Rowing machines were first used in Archaic Greece. Chabrias, an Athenian military general in 4th Century B.C., invented wooden rowing simulators for his inexperienced oarsmen. This enabled them to learn technique and timing before stepping foot on actual water crafts. And it must have worked — Chabrias successfully led numerous naval attacks against the Spartans.

If you’re on the hunt for a rowing machine for home fitness, keep in mind that there are many different styles and features that you’re going to want to consider before choosing. As always, high quality comes with a price, but there are great, reliable rowers at lower prices as well. We’ll do our best to break down all the things you need to know below.  And we have included our top rower picks to help you find the best rowing machine for your needs.
Most people who are new to the sport of rowing have difficulty achieving low strokes rates while trying to obtain their desired intensity – there are many comments such as “it does not feel hard enough?” or “how can I make it harder?” Rowing is about ratio and rhythm and you need to focus on a long stroke length and a powerful drive phase (push with the legs and pull with the arms). Give yourself time to learn this, it can take a few weeks before you start to feel the intensity at low stroke rates.
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Fitness experts as well as health professionals agree that rowing machines provide one of the best workouts possible. Exercising on a rower will allow you to target the great majority of your muscle groups and give them as hard and challenging a workout as you feel like giving them. On the better rowing machine models, you’ll be able to track your progress and see how your splits are improving.
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 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.
As I mentioned, the rowing experience with the WaterRower is amazing. I bought the rower for myself, but my wife was curious and decided to try it out. She loves it, and now rows almost daily. We have a treadmill that neither of us has used since we started rowing - the WaterRower is a much better workout and much more enjoyable at the same time. It's easy to adjust the intensity, pace and duration of your exercise. There is nothing to change on the rower (* see note below), you just row harder or faster, adjust how far you lean forward and back during your stroke. The WaterRower will keep up with you as your fitness increases, all you need to do is keep throwing more and more at it.
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.

Most people who are new to the sport of rowing have difficulty achieving low strokes rates while trying to obtain their desired intensity – there are many comments such as “it does not feel hard enough?” or “how can I make it harder?” Rowing is about ratio and rhythm and you need to focus on a long stroke length and a powerful drive phase (push with the legs and pull with the arms). Give yourself time to learn this, it can take a few weeks before you start to feel the intensity at low stroke rates.


The main advantages of the water rower are that it has quiet operation; there is only little maintenance to do, the water only needs to be changed occasionally; many users love the whooshing sound of water in the tank; and its consistently smooth resistance at every stroke. Two disadvantages of this machine are it costs a lot than the air rower; and it tends to be larger in size compared to the other rowing machines.
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.
A 125-pound person moving at an average pace for 30 minutes on a treadmill will burn roughly 250 calories. However, they aren’t able to take advantage of this after-burn effect. The same person rowing vigorously will burn around to 250 calories but will have less stress placed upon their joints and continue to burn calories after the workout has ended. Rowing machines have been shown to burn on average 800 calories an hour if you work harder and are slightly heavier.
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.
Con's: Super bummed that for $1160 they couldn't include an internal ANT+ transponder and Heart Rate strap(sub $100 package). The foot straps are crap! Within the first 1000m of moderate rowing they loosen to the point of being able to pull foot out on Recovery of stroke(Yes, even with ball of foot down). I really wish the WaterCoach F.I.T. software for the S4 Monitor was macOS compatible. It'd be nice to able to customer program workouts on my MacBook Pro or iMac.

The WaterRower Club is hand crafted in solid Ash and stained for color. The WaterRower Club has been designed for High Traffic Areas such as Commercial Gyms, Studios, Rehabilitation Clinics, etc. Its Black Rails have been styled to prevent scuffing, other wooden components are finished in an attractive rosewood which are more resistant to soiling than the Natural model. Each machine has been hand finished with Danish Oil and Urethane for protection. 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. Ash, like all woods used in WaterRower construction, is a premium hardwood with incredible longevity and dimensional stability. s For reasons of ecology, all our woods are harvested from replenishable forests.


Essentially, the water rower uses water as it's resistance and the air rower (click here to read our air rowing machine reviews) uses air resistance. Additionally, the resistance of the water gives a very similar feeling to actually rowing in the water. The rowing machines listed above all have fantastic rowing mechanisms that mimic the exact feeling of a rowing a boat.
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.
If the machine is to be housed on a wooden floor you will need a mat beneath to reduce vibration and also noise. If space is tight, the hydraulic options are usually the smallest. It's also worth checking your floor can take the weight if you're going for one of the bigger, heavier models. For most, this shouldn't be a problem, if you have any doubts get a surveyor to check as it could be a very expensive mistake!
I kayak (ocean and flat water, not river), so I was drawn to the WaterRower over a flywheel type rower (which I have used in gyms) because I wanted to hear the sound of the water, which I miss hearing against the hull of the boat during the winter when I can't get out on the lake. I also like the way the paddles engage in the water; it's a very smooth pull and release, and moving the mass of the water instead of a dialed down tension feels more natural. As someone else also commented, the seat (at least on the wood version) is incredibly smooth and solid; no wobbling at all. I generally listen to music on my Nordic Track ski machine, but with the WaterRower I am content to listen to the sound of the water; working out on this is somehow both energizing and calmingly meditative at the same time. In the event that you want to use it while watching tv (this is one use to which I wanted to put it), it is quiet enough to hear the tv without having to turn it up.
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