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Different Types of Rowing Machines

    People using rowing machines in fitness studio

    We all have a vision in life, but to transform that vision into a reality, we need all the help that we can get. It’s the right combination of determination and resources that can help us achieve the goals we have in mind. The same rings true for the plans you have made for your fitness regime.

    Your fitness goals may just remain a dream if you don’t get the required help. If you are looking for a game-changer, then you are in the right place. Whether it is weight loss, increasing stamina, or building up your muscles, your fitness goals are achievable with the help of rowers.

    Indoor rowing machines help you work out several of the major muscle groups, hence enabling you to develop your upper and lower body. The serious aerobic full body workout gets your heart pumping, and the adjustable resistance is all you need to feel the intensity of the exercise. It helps release endorphins to improve your mood and the quality of sleep that you get. So if you are looking for a way to achieve your fitness goals effectively, you need one for home.

    It’s crucial to figure out which type of rowing machine provides the most benefits for you.

    To understand this, it’s important to know about the different resistance types. By exploring the available options, it’ll be easier to pick out the best type of indoor rowing machine for home use.

    So let’s get started and get you acquainted with the different types that’ll help you achieve your fitness goals.

    1. Hydraulic Rowing Machine – The Cheap & Compact

    hydraulic piston rowers

    Hydraulic piston (cylinder)


    If you are looking for a cheap indoor rower, then this is the best option for you. They are compact sized pieces of fitness equipment that don’t require much area and thus can be stored easily. This kind of rowing equipment uses compressed air or fluid to create tension. These are the low-cost alternatives to the upgraded models of today but provide the same basic benefits.

    One thing that does set them apart from the rest is the rowing technique used. It doesn’t allow users to pull in a straight line. This drawback means the user isn’t able to take the natural rowing position and so the synchronized movement of the legs and arms isn’t achieved.

    Interested in this type? – More details on compact rowing machines for home.


    • Affordable (under $200)
    • Easy storage
    • Small size
    • Quiet


    • No straight line pulling.
    • Not close to the real stroke.
    • Lack of adjustments because of the hydraulic piston.

    For whom is this model suitable for?

    Beginners or for people who want to move more at home. It is also a good choice if you are on a budget. The hydraulic resistance is not suitable for an advanced level of training, but still far better than nothing.

    2. Air Resistance Rowing Machine – Middle Path

    flywheel rowing machines

    Air flywheel rowing


    As the name specifies, the machine gets its resistance from the air. A spinning fan flywheel is used for the job. As the user pulls the handle, the flywheel spins and creates wind. The harder you pull the handle, the more wind you create in the flywheel. This means the resistance level depends on how hard and fast you pull the handle. With the resistance in the control of the user, it’s easier to use and adjust it to the needs of your workout regime. The air rowing machine allows you to slow down and speed up without stopping to reset the settings.

    To provide a smooth stroke, the air rower has a more extended seat rail. Unfortunately, this also means that this type requires a larger floor space. Since air is used to create resistance, it creates some noise in the process. The whooshing sound produced by the spinning flywheel can be a bit too much, especially if you work out without any music. If you are looking for a total body workout, this really is the best buy for you.

    Which is the best rated of this type? – Concept2 Model D is the winner brand!


    • Versatile workouts
    • Good resistance
    • Long-range of motion
    • For low budget
    • All sorts of workout information are available (calories burned, distance, speed, etc.)


    • Requires space and storage
    • Noisy

    Is it for you?

    Well, if noise is not essential for you, then this type is suitable for everyone, from beginner to advanced workout.

    3. Water Rowers – The best

    water rowers

    Water resistance


    If you are a rowing enthusiast and want to participate in outdoor rowing, you need the indoor Water Rower in your home. In this resistance type of rower, a tank of water is used to create resistance. The harder you pull, the faster the paddles spin. So the only way to set the level of resistance is to maintain the intensity of the pull.

    The water resistance equipment has a large footprint because of the long seat rail, so you’ll need an open area for it. The water tank makes it quite heavy, too, so transporting it will be a hassle. If you need to adjust the rowing experience, you just have to manage the water level in the tank. All that water splashing around in the tank is bound to make lots of noise, but it’s still not as loud as the air rowers.


    • Beautiful design (ash wood)
    • Perfect smooth resistance
    • Water flywheel = Real rowing experience
    • Proper range of motion
    • Advanced performance monitor (heart rate, distance, strokes per minute, calories burned, time, etc)
    • Massive frame


    • Large footprint
    • Expensive
    • No resistance levels (the more power you put in, the higher the resistance)

    Is WaterRower suitable for you?

    If you are looking for a top-level rower that not only provides excellent workout but looks good, the WaterRower is a product you should check out. The best value item, but you have to pay for it.

    4. Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine – The most silent

    magnetic resistance indoor rowers


    As the name suggests, it uses a magnetic brake system to create resistance. Since there’s no friction involved in the process, this type of rowing machine is virtually silent. The long rail seat means that this machine takes up a fair bit of space. However, the size of it is the same as an air resistance rower.

    The ultimate benefit is that it provides the ease that users require. Magnetic resistance rowers are also known for their smooth stroke motion.

    Interested in this type? – Check out the magnetic rowers here.


    • Silent exercise
    • Versatile thanks to the inbuilt programs.
    • Fair range of motion
    • Easy to use
    • Smooth rowing
    • Easy to switch between resistance levels (adjustable resistance)
    • Good price (typically under 500 dollars)


    • Requires space (large frame)

    Who is it best for?

    Just like the flywheel ones, a magnetic rowing machine is an excellent choice for everyone. If silence is crucial for you, get this instead.

    Final Thoughts

    There’s so much that you stand to gain from this cardio exercise equipment. If you have been finding it challenging to fulfill your fitness goals, this is the ultimate tool that can be of assistance. With the help of the best type of home rowing machine, you can get the perfect summer body and flaunt the results proudly. Give it a try and buy one for your home gym today!


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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