Finding the best rowing machine to match your needs can be tough. That’s why we have written an in-depth guide on the subject. Learn more here.
Are you looking for a way to stay home and get fit in these Covid times? How about a single workout machine that will engage every major muscle group? Do you want to pump up your quads and shoulders in one fell swoop? Well, then you’ve come to the right place because here we’ll be explaining the do’s and don’ts of buying the best rowing machine in 2021.
In this guide, we will cover everything you could need to know about buying a rowing machine and what are the best models are available in Australia. We will look at what a rowing machine is, how to use it, the different types of rowing machines and also their fitness benefits.
We’ll also highlight our top picks of the rowing machines available in Australia today and why we came to our conclusions.
So strap your feet in and hold on to that bar, because we’re about to dive into the fundamentals of rowing machines.
What Is a Rowing Machine, Exactly?
Indoor rowing machines or rowers are exercise machines designed to simulate the action of rowing on the water in a boat. They have been around for a very long time.
The first rowing machine was patented in 1872 by a man of the name W. B. Curtis, though rowing machines have been used as far back as the 4th century BC in Greece.
Rowing machines are, as the name implies, machines for rowing. They are the equivalent of what exercise bikes are for cycling. Rowing machines are used for both exercise and training. They build endurance, are one of the best full-body workout machines, and provide numerous health benefits.
There are many types of rowing machines. There are four principal forms of resistance and two main styles of each. There are hydraulic, air, water, and magnetic rowers, and each can have a handlebar or spate rowing arms to simulate oars.
You should take all of these factors into account before buying the best rowing machine for you.
1. Home Rower or Gym Rowing Machine?
The wonderful thing about rowing machines is that they are such superior machines in every way. So whether you are using the home version or one at the gym, the benefits will be the same. Most gyms use magnetic rowing machines, but you will find some with air or hydraulic ones as well.
If you lack space in your home, buying a rowing machine might not be the best choice. However, many rowing machines are pretty space-friendly. Fortunately, many designs nowadays are made to fold up for easy storage.
If you are worried that a home rowing machine won’t be as good as a gym one or one you would find in a health club, don’t worry. Your home gym can be just as effective.
Unfortunately, most home gyms don’t come equipped with personal trainers, but there are endless tutorial videos available online for free. Just make sure you are constantly practicing proper posture while rowing to avoid injuries and gain the most benefits.
How to Use a Rowing Machine
One of the most important things to remember when using a rowing machine is to use proper form. Many people look at rowing machines and assume that all they need to do is pull, and it doesn’t matter how, but that’s not true. There is a general rule when rowing on a machine, and that is the 60-20-20 rule.
The 60-20-20 rule is a guide for how to distribute effort throughout your body when you row. First, push your legs out straight; your legs are responsible for 60% of the force in rowing. Second, lean back and engage your core; this is the next 20% of the effort. Lastly, pull your arms back to your chest to complete the movement and use the last 20% of the strength it takes to row.
To come back in, perform these movements in reverse. For example, push your arms forward, lean forward, and bend your legs to return to the starting position. This 60-20-20 and proper posture will ensure you are getting the most out of your machine and won’t strain anything along the way.
2: Which Type of Rower Is Best for You?
There are four types of rowing machines in widespread use today: hydraulic, air, magnetic, and water. The main difference between these machines is the form of resistance they use.
When you pull the bar on a rowing machine, the strap or chain it’s connected to triggers the resistance device. In turn, each stroke requires effort to perform and, hence, you work out.
In the case of hydraulic rowing machines, the resistance device is a hydraulic cylinder. The pressure of the hydraulic fluid inside forces you to work to pull the bar.
Air, water and magnet rowing machines all rely on what is called a flywheel. When the bar is pulled, and either air, water, or magnets force the wheel to resist rotating, the wheel spins. This drag is what makes each stroke difficult.
When purchasing a rowing machine, there are a few things you need to consider when deciding which type to get. The main factors are feeling, noise, size, and ability. Generally, water rowing machines give the most realistic feel to rowing, but hydraulic and air are pretty good too.
Magnetic, water, and hydraulic are far quieter than air machines.
Water machines tend to be the biggest, followed by magnetic, then air, then hydraulic. And finally, magnetic devices usually have the most adjustable resistance, followed by hydraulic.
When it comes to buying the best rowing machine for your needs, consider these factors and more. For example, some devices don’t have protective pads and can damage hardwood floors; others are foldable and easy to store. Additionally, most rowers have some sort of monitor to display progress, but some have special programs and Bluetooth compatibility.
Editor’s Top Picks
With all these factors in mind, our editor has put together a list of the best rowing machines. The criteria are mostly based on how well each machine works, how comfortable they are, and which feels best to use, rather than how many bells and whistles they come with.
Each type of machine has benefits and drawbacks, but we’re sure you’ll find one that suits your needs. Be sure to check out the pros and cons of each machine for a quick breakdown of why we like them so much and where we think they can be improved.
Hydraulic rowing machines are one of the most basic rowing machine designs, but basic is often good and when it comes to buying the best rowing machine in Australia, this is a case in point. They function by having a hydraulic cylinder, usually under the seat, connected to the rowing arms.
As the arms are pulled, the hydraulic cylinder acts as resistance. As a result, hydraulic machines are usually cheaper, smaller, and quieter than other machines but tend to require more maintenance. The resistance levels can change as the hydraulic fluid heats up.
In our opinion the Stamina BodyTrac Glider is the best hydraulic rowing machine available in Australia. It has 12 levels of resistance, full-range rowing arms, and large, comfortable, moulded seat and foot pedals. Additionally, the BodyTac comes with an electronic monitor and tablet holder.
The hydraulic resistance is easily adjustable, and the rowing arms offer the complete range of motion that actual rowing would. This is better than the machines with a single bar as it allows your arms muscles to better work in their entirety.
The machine measures 30.5cmX104cmX51cm (12”X41”X20”) and weighs a mere 17kg (38lbs). The LCD console is quite plain and straightforward. It shows stroke count, resistance level, and workout time depending on the selected mode.
- Simple design
- Variable for height
- Rowing arms
- Adjustable resistance
- Compact design
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- No programs
- Foot straps can become loose
Air rowers are some of the most common rower designs you will find in professional settings. They function by employing what is known as a flywheel. As you pull the handlebars, the flywheel spins; air that passes over the flywheel causes friction, and in turn, resistance.
This type of rowing machine does not have set levels because it is adaptive. What that means is that the harder you pull the handle, the faster the flywheel spins, and the more the resistance increases.
In addition, some models have dampeners that change the airflow to make the strokes feel smoother and more like actual rowing.
This design is well-liked by professionals as it feels much like rowing on the water and the resistance adjustments are automatic. These rowers tend to be relatively smooth and long-lasting but can be quite noisy.
Our editors believe that the Everfit 8 is the best air rowing machine. It has, as the name implies, eight tension levels for fine-tuning the resistance. It also features an LED display that monitors calorie burn, strokes per minute, and total time.
The Everlift 8 is made specially to run as quietly as possible. It is near silent and this is a real bonus in an air rower as they are often noisy machines. It also comes with a contoured seat and adjustable foot straps. The machine measures 60cmX192cmX68.5cm (23.5”X75.5”X27”) and weighs 23.8kg (52.5lbs).
- Adjustable tension
- Not good for high resistance/weight
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- No programs
Like air rowers, magnetic rowers also employ a flywheel; however, they use magnets to vary the resistance. The resistance is dependent on the distance between the magnets. They are either adjusted manually or through digital controls.
Magnetic rowers are one of the best designs as they allow the user to row smoothly and comfortably, but they are also quiet and can be adjusted quickly.
Moreover, magnetic rowers usually have a more extensive resistance range than other types and can be silent when used. They are also smaller than air and water rowers but not as small as hydraulic rowers.
Magnetic rowers also rarely require any maintenance, but they do not create the same feeling of rowing on the water as other types of rowers. Most people using rowers outside a professional capacity don’t mind this.
As ever, it’s worth thinking about what you want from your equipment. Are you looking at buying the best rowing machine currently available in Australia, or buying the best rowing machine for you?
To our mind, Everlift’s magnetic rowing machine is possibly the single best rowing machine in Australia. The magnetic Everlift is a foldable design. It can be easily compacted for better storage and doesn’t require any special manoeuvring.
The machine is a hefty 31kg (68lbs) thanks to the magnetic wheel and measures 66cmX128.5cmX25cm (26”X51”X10”).
The machine has ten resistance levels and features an LCD monitor that displays total time, strokes, and calorie burn. The seat and footrests are contoured for comfort and adjustable.
- Foldable design
- Ten levels of resistance
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- No programs
Water rowers are very similar to air rowers in design; however, the flywheel consists of paddles and is situated in a water tank. As the handle is pulled, the flywheel spins. The water acts in place of air for resistance. The drag from the water gives users a very similar feeling to actual rowing.
Thanks to this design, water rowers are quiet, require little maintenance, and give a smooth, realistic feel to each stroke. Unfortunately, water rowers tend to be larger and a fair bit more expensive than other types of rowing machines. Additionally, the water has to be changed every six months or so and cannot be left in the sun as it may begin to grow algae.
Water rowers have been increasing dramatically in popularity recently and none more so than the Lifespan rower. This machine boasts a more realistic-feeling rowing experience and smoother, more resistant strokes.
It is quite the sizeable machine at 56cmX216cmX57cm (22”X85”X22.5”) and 40kg (88lbs), plus an extra 4kg (9lbs) or so of water once the tank is filled. However, it is a very handsome machine and in my mind could almost work as a decorative furniture piece in itself (and thus no need to furtively hide it behind the curtains or sofa when you have guests).
It has a lovely oak frame and LCD display. The monitor shows calories burned, time, distance, and speed.
The seat is ergonomically moulded and the pedals have adjustable straps. However, because the machine is so large, it takes up quite a bit of room and cannot be easily stored. You will also have to be sure to place it somewhere away from sunlight to avoid algae growth in the water tank.
- Smooth realistic-feeling strokes
- Thorough performance monitoring
- Nice wooden frame
- No resistance adjustment
- The tank needs to be cleaned and refilled every six months
- Heavy and large design not suitable for storage
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- No programs
4: What Are the Other Benefits of Rowing?
There are so many benefits to using rowing machines. Aside from being a great full-body workout for everything from your calves and hips to abs and pecs, it is also a great way to build heart and lung health. Additionally, it is a superb alternative to treadmills and ellipticals.
As well, rowing is a low-impact exercise, meaning it is not overly straining. This and the adjustability of the difficulty and speed make it a perfect exercise for anyone of any fitness level. Many people also find the repetitive movements to be relaxing and even mediative.
Is 20 Minutes of Rowing Enough?
We all know, when it comes to working out, the more effort and time you put in, the better the results you’ll see.
However, there are many reasons not everyone can devote hours to fitness. Whether you work long hours, have a family to care for, don’t have the stamina to do more, or any combination thereof, any amount of exercise is better than none.
As a general rule of thumb, 15-20 minutes of cardio five to six days a week should be treated as the minimum. However, you can see some pretty impressive results fairly quickly if you devote yourself to a consistent 20 minutes a day of rowing. 20 minutes of rowing every day can help you lose about 250 grams per week; more if you have excess weight to start.
There are many different rowing routines and not all of them will work for everyone at every fitness level. However, a 30-minute high-intensity workout five times a week is an excellent fundamental goal to strive for.
Remember that the intensity of the exercise is dependent on strokes per minute, not time.
Is Rowing Better than Running?
While both exercises can damage your joints if overdone or done incorrectly, rowing has more benefits and fewer risks than running. When you run, your entire body weight is coming down on each leg separately over and over.
Regardless of whether you are running outside or using a treadmill, this repeated action can be quite damaging over time. The cartilage in your knees is at especially high risk.
Similarly, if you bend your legs too far or don’t practice proper posture when rowing, the cartilage in your knees and other body parts can start to wear down. However, as rowing is more of a full-body exercise than running, the wear and tear are more evenly distributed and therefore less harmful. This is why rowing is referred to as a low-impact exercise.
Additionally, rowing burns more calories and works out more of your body than running does. It is also more forgiving for people of different fitness levels.
If you are looking for a way to get into working out with the most benefits and least strain, rowing is the best way to do that. Rowing even works out your glutes even though you perform it sitting down. How splendid is that?
Which is Better Treadmill or Rowing Machine?
Generally speaking, both treadmills and rowing machines are good choices for at-home machines. The question of which is better depends on the benefits you are seeking. If you dislike running, there is simply no point in buying a treadmill as you will most likely not use it.
If you are looking for the best machine for weight loss, rowing machines are the better option because they put less strain on your body. If you feel joint pain when walking or running due to your weight, a treadmill will only exacerbate that problem.
Rowing machines also work out more muscles in your body and provide better cardio training. So if you plan to take up running late, it is still a good idea to start your fitness journey on a rowing machine.
Another considerable benefit of rowing machines that most people forget is that it strengthens the upper body. While there are some benefits from arm movements in running, it will not work out your chest, back, core, and arms the same way a rowing machine will.
One more reason why buying the best rowing machine that you can afford is probably the better option is that rowing machines provide a more balanced workout. For example, it is easy to run with an uneven gate, but rowing machines rely on symmetrical movements. This means you will not be favouring one side more than the other, and muscle development will be more even.
Which Type of Rowing Machine Is Best?
Of the four main types of rowers—hydraulic, air, magnetic and water—it is nearly impossible to say one is the definitive best. Each is designed for a different purpose, and each has strengths and shortcomings.
Many people prefer the water rower as it gives the most similar sensation to actual rowing, but these designs tend to be large and expensive. Many professionals swear by air rowers, but they can be too noisy for home use.
Magnetic rowers are quiet and better for individual adjustable resistance levels, but they feel nothing like real rowing. Finally, hydraulic rowers are smaller and cheaper than most others but require more regular maintenance and are not as smooth or consistent as resistance.
Declaring a best rowing machine maybe too subjective, as each is more suited for particular uses and situations. However, for the average home user, there is a clear winner (magnetic – see below).
Regardless of that, it does all come down to preference. The professionals tend to use air rowers, so consider an air rower if you want to strive for an elite level.
Which Is the Best Rowing Machine for Home Use?
For the average home rower, the best type of rowing machine is undoubtedly the magnetic type. These models tend to be the quietest, cause the slightest vibrations, are small, and are cheaper than most other types.
Magnetic rowers provide even resistance and do not need maintenance. They are also more user-friendly as they can be adjusted, unlike air rowers. Thanks to the magnets, some models are virtually silent. The only complaint that some users have is that magnetic rowing machines do not feel like rowing on water.
However, as most users are looking for rowing machines exclusively for exercise, this is generally not a big problem. Magnetic rowers are the best design for home use.
How Good Are Rowing Machines for Cardio?
Rowing machines are some of the best workout machines for cardio. The aerobic and strength training benefits of rowing machines are something to behold.
Due to how rowing machines work, when you use them, you are engaging your whole body in the workout. This helps to build and define muscle while also getting your heart and lungs pumping.
An intense one-hour session on a rowing machine can burn up to 800 calories and works 86% of your muscles. The benefits of running, while still impressive, are only about two-thirds as good. A one-hour run will burn about 550 calories.
If you are looking for a way to max cardio without tiring yourself out, rowing machines are an excellent choice. You will gain more aerobic training from a rowing machine than any other workout machine.
How Good Are Rowing Machines for Weight Loss?
There’s a lot to be said for rowing machines when it comes to weight loss. As you probably already know, the best way to lose weight when working out is to engage the whole body and to elevate the heart rate; the rowing machine is perfect for just that.
Rowing machines are one of the best workout machines for weight loss. This is due to their full-body design. When using a rowing machine, almost every muscle in the body is engaged. You have to use your legs, arms, and core especially. The benefits of this are that each muscle is strengthened, and blood flow is elevated.
Because you are using your whole body, each muscle requires more oxygen than when you are idle. Thanks to this, your heart has to pump faster to keep up, and, as we all know, increased heart rates burn more calories.
Another benefit of using a rowing machine for weight loss is that it is low impact. This means you can work out longer without straining your muscles and joints as much as you would on another machine.
Rowing machines are a fabulous weight-loss tool for anyone, regardless of fitness level. They are the perfect place to start a weight loss journey and just as good for continuing one.