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.
Function plays a large role in defining good design. When designers look at an object, they don't just consider its aesthetic appearance; they should also challenge it to be more versatile, to respond to the user's need, or to achieve its purpose more elegantly. Good design has the capacity to solve problems that sometimes we didn't even know we had. This is one of the ways design touches and enriches our everyday life.
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.
There are various air rower or water rower techniques, but the most basic one is by starting at the back stroke, the knees should almost be completely straight prior to squeezing the shoulder blades together. Then you pull its handle to the sternum. The back of your body should naturally stay in its arched position when doing the whole movement. Do not forget to take a record of the distance you have made after every session. Some people even take it as far as uploading their results online and see how they are ranked from other people who are also doing the same. You clean learn more about rowing machine technique on this page.

Award Winning Design - The WaterRower has been designed to set it apart from other fitness equipment, featuring an attention to detail unseen in other exercise equipment. Refined Design - The WaterRower has been designed to set it apart from other fitness equipment, featuring an attention to design refinement unseen in other exercise equipment. Hand Crafting - WaterRower’s wooden models are handcrafted from a selection of the world’s finest hard woods (Ash, Cherry, Walnut, Beech and Oak).. Each model is hand finished and coated with Danish oil giving it a deep penetrating Luster. Sustainable & Eco-Friendly - All WaterRower's wooden models are crafted from the finest Appalachian hardwoods sourced only from replenishable forests.

Performance is meaningless if you can’t or don’t want to use the equipment, and that’s why the Wave Water rower was built for comfort and convenience. With a wide, molded seat to accommodate users of all sizes and a padded, textured rowing handle, you can build your strength and endurance in ease. When setting up the rower, the leveling endcaps with a dial ensure stability. After your workout, storing your Wave Water rower is easy – just fold the frame and roll the rower into a closet or corner.
The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is handcrafted in solid ash wood, stained Honey Oak, and finished with Danish oil. Wood is an excellent material for this application due to its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's smooth, quiet operation. The Natural, as with all WaterRowers, features patented WaterFlywheel technology, unrivaled in its replication of the resistance felt in on the water rowing.
The model E’s seat stands 6 inches higher. And while the model D’s monitor rests on an adjustable arm, the E’s sits on unbending metal. These few technical differences do nothing to impact ride feel. We recommend the $200-cheaper model D as the best buy, but the Concept 2 E will appeal to anyone who values a higher seat and more solid construction.
The water flywheel is comprised of two paddles encased in an enclosed tank of water. As you pull the cable, the paddles move through the water creating resistance. The beauty of this machine is it uses the mass/density of water. The paddles create the drag, so the harder you pull, the more resistance increases. Think about moving your hands through water. The faster you go, the more dense water feels. The slower you go, the less you feel the resistance. And this type of resistance is excellent for your joints. Click here to read the full review.
I was introduced to this rower when I joined Orange Theory Fitness four months ago. Since I started using the rower during my OTF sessions I have grown to love the overall workout this thing gives me. In fact, I loved it so much that I purchased the Waterrower Club for my home gym. The overall quality and construction is superb and I'm very satisfied with my purchase. I would highly recommend over any other home gym equipment available. One of the best features is how its so easy to stand up and move out of the way for storage. You can't do that with any treadmill or elliptical. This thing is amazing and worth every penny. Assembly was straightforward and took about 30-45 minutes. Solid, quality construction.
This twenty minutes duration technique is designed to max your muscles out every interval, and at the same time the recovery periods assist in increasing the efficiency with the fat burning routine. Once you have prepared your rowing machine, set its resistance to four. Perform sets of ten, fifteen and twenty power strokes by pulling to handle towards the torso of your body, like doing a rowing motion. Do this motion as fast as your body permits you to. Separate your power strokes at sixty seconds, putting in only fifty percent the effort you did before this. Repeat this cycle until you have fully rowed for a total of twenty minutes.

Water rowers feature a tank that is actually filled with water as a means for resistance. As you increase the pace of rowing, the resistance naturally increases as well. This means that you can set your own pace and resistance in a single motion. The same is true for air rowers. Air rowers use a fan or flywheel to create resistance, and you have control over the intensity of the workout due to the fact that the air resistance depends on your pace. Most water and air rowers come equipped with -- or at least have as an option -- monitors that track various functions such as distance, strokes, strokes per minute and calories burned.


Unlike its WaterRower Natural cousin, the WaterRower Club is designed for high-traffic areas, such as commercial gyms, studios, and rehabilitation clinics. Its dual black rails have been styled to prevent scuffing, while the other wood components are finished in an attractive rosewood, which is more resistant to soiling than the Natural model. Other details include four corner wheels on the rails that increase seat stability and reduce the amount of sweat buildup; a frame that flips upright for handy storage; and a weight capacity of up to 1,000 pounds. The WaterRower Club measures 84 by 21 by 22 inches (W x H x D), weighs 117 pounds (with water), and carries a one-year warranty on the frame and components (WaterRower will upgrade the warranty to five years on the frame and three years on the components with the completion of a registration form).

The WaterRower Classic is handcrafted from solid American Black Walnut wood, finished with danish oil. The WaterRower's patented WaterFlywheel has been specifically designed to emulate the dynamics of a boat moving though water and is unsurpassed in its simulation of the physical and physiological benefits of rowing. WaterRower will not provide support or documentation for any product transported outside of the original country of purchase
Noise level is another large factor that tips the scale more towards water rowers. Air rowers make a fairly loud “whooshing” noise every stroke, which makes them bad for people who like watching TV, have sleeping children, live in apartments, or like working out early in the AM. Water rowers do make some noise but the splashing of water in the tank is a lot quieter and more soothing than the fan noise produced by air rowers.

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The Classic Rowing Machine is designed is extremely easy to use. Additionally, it has a lot of comfort features in its design. It has an ergonomically shaped handle and padded heel rests that accommodate nearly everyone. Everything on the machine can be adjusted quickly. Because there are no movement parts, maintenance is minimal. Even the computer has a lot of one button operations, so the minute you have the rower assembled, you can get to work.
The Challenge AR has the capability to allow the rower to control and adjust the resistance from “Feather light” to “Olympic sprint” delivering a silky smooth resistance to the user’s effort and instantaneous response to input with no “flat sport”.  With water resistance being the most accurate manner in which to simulate actual outdoor rowing, the Challenge AR provides a smooth and consistent sensation throughout the range of motion of the exercise experience.  
Rowing is primarily a cardio workout, but it’s also more than that. Your heart rate is absolutely going to be climbing, but unlike a jog in the park, you might also be sore the next day. The rower requires you use your legs more than anything, and as we know, your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings are the biggest, most powerful muscles in your body. But you’re also pulling with your arms, shoulders, abs and engaging your back. That said, you’re not pulling as hard as you might with, say, a seated cable row machine at the gym. You don’t want to hurt your back, but you can engage them and this will help you get those muscles toned.
1.) I keep reading about cracks and leaks that develop in the water tank. WaterRower even offers a tank repair kit for this very issue. It seems to me that this is a design flaw that they refuse to address, instead offering a fix for when it eventually occurs. Have you seen these tanks to eventually leak? I’m surprised they haven’t tried a one-piece tank.
This elegant rowing machine builds strength and stamina by closely simulating a real world rowing experience. Its patented Waterflywheel, which moves through actual water, provides a smooth stroke that exercises 84% of your muscle mass evenly and prevents injuries. When not in use, the WaterRower can be stored vertically against a wall. Made in the USA from ethically sourced walnut wood. Assembly required.
The WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine is a work of art. But before you buy one just to hang it on the wall, the more important feature of course is that this rowing machine is a high-quality, durable, and effective piece of exercise equipment that will help you get in top fitness with ease and low-impact comfort. With a user weight capacity of 1,000 lbs, WaterRower has built the Classic Rowing Machine to take everything you can throw at it. No matter how intense your workouts are, you’re not going to hurt this machine. And it accommodates everyone from beginner rowers to experienced die-hards.
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The WaterRower Classic is hand crafted in solid American Black Walnut. Like all woods, Black Walnut may vary in color from a rich brown to purple-black. Each machine has been hand finished with three coats of Danish Oil giving a deep lustre an warmth to the wood. 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. Black Walnut, like all woods used in WaterRower construction, is a premium hardwood with incredible longevity and dimensional stability. For reasons of ecology, all our woods are harvested from replenishable forests.

Of the four types of rowing machines or ergometers, water rowers are best at reproducing the sensation of on-water rowing. Their stroke cycles hold true to the dynamics of real paddling, and each stroke is punctuated with a splash! Water rowers have sliding seats to allow full-body cardiovascular workouts. (With cheaper rowing machines, in contrast, the seats don’t move.) These fitness machines tend to feature high quality parts and can last a lifetime.

The model E’s seat stands 6 inches higher. And while the model D’s monitor rests on an adjustable arm, the E’s sits on unbending metal. These few technical differences do nothing to impact ride feel. We recommend the $200-cheaper model D as the best buy, but the Concept 2 E will appeal to anyone who values a higher seat and more solid construction.
The reason I'm writing now, two years after purchase, is, I broke one of the wheels. I proceeded to order the wrong replacement, so I emailed them pictures to ask for the right parts. They wrote back asking for the serial number to get the right unit AND to see if it was under warranty. (Hadn't even occurred to me.) Turns out it was, they're sending me the wheels, they're refunding me for the wrong part, AND included a link for the Puri-Tabs which I didn't know they provide for the life of the ROWER! They're also replacing all eight wheels even though there's only one broken one.
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As previously discussed, the rowing machine’s big advantage is that it provides more than just a cardio workout. It can definitely help you build muscle and lose weight. Compared to a treadmill, the rowing machine works most of your body. It will really hit your shoulders, core, quads, hamstrings, glutes, arms and back effectively while being low impact thus reducing the stress on your joints. Bigger muscles need more energy and will burn fat to get it, which of course leads to healthy weight loss.
In addition to its natural, fluid resistance, the Elite Wave Water Rowing Machine features many performance upgrades that push you to row harder, faster and longer. When mounting the rower, you will immediately notice the ease and customization of the footplates and straps. The footplates, which accommodate a wide range of foot sizes with their adjustable length, feature a heel strap that secures the feet while also allowing the heel to rise higher for a wider range of motion. There are also quick-adjust straps with finger loops so you can quickly secure your feet – even in the middle of the workout. Once you push, extend and bend, the seat glides atop the aluminum rowing beam, providing a smoother workout.
Bring the experience and benefits of rowing on water with this professionally-built Stamina water rower machine. The incorporated water resistance in this exercise machine offers smoother and more consistent rowing but more importantly, just like rowing in an actual body of water, this workout machine is built to provide infinite resistance--harder and faster rowing motions cause increased resistance. To tailor the resistance according to your fitness goals, simply increase or decrease water level using the siphon included in the package. Moreover, the steel frame construction and rowing beam ensure durability for years while the sturdy, pivoting footplates with straps offer comfort and security. To help you keep track of your fitness progress, this home gym machine is also equipped with a multi-function monitor that tracks total strokes, strokes per minute, distance, time, and calories burned. Other features include: wide molded seat, textured and padded handles for better and comfort
 Bring the unparalleled full-body workout of on-the-water rowing home with the premium design and feel of the XTERRA Fitness ERG600W Water Rower. The full body rhythmic nature of rowing makes it wonderfully efficient at burning calories while also developing flexibility and strength. Plus, the "zen-like" water movement you hear from the ERG600W multi-bladed impeller can be soothing and meditative. The large and easy to read 5.5" LCD console with height and angle adjustment includes motivating programmable modes to keep you involved, inspired, and reaching your goals.
On a rowing machine, you don’t want to be wearing clothes that are too baggy as the fabric can get caught between the seat and the beam it slides on.  It’s not a disaster if that happens, but it can get annoying if your shorts keep getting caught there while you’re trying to get a serious workout.   It’s better to wear shorter, tighter-fitting shorts (nothing ridiculous), but just enough to ensure it doesn’t the material doesn’t hang down.

The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is handcrafted in solid ash wood, stained Honey Oak, and finished with Danish oil. Wood is an excellent material for this application due to its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's smooth, quiet operation. The Natural, as with all WaterRowers, features patented WaterFlywheel technology, unrivaled in its replication of the resistance felt in on the water rowing.

John Duke, creator of the WaterRower, was inspired to try his hand at invention while working at a subsidiary for U.S. Steel. He wanted to make an indoor machine that felt as much like real rowing as possible, with a focus on aesthetics. It took him two years to get the design right, moving past failed ideas such as a flipper in the tank instead of a clutch. What began as a series of doodles at his desk turned into a sculptural piece of exercise equipment that upends expectations in two ways: by bringing water indoors, and by looking elegant and artful when stored.


There is some minor maintenance. Because it's made out of wood, which can expand and contract, the bolts need tightening every few months or so. It's easy and takes only a couple of minutes. That, and putting in a fresh water purification tablet every six to twelve months, are about it for regular maintenance. The only problem I've had with the rower (the reason for 4 stars instead of 5) was a squeak that developed after about 6 weeks. It took me some time to determine the source of the squeak, which was a metal bracket connecting the footrest board to the horizontal boards above the drum. I had to partially disassemble the top section and tighten four bolts, but that fixed the problem and it's been quiet ever since.
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