to look for in a cardio rower
Most cardio machines have one thing in common, the user stands on them and the workout is focused on the lower body. Elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bikes - for the most part they all work the lower body. That means rowing machines offer something pretty unique.
The only other cardio machine that comes close to the upper body workout a rower offers is an elliptical with moving arms. Non-machine cardio is also more lower-body focused, unless of course you own a set of Nordic walking poles or have easy access to an actual kayak and a body of water.
If you think rowing is going to be just like any other cardio workout, think again. If you’ve used a rowing machine before you already know if you like the unique workout it provides, but if not you should really try making it though an entire workout on one before deciding.
The first step
If you’re sure a rowing machine is the right choice, set yourself a budget so you can narrow your search. There are a wide variety of rowing machines that range in price from $180 to $2,000 and chances are the low priced budget machines won’t be nearly as good as high-tech versions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a decent rower as long as you know what to look for.
Why rowing machines are good
Rowing machines simulate the motion of rowing a boat in the water. They work almost all the body’s muscles including upper and lower body and abdominals. Even so, it’s a relatively low impact and functional exercise that can be beneficial for almost anyone, as long as they’ve had some instruction on the proper form.
Not only are rowing machines great exercise, many of the machines can be folded up and slid under a bed for storage.
Rowing machine resistance methods
The most common type of rowing machine consists of a flywheel connected to a chain and handle. Rowing machines can offer resistance (which simulates the feel of an oar cutting through the water) with pneumatic, hydraulic or magnetic breaking mechanisms. Some have a moving seat for increased lower body involvement and some don’t. Rowers with moveable seats are considered to be higher quality and create a smoother motion.
- Magnetic resistance - A smooth, silent ride is what magnetic rowers are known for, but they have a somewhat less natural feel. Mid to high priced rowing machines often use this type of resistance.
- Hydraulic resistance - Cheaper machines often use adjustable hydraulic resistance. They are usually smaller and can be folded for storage.
- Air resistance - This method uses a fan and often feels very realistic because the harder you pull, the more resistance is generated. Air rowers cost more but are considered to be among the best and most durable.
- Water resistance - This machine type has actual water in the flywheel and can have the most realistic rowing feel. A water rower runs silently and often comes with high price tag.
What features do you require from the rowing machine?
Before you buy a rowing machine, you’ll probably need to decide between a number of similar models. If you have a list of essential features in mind, you’ll be able to determine which is the best fit.
Often an economical version of a fitness product is just as good as the higher end styles, but in this case it’s recommended that a smooth and comfortable ride be prioritized over price.