How to Buy a Rowing Machine – Buyers Guide

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Are you an avid rower but are finally ready for one of your own? Or perhaps you’re a newbie but have heard how wonderful the sport is. Whatever your case may be, we are here to help!

Rowing is an excellent form of exercise, and rowing machines are efficient ways to burn calories and increase your endurance and strength. We are here to guide you through exactly how to buy a rowing machine so that you’re 100% happy with your purchase.


It doesn’t matter if you’ve found the best rowing machine in the world for free – if it doesn’t fit in your home and you don’t have enough space to use it in, it isn’t going to work! That is why before anything else, we must look at the size of the rowing machine in question, and the space you have available in your home to use it in.

Remember, it’s more than simply looking at the footprint of the rowing machine – you must also take into consideration freedom to move around. With rowing, you’re going to be leaning back much of the time, and this motion along with your elbows sticking out to the sides will stretch beyond the footprint of the machine. We recommend adding at least 20 inches around each side of the machine for best results.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have a home gym. If you don’t have a space where you can leave your rowing machine all day and night, then that’s not an issue at all! Simply pick up a folding rowing machine that can quickly fold away when not in use.


This brings us to our next point, which is portability. If you are planning on moving your rowing machine to different parts of your home, then this plays a big part in your decision most likely. Take into consideration the overall length of the machine, if it is foldable, and how much it weighs.

Rowing machines vary greatly when it comes to weight, as the materials also vary quite a bit. For example, some wooden models can way hundreds of pounds. You’re not realistically going to want to or even be able to haul that around your home. Those models will feasibly require a more permanent place in your home.

Display Screen

No matter what your exercise goals are with your rowing machine, you will probably need a display screen to help you accomplish them. Without one, it will make it difficult to see the level of intensity, speed, calories burned, time passed, etc.

Not every screen is made equal, either. Some are more basic, black-and-grey screens while others are a full-color, large LCD display with backlighting that makes it easy to read at all times of the day or night. Some come with additional features like Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to connect to your phone.

Through here, you can track your workout results on smartphone apps, which can make it easier to keep on track and check your history no matter where you are.


No matter what piece of exercise equipment we’re talking about, comfort and ergonomics must be one of our main priorities. When it comes to rowing machines, our main concerns will be the footplate, seat, and handlebars as these are the points of contact with our body and machine.

Footplate – We highly recommend the footplates have a type of texture or grip on it so that your feet do not go sliding everywhere. When rowing, we use our geet to give us greater leverage, pushing and using the muscles in our feet and legs to help move us backward. Some even come with foot straps, which will keep you locked in even more securely and offer better results. We are partial to rotating footplates, as they offer a more natural, ergonomic movement instead of forcing your body into a certain position.

Seat – Rowing machine seats should be large and comfy, acting as a stable base for you as you’re rowing back and forth. You do not want to have to struggle to keep your balance on these, or feel like they’re too hard. The highest quality seats will even come contoured to work with the curves of your body instead of against them.

Handlebars – The comfort and function of the handlebars is probably the most important aspect of the rowing machine. You’re going to be holding tight onto these throughout the entire workout, so they need to feel good in your hands. Look for machines which have thick foam padding around the entirety, which will protect them from the solid bar inside. These will lower or eliminate the risk of blisters, callouses, and chafing, too.

Types of Resistance

You may have noticed that there are different types of rowing machines out there. Which kind is right for you and your home?


Air rowing machines tend to be more affordable, though also a bit louder due to the use of flywheels and how the air moves through the machine. If you’re planning on working out in the early hours of the morning or really late at night, you may want to look at a quieter type as these may bother others in your home.


Water rowers are not only the coolest looking of the bunch, but they provide the most realistic, accurate rowing experience. It’s as close as you can get to actually rowing in a lake, so if you used to be a rower this may be the right fit for you. Not only that, but they’re very quiet and won’t bother anyone else. You, the user, will likely hear the sloshing around of water, but it only adds to the more realistic rowing experience.


Magnetic rowing machines are usually the most high-tech of all types. They allow for incredible adjustability, and they produce very little to no noise at all. This means that you can listen to music or watch TV without having to blast the volume to hear over the rowing machine. Moreover, they’re the lightest and usually the most compact which makes them easy to move from room to room or store when you’re not using it.

Senior Rowing Machines

Rowing machines for seniors areusually smaller and lighter with a more cushioned seat for comfort. They a wonderful way to get in a good workout and maintain cardiovascular health. As they’re a low impact form of exercise and are close to the ground, they pose a much less risk of injury. On top of that, they won’t cause pain on the joints. Just make sure that the person using it doesn’t have any issues keeping their balance.

Workout ideas and drills for your rowing machine:



Now that you know just about everything you could ever need to about rowing machines, have you decided which is the best one for you? We hope that our guide has helped you narrow down your options. With so many different types and technologies out there, there is at least one that will suit you and your home perfectly. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!


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Ericka Parker

Ericka started her career as a personal trainer over 20 years ago and her goal was to help people become healthy, happy and fit. To do this she would find out their goals and provide the tools and routines to help them reach them. As her career progressed, she added yoga training to her skills to help her clients achieve mindfulness and help with clients mobility. To help more people she started to help other people achieve their fitness goals with advice, tips and fitness equipment reviews.
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