Ergometer rowing machines (colloquially ergs or ergo) simulate the rowing action and provide a means of training on land when waterborne training is restricted, and of measuring rowing fitness. Ergometers do not simulate the lateral balance challenges, the exact resistance of water, or the exact motions of true rowing including the sweep of the oar handles. For that reason ergometer scores are generally not used as the sole selection criterion for crews (colloquially "ergs don't float"), and technique training is limited to the basic body position and movements. However, this action can still allow a comparable workout to those experienced on the water.

The rowing machine itself is unlike any other on the market with its patented water filled flywheel. It is hard to exactly copy the action of a scull on the water, but the mechanics of the flywheel spinning in water comes in a close second on dry land. The fact that the water is 800 times denser than air means that there is no need for any extra resistance or dampening that you will find in normal air rowers. The faster you pull, the more resistance is generated giving it infinite variability. However, if you want to be able to practice rowing with a faster stroke, you will have to reduce the amount of water in the tank unlike an air rower where you just have to adjust the baffle. 

The benefit of a water resistance rower is that it most closely simulates a boat moving through water. Rowing resistance comes from the effect of fluid drag acting on the boat; in other words, resistance increases according to stroke rate. The patented WaterFlywheel emulates this naturally self-paced benefit of rowing. This is a workout with immediate benefits, regardless of your level of experience! Please also note that you can adjust the workout intensity by changing the amount of water in the tank. The more water, the higher the effort level required.

Rowing machines are an excellent and effective way to get exercise and muscle tone, thanks to their sliding seat and repetitive rowing motion, that allows the engagement of almost all major muscle groups, without the need for a lot of gear or a lot of space compared to most workout machines. Long renowned as the perfect aerobic exercise, the WaterRower is unmatched with its ability to burn calories within a perceived level of exertion. Low impact and body weight bearing, the WaterRower is perfect for any user, and each one is built from beautiful, rich wood that is sourced only from sustainably-managed forests where growth exceeds removal by 229%.


No matter the resistance we set or the power we applied, the machine remains sturdy, centered, and even. We amped up the intensity for 2000m sprints and found that the C2 supports consistent effort in a way water resistance can’t. The machine assists in keeping your intensity uniform, because it stores up remaining energy in the spinning flywheel. Comments about the ride feel of both Concept 2s were noticeably brief. As one tester put it, “It’s unremarkable because it’s good,” and leaves you free to focus on the effort you’re putting into your workout.

The benefit of a water resistance rower is that it most closely simulates a boat moving through water. Rowing resistance comes from the effect of fluid drag acting on the boat; in other words, resistance increases according to stroke rate. The patented WaterFlywheel emulates this naturally self-paced benefit of rowing. This is a workout with immediate benefits, regardless of your level of experience! Please also note that you can adjust the workout intensity by changing the amount of water in the tank. The more water, the higher the effort level required.


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There are 4 main rowing machine types that are classed according to its utilized resistance mechanism. Having an exercise workout needs to have resistance against the movement in order to provide to the muscles and the cardiovascular system a good change. This can be provided by the rowing machine whenever you pull its handle and then slide back to the seat. Having low resistance works on the cardiovascular system can make you row fast easily. Having high resistance means that it provides you with the anaerobic session, working with the muscles harder, also having a slow stroke rate because of the harder pull.
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. These days, there’s no need to trek to a gym and pay costly membership fees if you want to get fit and stay healthy. Rowing machines provide a low-impact, full-body workout that targets almost every major muscle group. Once you choose the model that best fits your needs and find a convenient location somewhere in your home, there's nothing left to do but dip your oars. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best rowing machine on Amazon.
THL: Stay a safe distance from vertical surfaces if there are significant waves present in the area. A passing boat or ship may generate big waves that escape your attention until there is no time to escape. An example is the North anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge (but there are special cases, e.g. rough water classes or the OWRC regatta, when there is a fast flood coming through the Golden Gate, and it is useful to be close to the wall since the current is slower there).

We picked the brains of rowing coaches, fitness experts, and physical therapists to learn what features make for an exceptional rower. Based on their input, we searched the market for air and water resistance rowing machines, then tested the best for ride feel and design. We found one model of each type — air resistance and water resistance — that felt truly superior to the others.


Wood has been chosen due to its marvellous engineering properties, primary amongst these is its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's quietness and smoothness of use. The WaterRower's patented WaterFlywheel has been designed to emulate the exact dynamics as a boat moving through water; the objective of the exercise of rowing.
If you’re interested in using a rowing machine for focused training — whether for outdoor rowing, an indoor competition, or as part of a larger fitness program — you’ll want air resistance. If you’re drawn to rowers for the enjoyability (alongside the full-body, cardio-plus-strength training efficacy) of a rowing workout, consider a machine with water resistance.
Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke. 
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