When you make the decision to buy a rowing machine, it isn’t just an investment in your health and your commitment to exercise; it is an investment of your hard-earned money, too. Before you shell out big bucks for a machine, it is important to know what you are looking for when purchasing.

Set a visual sequence of the muscles of the training on a rowing machine

The more you know about rowing machines, the more likely you’ll be to purchase a machine that will work for your needs, and thus, the more likely you’ll be to use the machine for exercise, instead of as a de-facto clothing catcher. Before you purchase be sure you ask yourself these questions

What type of experience am I looking for? Are you looking for a rowing machine that offers the realistic feel of rowing, or are you simply looking for a fun and effective way to exercise. If the answer is the latter, you are best suited for one of the air or water models on the market.

While they are pricier they offer a more realistic rowing experience. If your answer is the former, then a lower-end machine might be perfectly suited to your needs.

What are my rowing goals? If you are someone who is just looking for a fun and relatively stress-free way to exercise, a lower end model of rowing machine will likely be fine for your needs. While you often do get what you pay for when it comes to exercise equipment, you’ll need to remember that sometimes your needs and expectations will not warrant a health club-grade machine, and there is nothing wrong with that.

If you are looking to expand your skills and take rowing seriously, you might want to look at a higher end model. Even if you are a novice now, if your goal is to become a rower, then you’ll grow into a higher-end machine. It is better to buy a more expensive machine and grow into it, than to discard a low-end option when your skills have outgrown its capacity.

How much space do I have to dedicate to the machine? This is an important question to ask yourself, as it is very easy to find yourself with a machine far too large for the space you have available. If you are living in a studio apartment, you are best suited for a foldable machine.

These machines can be folded up and put away when not in use. If you happen to have a dedicated workout space, a model that doesn’t fold away might be a completely acceptable option. Just remember to be honest with yourself about the space commitment you are willing to make to such a machine.

Machine Types:

Rowing machines come in several different types, and mechanisms of action. Not all types are created equally, and the type of machine you pick will be largely based on your skill level, intentions and fitness goals. Currently you can choose from hydraulic, magnetic, air and water rowing machines.

Hydraulic:

Hydraulic rowing machines utilize hydraulic cylinders to move the rowing machine. Each cylinder is attached to the handles. As you move, it creates the rowing action. There are pros and cons to this type of machine. First and foremost, hydraulic machines are most commonly foldable and are great for those who have limited space to dedicate to a rowing machine. Additionally, they are fairly common and usually they are economically priced.

While there are some pros to the hydraulic system, there are significant drawbacks, too. Hydraulic rowing machines are limited in their movement, and thus, they create a much poorer rowing action than other machine types. They also commonly have fixed seats which make it impossible to utilize the leg drive that is common in the actual rowing experience

Magnetic:

Magnetic rowing machines use magnets to control resistance and movement. They, much like the hydraulic systems have the distinct advantage of being foldable and easily put away when not in use. They also allow for more realistic hand movements. The magnets do not restrict the movement a rower can make, and, thus create a much more realistic experience than their hydraulic cousins.

While there are pros, the magnetic systems have drawbacks, too. The resistance on these models is set, and the ability to alter that resistance does not exist on most models. If you are planning to grow with your machine, you may find you’ll outgrow a magnetic option.

Air:

Air systems offer a truly realistic rowing experience. The air systems utilize a flywheel and damper to alter resistance based on your strokes and performance. They happen to be the choice of professional rowers, as well, so you can easily grow with these machines and likely won’t need to replace them.

With that being said, air machines are among the most expensive type of rowing machines on the market, and some may find them cost prohibitive. If your goal is to grow into an expert rower, than an air machine is a solid investment, but if you are simply trying out rowing as part of a fitness regime, it probably isn’t a necessary purchase, and a hydraulic or magnetic system will work just fine.

Water:

Water systems are the least common type of systems, and can be rather expensive, however, they offer a realistic rowing experience, similar to that of air systems.

They utilize a paddle in a drum of water to simulate the rowing experience on the open water. The drums are typically made of polyurethane and resistant to cracking or spilling.