Indoor rowing machines have come a long way and there are now a variety of sleek, highly-refined pieces of exercise equipment ready to get your cardio health on the upswing. Having a rower right there in your home can really be the push you need to get your muscles moving in a challenging yet comfortable way. Overall, rowing machines provide an outstanding way to increase fitness by burning calories and building muscle in a safe, low-impact way.
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.