A rowing workout can produce sustainable results without negatively impacting muscles and joints. With a reported average of five hundred to a thousand calories burned per workout, rowing machines are the hottest new fitness trend in the industry. Because of this, manufacturers are working overtime to produce a wide variety of styles and types of row machines, all of which can offer an effective low-impact total body workout. With so many choices of models, it can be confusing for beginners to choose the right type. Most consumers automatically choose the cheapest rower, however, cheaper models often feature piston resistance, which is considered the worst type of technology because the workouts are uncomfortable and the machine itself is often poorly designed.
As with any fitness activity, it’s important to exercise with proper technique, however. The big muscles in the legs are where most of the workout action should be. Injury to the lower back can occur from bending too far forward in the row. It’s best to maintain a upright 90 degree angle to the rowing machine’s seat and slider bar. Using the legs for the motion rather than relying as heavily on the back or arms can help reduce the chance of muscle pulls or other related injuries. Always check with a physician before starting any new fitness regimen.
In the rowing machine category, there are a lot of models to chose from. They range in price from under $100 to well over $1500. As you can imagine, you’re getting a different type of row machine at those ends of the spectrum, but within that variety there’s something for everyone. To help guide you, we’ve listed our favorite row machine models and brands by price below:
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.