A rowing machine can be a terrific investment because unlike some exercise machines that only work certain muscle groups, an indoor rower will engage your arms, shoulders, back, leg and abdominal muscles and give you a full-body workout, whilst also burning several hundred calories at the same time.
Therefore this makes them ideal for toning, fitness and weight loss, and one of the major benefits of these machines is that they are easy on the joints, which makes them suitable for men and women of all ages.
A full guide to the best rowing machines can be found here. However before you rush out and buy one of these machines for your home, there are certain things you should take into consideration, which are as follows:
Type Of Resistance
One of the biggest factors that you should take into consideration is the type of resistance that is used because this can dramatically effect both the feel and quality of your workout.
There are basically four different types of resistance – hydraulic, air, magnetic and water – and these are all discussed below:
The hydraulic resistance rowers are typically the cheapest entry-level rowing machines and are usually small, compact machines that have a hydraulic cylinder underneath the sliding rail. These ones are not generally the best quality and are prone to wear and tear when used regularly. They can also be a little awkward if you have to turn them upside down in order to change the resistance, which is what I had to do when I first bought one of these rowers.
Rowing machines that use air or wind resistance can be a little noisy, but they do provide you with a really smooth and intuitive workout, with many of the best ones having a responsive resistance system that adjusts the resistance based on the speed and intensity of your rowing action.
Unlike many of the machines that use air resistance, the magnetic rowers generally tend to have fixed resistance levels that you can change manually using a resistance lever or electronically using the LCD console. These ones are generally very quiet and offer a smooth and comfortable workout, which is why they can also be quite expensive.
If you have ever seen House of Cards on Netflix, you may well have seen Kevin Spacey’s character using a Water Rower, which is an example of a rowing machine that uses water resistance to control the intensity of your workout. These ones have a water tank at the front with blades inside that creates a realistic whooshing sound each time you row, and are very responsive because they respond to your every stroke.
Even the cheapest of models tend to come with an LCD display of some type, but it’s worth pointing out that some will be quite small and will only display a few key indicators, whilst others will be a lot larger and easier to read, and will display lots of different readouts so that you can analyze every aspect of your workout. You will also find that some of the better ones will also have backlit displays, which makes them a lot easier to read.
Workout Programs / Performance Data
Following on from the last point, if you are someone who likes to monitor your performance closely, you might want to buy one that has some kind of data export facility, or the ability to connect to a fitness app, for example. You might also want to buy one that offers a number of different workout programs if you want to vary your workouts and continue to challenge yourself.
If you are young and mobile, then the height of the actual seat isn’t really too much of an issue. However if you do have any kind of mobility problems, or have dodgy knees, for example, you might want to buy one that is slightly higher off the ground because many of them tend to be quite close to the floor, and are therefore harder to get on and off. You might also want to check out the design of the seat as well because some will be more padded than others.
Size / Footprint
As you might expect, many of the cheaper rowing machines are fairly light and compact and can often be folded away, whilst some of the top-end machines can take up a lot more room and cannot always be folded away when not being used. So this is one other factor to bear in mind, and you should also remember that you need to add a little bit extra on to the quoted product dimensions because the actual space that you will need when working out will always be higher than these dimensions.
Weight Limit / Build Quality
If you weigh less than 250 lbs, then you should be able to use most indoor rowing machines without any problems, but if you are heavily overweight or are just very large and muscular, you may exceed the upper weight limit for some of the small-medium sized rowing machines. So it’s always a good idea to check the weight restrictions before buying one of these exercise machines.
Unfortunately there is always a chance that your chosen rowing machine will break down after several months or years of regular use, or will simply succumb to wear and tear. Therefore it is always a good idea to check the guarantee period because this can vary quite a lot from one machine to another.