4 Different Types of Rowing Machines

There are 4 Different Types of Rowing Machines, that are available right now, but which one is best for you? We have made a Detailed Summary of each type of rowing machine that will help you to understand them better.

Rowing is a form of boating, but it is played as a sport in many countries. It is a sport that involves a lot of energy and high spirits. In this, you propel your boat on the currents of water using oars.

It is a sport that requires a huge amount of coordination and understanding. This game is particularly played in groups of seven to ten participants and is practiced in many foreign universities such as Oxford and Yale.

Rowing depends entirely on the type of rowing boat that you use.

But can a rowing machine be used as a part of cardio exercise? Yes, you can!

There are rowing machines available which help in targeting the abs and glute muscle of your body. Rowing machines are specially designed in order to give you that extra pull that cardio doesn’t fulfill.

Types of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are the up and foremost used machines utilized in hitting those core muscles. It is inoculated in the gym culture in order to give a new perspective towards exercising.

How many types of rowing machines are there? There are different types of rowing machines out there but finding the perfect one which suits your style seems like a task.

Air, magnetic, water, etc, are some types of rowing machines available. Each function differently on different mechanisms.

No rowing machine is similar to that of the other one. In this article, we would understand the different types of rowing boats and their functions in detail.

Let us dive right into it.

What is a rowing machine?

A rowing machine is used as an indoor rower. It is used to stimulate and work the muscles in the body as a part of exercising. They are used as a part of training and in the workout routine.

It creates a feeling of rowing an actual water crafted boat and also gives you the necessary stretch your body requires. The participants of the rowing competition also utilize this rowing machine in order to practice for the big tournaments.

There are huge benefits of using the rowing machine. There are some misconceptions that this machine works wonders only on the arm muscle, but that is not the case.

In reality, it works on almost 85% of muscles.

A major chunk of a percentage goes for the leg muscles comprising around 60 to 70% and 15 to 25% comprises the arm and bicep muscles. Rowing works as a full-body workout and works effectively every time.

Let’s start our article about the difference between types of rowing machines.

There are different types of rowing machines out in the market.

  • Air rowing machine
  • Magnetic rowing machine
  • Water rowing machine
  • Hydraulic rowing machine

Air Rowing Machine

Types of Rowing Machines

Air rowing machines are the most popular type of machines. They have been around for quite some time now since the 80’s to be precise and are considered the best by many.

Air rowing machines are also known as ergos which is the short form for ergometers. Ergometers are used as the standard model to practice rowing sports indoors.

In order to work those muscles, you need to pull the rower in order to create the necessary resistance.

While rowing a real boat, the waterworks as a medium of resistance but when you practice the same indoors you need different means to get that thrust, that’s when air rowing machines come into the picture.

  • What is an air rowing machine?

    An air rowing machine works on the basic principle of airflow. It produces resistance with the help of the air flowing on the internal flywheel that is situated inside the machine.

    When you pull the handle of the rowing machine the flywheel starts spinning which is connected by a chain to your rowing handle.

The pull generates the thrust and makes the wheel spin around in circles. The speed at which you pull the rower affects the spinning of the flywheel as well.

If you pull faster and with full force, the wheel spins faster but if you pull the row slower, that affects the speed of the flywheel as well.

We have made a detailed comparison of the best air rowing machine of all time, Concept 2 Model vs Model E.


  • It closes duplicates the feeling of water rowing
  • It adjusts itself according to your stroke rate
  • Causes smooth action


  • Tends to create a lot of noise
  • Heaviest amongst the other rowing machine

Magnetic Rowing Machine

Different Types of Rowing Machines
CC: Amazon

If any of the rowing machines that comes after the Air rowing machine would be the magnetic rowing machine. It is the second common choice and they are just amazing.

The basic mechanism behind the magnetic rowing machine is that it has magnets attached to it on its flywheels. When you row the machine you either pull or push the magnets close or farther away from each other.

The act of the magnets coming closer makes it either easier or harder and gives you the desired result.

There help in being the part of an amazing workout but the magnetic rowing machine is great because of many of its other features.

The machine is comparatively smaller than other rowing machines and also quieter. It hardly makes any noise as compared to other rowing machines.

Such features are very much important when you deciding to have a home rowing machine. But seeing the features that this rowing machine offers it may be slightly expensive than the rest of the rowing machines.

Also read: Benefits of Rowing Machines, What makes it a PERFECT Machine

The magnetic rowing machine gives you the type of resistance your body desires. Like they say higher the resistance, the higher the chances of you losing bodyweight. Looking for a quiet and small rowing machine?

A magnetic rowing machine is the one for you.


  • Does not make any noise
  • Small in size
  • Does not require much maintenance
  • Does not require much maintenance


  • Does not work on water, but perfect for a home workout

Water Rowing Machine

The water rowing machine as the name suggests puts resistance by putting the flywheel in a tank full of water. In that way, it provides its own resistance as any other rowing machine available in the market.

This stand-alone feature would make the machine different and far best the most efficient one compared to the other machines.

The whole idea behind this machine is that it gives you the actual feeling of rowing a water boat and does not stay just a part of exercising.

The water acts the same way it does in the real rowboat giving the desired resistance depending on the speed it changes accordingly.

It does not adjust the magnets like the ones in the magnetic rowing machine. It is almost as quiet as the magnetic rowing machine which is a good thing in some way.

Water rowing machines are innovative and new in some way as it does not deal with the traditional method of the rowing machines. In order to create resistance, they use water and paddlers.

— Also read: WaterRower VS Concept2: Water VS Air, which one is better?

This is another one of the rowing machines which is quite the same as the magnetic rowing machines. How does a water rowing machine work?

Water rowers have a chain connected to the paddles in a tank of water which is then connected to the handles of the machine. As you pull the handles for working out the paddles in the water tank started revolving.


  • Hardly makes any noise
  • Gives you the actual feeling of a rowing boat
  • Smooth and flexible in movement
  • Requires less of a maintenance


  • A bit large in size as compared to the other machines
  • A little pricey

Hydraulic Rowing Machine

types of indoor rowing machines
CC: Amazon

Hydraulic rowing machines are the last and final type of rowing machine that we are going to talk about.

The two basic qualities that you will find in any hydraulic rowing machine is that they are quite smaller than the other types of rowing machine.

They are considered of poor quality in general as they do not work on the basic principle of the flywheel rather they work on a piston. The hydraulic rowing machine works on a piston.

The piston is filled with oil these oil-filled compartments are called hydraulic cylinder hence it got the name hydraulic from it. It is very easy to assemble and you can attach it easily to a rowing machine.

It is also very cheap to manufacture so it takes less time to fit in anywhere. The piston in the rower is connected to the arms or handles as you know it.

When you move the handle the piston is released from the cylinder generating resistance. The oil inside the tank moves around to create the necessary resistance the rowing machine needs.

The piston uses the combination of air and oil to generate resistance.

After working out for around 15 to 20 minutes the oil emits heat and hence the velocity of oil changes. It basically becomes thinner in proportion and falls on the piston.

There are either one piston hydraulic rower or dual-piston hydraulic rowers.

The setting of the single-piston works in a way that the arms are joint to the piston, hence when you move the handles or arms of the rower the resistance is created with one hydraulic piston.

A hydraulic rower with two pistons works entirely differently. Both the pistons are attached to one handle each and the amount of resistance created is at maximum force as compared to the one with a single-piston.

Also whenever you are working out you tend to relax one arm and then push the other one ahead that is entirely possible in a dual-piston rower. The entire mechanism of hydraulic rower seems like a science experiment but believe me, it’s not.


  • Comparatively low in cost as others
  • Small in size as there are folding models available in the market
  • Does not make much noise, suitable for a home workout


  • The resistance of the machine differs depending on the heating of oil
  • Needs regular maintenance
  • Are water rowers better than magnetic?

    If you have to choose between the two I would suggest magnetic rower. As it is convenient, makes less noise, and also takes up hardly any of your space. There is also no maintenance required for a magnetic rowing machine but in a water rower, you have to keep changing the water in the machine. 

  • Which one is better air or water rower?

    A water rowing machine is an answer to this question. As water rower creates very little noise and gives you enough peace to practice your workout routine. It is smooth and flexible in the movement. 

  • Which type of rowing machine is the best?

    I believe the magnetic rowing machine is the best and the most convenient of all. It works on the mechanism of two magnets coming together with a pull and going apart with the push of the handles. The other perks of this machine are that it creates less noise and is small in size and also it is easy to use. 

  • Are water rowing machines the best?

    Yes, I wouldn’t call them best but they sure are convenient and easy to use. They are quiet and give you the feeling of an actual rowboat but they also take up a lot of your space. So if you have a smaller amount of space dedicated to a machine water rowing machines are a big no-no. 

  • What is the best resistance for a rowing machine? 

    The best resistance that you can find in any rowing machine is a maximum of up to 10 as it allows a higher amount of airflow to travel. But a resistance at one is considered the lowest as it hardly allows any air to pass through the rower. The beginner rower has a resistance of not more than 3 to 5. 

  • Are water rowers worth it?

    To be honest, yes water rowers are worth it. But it entirely depends on heavy your pocket is or how much space your room provides. They are smooth and easy in utility and do not require much maintenance. 

These are the different types of rowing machines that are available right now if you have any questions regarding our article you can comment down below. These are the types of machines for rowing that you can buy according to your need and budget.

In conclusion, I would say that choosing the right rowing machine depends on few things such as the type of machine that you are looking for, the budget constraints that you have also the space you have to accommodate a full machine.

Magnetic rowing machines are convenient and give you the right amount of resistance but if you looking for a machine that gives you equal resistance hydraulic rowing machine is the new and up-coming machine that works on a dual-piston and affects both the arms equally.

Finding the right machine can be tedious but in the end, it is all worth the gain. We have reviewed some of the best rowing machine here in our site:

Here are some of the Best Selling Rowing Machines from Amazon:

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