Which Type of Rowing Machine is Best For Your Home Workout?

If you are strapped for time then adding gym equipment to your home can be a way to get in a quick workout anytime of the day. But, it can be a big expense so it’s important to make sure you make a confident purchase. The only way to do that is by doing your research. Weigh the pros and cons of the equipment before you pick a model. Today I’m going to look at different rowing machine options. I’m in the market so hopefully this will help.

Here is something to consider when purchasing a rowing machine. The first thing to think through is why you are purchasing a machine? Is it because you are trying to lose weight quickly or is it more to change your lifestyle? Cheaper models could break more easily so if you planned on using it for years that’s something you may want to keep in mind.

Why Buy A Rowing Machine For Your Home


  • It’s far more convenient than making a trek to the gym
  • You can use any time of the day
  • Will help you lose weight
  • Highly recommended for home use
  • Compact so it doesn’t take up a ton of space

 Why Rowing Machine Workouts Are Great for Getting and Staying in Shape

Muscles Targeted:

  • Rowing motions targets the lower back and core
  • Pushing off with the thighs targets calves, shoulders and quads
  • Pulling handle towards your chest targets biceps and back
  • Rowing promotes weigh loss

Types of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines work differently from bikes, stair climbers and treadmills. It works both your upper body and your lower body giving you the full body workout. There are many different types of rowing machines, so I put together this quick guide will help you understand the differences. Here is a list of the many rowing machines available to you: 

  • Air Resistant
  • Water Resistant
  • Piston Resistant
  • Magnetic Resistant

Air Resistant Rowing Machine

Built with a large flywheel this wheel is home to a blade. When you pull the rower handle you move the fan. It creates wind resistance, which also brings about a breeze. The harder you work the more resistance is created. Depending on the model you may be able to adjust the flywheel, which alters the resistance.

The difference between an air resistant model and any others is it provides you with a smoother, natural and continuous motion.

Benefits of Air Resistant Rowers:

  • Smooth continuous motion
  • Durable and comfortable
  • Full body workout with emphasis on arms
  • Flywheel provides less noise

These are great machines and are used widely by trainers and rehabilitation clinics all over the world. The quality is dependent on the cost of the machine. It’s well known that if you buy a cheap machine, it will likely last a few years and require maintenance. Prices range between $300-1000.

Water Resistant Rowing Machine

A water resistant rower is perfect for someone who likes to participate in outdoor rowing. These machines are on the higher end of the market, but they are great because they are made to mimic the dynamics of a boat moving through water. The flywheel inside gets resistance when it overcomes the drag as water moves past the tank.

Because the rower needs water it can make the equipment heavy and it won’t be something you want to move around a lot. They are still however one of the more popular options.

Benefits of Water Resistant Rowers:

  • Virtually silent when in use
  • Mimics outdoor rowing

Water resistant rowers are built to mimic outdoor rowing so these aren’t cheap models, but they are also high in quality and will last a long time, plus they look super cool. A water resistance rower will likely cost close to $1000 plus.

Piston Resistant Rowing Machine

The piston resistance rower has hydraulic pistons that connect to the handlebars. You can manually adjust the resistance of those pistons on most models. Tension comes from the amount of air compressed in the piston.

Due to the fact that they are low cost and generally made differently, it’s difficult to get a natural rowing motion from them. Difficulty comes in rowing a straight line with the machine. They are lower in cost however and can fit in small spaces if those are important features.

Benefits of Piston Resistant Rowers:

  • Most affordable of the different rowers
  • Flexible for storage because they fold up
  • Usually smaller in size if you have small areas to workout in

Due to the fact that they are a lower quality product you can get them for very reasonable prices. You can easily get one for a few hundred dollars, and typically not more than $400.

Magnetic Resistant Rowing Machine

Magnetic resistance rowers use electromagnets to provide resistance. The electromagnets slow down the flywheel to make the workout harder for you. The settings can be adjustable if needed on most models.

One of the main differences with magnetic rowers is that it’s virtually silent throughout your workout. They also have a compact design so it would be ideal for someone with limited space in the home. Many of the machines in this category fold up for easy storage, but they can be heavy so they can’t be picked up and moved to different locations.

Benefits of Magnetic Resistant Rowers:

  • Silent when in use
  • Great for limited space
  • Smooth rowing strokes

The quality of the equipment is reasonable despite the fact that they aren’t portable units. The price ranges between $400-600 for a good magnetic rower.

Decide What Is Right For You

Choosing a rower can be a hard decision and one that you should make confidently. It’s important to start with how much space you have for a rower and the amount that you would like to spend. From there you can determine whether you want a rower that mimics the outdoors or not.

Regardless of the rowing machine you choose, rowing machines in general are a great choice for a home unit. Not only do they help you with losing weight and work your muscles aerobically they also help you build a healthy heart.