workouts as accurately as other rowers do, including air rowing machines. The data is accurate enough for personal use but is not easily compared to other users around the world.

Another feature of magnetic rowing machines is the fact that they are pretty much silent which makes it easier for the user to listen to music, a podcast, audiobook, or watch television while rowing. A downside is that a magnetic rower is heavier because of the flywheels so it may be harder to move to another location. Another pitfall is that some magnetic rowers need to be plugged into an outlet to work.

Overall, the magnetic resistance rowing machine offers the person using it a great and fun cardio workout while also exercising many muscle groups.

The Water Rower

SNODE Water Rowing Machine Water Resistance Rower Training Exercise Equipment LCD Digital Monitor and Transport Wheels Home Gym Equipment
Click image for more info

For those who participate in actual outdoor rowing, the Water Rower is an ideal option when working out indoors. The Water Rower boasts a Water Flywheel that is patented to use with this type of rower and is created to imitate the same movement as moving a boat through the water.

Much like rowing across a lake or down a river, the Water Rower’s flywheel is moved by the movement of the user. Very similar to a rowboat, when water moves past the tank of the Water Rower, more resistance is created. While the rower itself is pretty quiet, you do receive the wonderful sound effects of water swishing in the tank of this very unique rowing machine.

You can purchase a Water Rower that has been constructed with a wooden frame or a metal one and the mechanical vibrations are dampened. People who use the Water Row say it offers a smooth exercise experience with quiet action and such as beautiful design, it can become part of the décor in any room in your house instead of being hidden away.

It is touted as being the best of all four types of rowing machines for people with back issues or knee problems while they are still provided the opportunity to work out on a great piece of equipment at home or in the gym.


No matter which rowing machine you choose to work out with, you will be increasing your cardiovascular health and strengthening muscles throughout your body. You can build your heart health while increasing your aerobic fitness with any of these types of rowing machines.

↓ Next Post Below

CLICK HERE for Free Design SoftwareTry our free 3D home/room design software.

HAUS Naturals Stainless Steel Cleaner

Two-Story 7-Bedroom European Home with a Wide Footprint (Floor Plan)

A glass of orange juice that fell on the carpet.

How to Get Juice Out of Carpet: Orange, Grape, Apple, Cranberry, Carrot