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What To Look For In A Rowing Machine (Equipment Buying Guide)

what to look for in a rowing machine

Have you decided to buy a rowing machine, but don’t have any idea where to begin? We understand that shopping for a piece of fitness equipment can be a little too overwhelming, especially when various specifications and modifications start to come by. Before you take any step further, we are here to help you decide if the equipment that you’re eyeing is worth the purchase. By knowing what to look for in a rowing machine, you can surely get the advantage of finding the best products in the market.


Why Buy A Rowing Machine?

If you are looking for a piece of heavy-duty equipment that provides a low-impact cardio workout, you should try out an indoor rowing machine. Rowing machines, also known as ergometers or erg, are gaining popularity as one of the most sought-after cardio fitness equipment. Aside from being an all-around workout choice suitable for every age and fitness level, it has a relatively simple interface that makes this equipment the perfect home gym machine.

Incorporating rowing exercises into your routine can bring out the best in you. It is definitely one of the most efficient indoor fitness equipment, arguably competing among other cardio machines such as ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bikes. However, only a rowing machine can provide an impressive full-body workout without causing any harm to the knees, joints, and muscles. 



Different Types of Rowing Machines Based on Resistance

Before choosing your rowing machine, it is important to have prior knowledge about each type and its benefits and features. Rowing machines are primarily classified according to their resistance systems: air, hydraulic piston, water, and magnetic.

These four types of rowing machine have individual specifications that are found to be useful for every rower.

Air resistance

This type of rowing machine is commonly found on various gyms and fitness centres. It is known to have a rowing stroke that gives off a smooth gliding and naturally flowing stride. This is due to the flywheels that generate the wind’s resistance from each pulling motion. The intensity of the resistance depends on your movements, which allows you to be in full and complete control.

Water resistance

If you are looking for a full-on rowing experience, this type of rowing machine simulates actual outdoor rowing.  It is an ideal option for those who have water rowing experience because it imitates the resistance similar to a water boat.

Magnetic resistance

This type of rowing machine resistance is perfect for home gym owners that enjoy a quiet, smooth rowing motion and easy to maintain equipment. It offers a strong and powerful resistance which provides a great and fun workout experience. Magnetic rowing machines are also known to attract the younger age group of gym-goers because of its advanced and innovative features. 

Hydraulic resistance

For a more practical choice, rowing machines with hydraulic resistance are usually found on the affordable end. Also known as piston rowers, this type comes as a compact variety of a rowing machine that has easy to store features – perfectly suitable for those with limited space or those who constantly want to switch their ambience. Each feature is worth every penny; an economical option that provides the necessary workout suitable for your fitness needs.


Rowing Machine Buying Guide: Making the Choice

When making a purchase, we often take more than enough time to convince ourselves whether we are making the right choice. With the wide variety of brands and models available, it is a challenge to find the best rowing machines that would not make you regret your purchase. To help you skip the dreadful process, we are here to guide your way to look for the perfect fitness companion for your home gym.

Analysing your needs

As you embark on your search towards the perfect rowing machine, you must take a step forward and make an in-depth analysis of your needs. You will know what to look for in a rowing machine once you draft your reasons why you want to get a hold of this equipment in the first place. Consider the frequency and duration that you plan to work out as well as your end goals.

While most rowing machines are considered heavy-duty equipment, some are not designed to sustain high-intensity usage. This is why it is also important to note how many people will be using your equipment.

Preparing your budget

Of course, your budget is also an important factor when choosing a rowing machine. Making a purchase that is beyond your paying capacity may not be the most practical choice. You can avoid buying on impulse if you plan your budget and stick with the equipment within your range.

However, some stores may offer affordable products with flexible payment choices and financial assistance to help you get your desired equipment. You can also look for offers and special promotions to get discounted prices.

Longevity of service

How long do you intend to use your rowing machine? If you have a firm commitment to remain diligent to your rowing exercises, and have plans to use a rowing machine for decades, invest in a more durable and reliable model that will last for longer terms. However, if you are still unsure of your dedication towards the machine, you can try out more affordable options for a temporary fix while deciding if you will continue with rowing in the long run.

Familiarising resistance types

It has been a common misconception that rowing machines all work the same and are similarly built. A well-educated buyer would know that one of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing your rowing machine would rely mainly on the type of resistance suitable for your needs. As we have mentioned earlier, prior knowledge of rowing machine types would make your purchase easier and more personalised.


Tips on How You Can Evaluate Your Rowing Machine

When you shop for a rowing machine, it is important to have a checklist of specific features and parts to look out for. This list will help you make sure that you will get the best rowing experience possible. To help you test and evaluate your prospects, we have written down some of the essential features that you should carefully pay attention to:

Machine Noise

If you have plans to add a rowing machine to your home gym or anywhere in your apartment, it is important to consider its noise level. Some rowing machines create an incredible frequency of machine noise that could be disturbing for others who live with you or anywhere nearby. Unless you have a soundproof workout area, opt for a rower that has less machine noise and as sleek as possible. 


Regardless of your equipment size, you will still have to maintain it. Frequent upkeep of any workout machine can be time and resource-consuming. It is better to look for a rowing machine that is low-maintenance and requires less attention for an easier fix. Choose a rowing machine with detachable parts for quick replacement in case of broken parts instead of a complicated build with several fans and chains, which will require professional consultation.

Size and Storage

If you have limited space in your area, a compact version of a rowing machine is the best for you. Some types can either be folded or stored vertically when not in use. Rowing machines are known to take up floor space, which can be a lot depending on their maximum size. Ideally, some rowers have transport wheels that allow easy storage and transport so you can easily declutter and organise your home gym.

Handle Design

There are several models and designs of rowing machines available. Traditional rowing machines have single handlebars, also known as oars, which you can grip with your both hands. More advanced rowers boast double handlebars resembling that of an elliptical. This type of oar allows your upper body to move on a fuller range of motion.


To ensure your safety and avoid the occurrence of unnecessary injuries, it is important to check if your prospect equipment contains a quality seal. The presence of quality seals assures that your equipment underwent the necessary quality tests and examinations before its release to the market. This will reduce the risk of faulty machinery and equipment.  


Specific Features of a Rowing Machine

Aside from the above factors, it is also necessary to check for specific qualities available. Having innovative and advance features can make your purchase more worth it.

Seat Cushions

To perform rowing machine exercises, you’ll be required to remain seated for an extended period. As you stay in this position, it is important to make sure that your seat will be comfortable. A seat that does not fit well to your body might affect your workout, and eventually, take a toll to your overall performance. A rowing machine with comfortable and well-cushioned seat will keep you in focus and get you more engaged in your activity.

Foot Straps

An adjustable foot strap is an essential addition to a rowing machine. Each foot strap serves as a support to keep your feet in place throughout your routine. A snugly-fitting foot strap will allow you to remain comfortable and perform better. Otherwise, if a foot strap is too tight or too loose, it can negatively impact your movements or, worse, put you at risk and unnecessary injuries.

While some rowing machines do not offer this feature, it is still possible to get a foot strap as an add-on. You can ask your fitness provider regarding this.

Resistance options

Some advanced rowing machines have automatic control options to adjust resistance levels. These options are used for a smoother flow when switching between various intensities. It is advisable to get a machine that offers a wide range of resistance levels for a maximum user experience, replicating actual outdoor rowing.

On the other hand, traditional rowers can opt for the classic rowing machines that don’t have a specific resistance level. This rowing machine will change the resistance depending on how hard or light you execute your pulls. 

User monitors

All rowing machines have an ergometer, which is the apparatus used to measure the amount of energy you have expended during your routine.  Some models show basic health statistics such as the number of calories burned, distance travelled, and power used. However, if you want to make the most out of your exercises, you should look for a dashboard monitor with a more in-depth status tracking capability.

Smart features

Today’s innovations can help improve your workout experience. Even though these features are not necessary during your workout routine, it can still positively influence your exercise mood. Some rowing machines contain built-in Wi-Fi connectivity that allows music streaming, pre-programmed workout guides, and even third-party applications. These features can enhance your rowing experience, elevate your mood, and bring out more of your competitive edge.  



Final Thoughts

Investing in a rowing machine is something that must be taken seriously. Careful evaluation of the factors to consider and proper analysis of your personal goals are necessary to ensure that you make the right choice. It is also recommended to have enough knowledge and background about the equipment before coming up with your final decision.

If you are looking for a reliable and top-of-the-line rowing machine, be sure to check out our product catalogue here at Home Gym Australia. We are proud to offer a wide variety of home gym equipment that will surely satisfy your fitness needs.

Please feel free to browse through our website or contact us for more information and assistance.


Home Gym Australia is strictly implementing stiff rules and regulations when it comes to its investigative procedures. It has performed well-organised surveys and interviews based on client preference and expert opinions. Home Gym Australia also makes sure that peer reviews and product studies from reputable gym establishments and manufacturers are sourced out without bias and with fair judgment.

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