Pros and Cons of 4 Different Types of Rowing Machines for Home Use [2023]

Fitness is becoming crucial nowadays. Everybody wants to practice the best health in order to live longer. It becomes necessary to consider how to pick the best option that suits you. A rowing machine is the best low-impact gear according to most experts. It can be used at home easily.

Let’s consider you have decided to start your fitness journey on a rowing machine. But a question arises, which type of rowing machine you should select?

There are different types of rowing machines in the market.

And all these machines are distinguished on basis of their working mechanism(i.e different resistance levels, noise levels, precision in the console, etc)  and also on basis of design, it can be a normal or foldable rowing machine.

The resistance levels include hydraulic, water, air, and magnetic.

One of the rowers which are becoming popular is a hydraulic rowing machine. Although it has considerable pros like every other machine it also has some cons, which you should definitely consider before buying this rower model.

We should know that all the gym gears provide different levels of difficulty, benefits, etc.

Nowadays it is a preference of every person that he can buy a low-budget exercising gear to perform his workout at home.

So, here comes the Good News! You can get the best out of this if you know how to properly use the rowing machine.

When you will use a rowing machine at your indoor training hub, it will absolutely provide value for the money. Because you have access to your equipment 24/7.

Now we will discuss all the different types of rowing machines, compare them, and will let you decide which one is better for you.

Different Types of Rowing Machines

The working mechanism of these gears is the same(i.e they offer resistance). The main types of rowing machines that distinguish from each other on the basis of their manufacturing are:

  1. Magnetic Machine
  2. Hydraulic Machine
  3. Air Resistance Rower
  4. Water Rower

Magnetic Rowing Machine

What is a magnetic rowing machine?

A magnetic rowing machine uses a magnet brake that is installed inside with a flywheel to produce resistance for the user.

It is adjustable, each user can opt the different levels of resistance depending on the calories a user wants to burn.

As it is clear from the name, the magnetic rowing machine is a remarkable machine with new technology of magnet that creates resistance. 

Pros and Cons of 4 Different Types of Rowing Machines for Home Use-Hydraulic Rower Gear

Magnetic rowers are considered the most quiet rowing machine.

How does a Magnetic Rowing Machine Work?

You now know why magnetic rower is popular. But it is also interesting if you know what is working for these rowers.

You must be surprised that there is a magnet installed in the magnetic rowing machine.

Resistance is produced on the base of the distance of the magnet from the flywheel of the rowing machine. Farther the magnet from the flywheel lowest is the resistance and vice versa.

The main thing causing the resistance in an air rower is air but in a magnetic machine, it is eddy current.

Eddy currents are the forces that occur when nonmagnetic metals move through the magnetic fields. Nothing happens when both objects are still but when motion is detected the eddy currents are introduced. Eddy currents oppose the magnetic field and its opposition of two forces, thus creating resistance for your workout.

Strokes in the magnetic rowers are usually pretty smooth.

Because the working mechanism of a magnetic rower uses a magnet brake, No matter whether you apply the stroke with less or more strength, resistance won’t be different, it only changes when the distance of the magnet is increased or decreased from flywheel rowing machines.

Sound of Magnetic Rower

You bearly hear any noise from the magnetic rowing machine.

These are best suited for you if you live in an apartment or flat. These are considered among the quiet type of all rowers.

You cannot say it’s pin-drop silence, but it’s not that much disturbing that you get annoyed. If a person wants he can read a book in the next room in complete silence.


  • Magnetic rowing gear offers you a silent workout, thus enhancing your efficiency.
  • Little bit more space saver because these are smaller as compared to some other different types of rowers. It is one of the best sorts of home rowing machines. You can adjust this rowing machine in your home.
  • Some magnetic rowers also come in folding designs. Thus, giving you the option to focus more on your workout strategy, rather than worrying about space.


Magnetic rowing is smooth. So, you may not get such an original feel of rowing as in water rower or air rower.

If you will buy overweight gear this might become a hassle for you to move this in your apartment.

Best Magnetic Rowing Machine(Sunny Magnetic Rower)

Considering all the above factors of a magnetic rowing machine we have picked the best overall among magnetic rowers. It is lightweight.

It does offer a lot of resistance levels. You can change your resistance just by moving the knob. The 8 levels of resistance will let you experience the best of you.

You can use this indoors because it comes in 60lbs so, it will be easy for you to move this into your flat.

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Hydraulic Rowing Machine(Overall Low Budgeted Rower)

Hydraulic rowing gears are very in-demand machines for those persons who want to do workouts at home.

This high demand for hydraulic ones for home use is due to fact that these are usually very cheap and compact.

How do Hydraulic Rowers Work?

These machines use air or fluid for resistance purposes.

The handles are attached to the hydraulic pistons(filled with fluid/resistance) that create resistance. That’s the simple working of a piston rowing machine.

And obviously, the resistance can be changed by turning the knob, usually present under the side rail.

How do Hydraulic Rowers Work

What Workout does Hydraulic Rowing Machine offer?

Hydraulic rowers are suitable for those who don’t want a very intense workout. The reason is, that the structure of hydraulic rowers is not designed such that it can offer you a versatile exercise.

In upper body, it particularly tones and strengthens your middle(an area that contains scapula) and lower back.

Most people say hydraulic rowers are only suitable for the upper body. But that’s not correct. You can see in the video below that when the girl completes a move, her legs and thighs are also in motion.

So, we can’t say lower body is not involved but rather we can say that the effect on the lower body is not that much as in other rowing machines.

Since the range of motion is a little bit less, that’s why you might not find this machine in gyms or your nearby training hubs.

The effect on legs is less because the length of rail in hydraulic one is less, so it provides less range of motion as compared to other different types of rowers.

So, the muscles that are mainly involved in hydraulic workouts are arms, shoulder muscles, calves, and quadriceps muscles.

All in all hydraulic rowing machines have a lot of benefits.

I will categorize the above discussion of hydraulic rowing machines as pros and cons so that you can make a better decision, whether it is suitable for you or not.

Watch YT video, a Girl Doing workout on Hydraulic rower


Hydraulic rowers are very cheap compared to other types of rowers.

These rowing machines are compact(space saver). You don’t need to worry much, even if you have a small apartment.

Some hydraulic machines do come in foldable designs. Already it has a compact design and you can fold it further, that’s pretty amazing. Hmm!

Another interesting feature is that these are most quiet rowers, some people say magnetic rowers are noise-free. But according to my experience, these are the quietest of all.

The interesting thing is 360° motion of arms on a hydraulic machine gives you a real feel of rowing.
Because in boat rowing you don’t pull a string as you do in other rowers. Instead, you move your arms at 360° in a river to keep boat moving.


The range of motion of overall body is a little bit less as compared to other rowing gears.

Overall Cheap & Light Weight (Sunny SF-RW1205 Hydraulic Rower)

One of the wonderful things about this machine is its low price which makes this budget-friendly for everyone.

It is very suitable for those fitness enthusiasts who want a healthy lifestyle.

I won’t exaggerate by saying that it will give you a muscular body or abs or such things. It’s fine for those who want a little bit of body toning daily.

Sunny hydraulic machine is among one of the best choices of people on Amazon.

The sole reason for selecting this machine is its minimal cost and thousands of positive reviews from people.

The 12 resistance levels of this machine will let you know the extent of a tough workout.

Its ultra-low weight will definitely blow your mind. It comes in 21 pounds, making it extremely easy to carry and move.

This machine is different from other kinds of rowing machines.

Hydraulic rowing machines are used to strengthen the upper extremity of the body for the workout. These gears are especially used to firm arms and improve cardiac activity to restore health and fitness.

This machine has slightly light features for an easy workout and this rowing machine does not involve legs and thighs. Hydraulic rower designed for early newbie and for old age people.

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Air Rowing machine

What is air rower gear?

When wind crosses over the flywheel of a rower machine dust particles that are present in the air create resistance against the wheel as you pull away from it. Resistance depends on the speed as you row.

An air resistance rowing machine is a perfectly decent machine that you might hunt according to your choice. You become satisfied when you have it. There are different kinds of gears present in the training hub.

exercise on air rower in gym

Mechanism of flywheel rowing machine

When a user speedily rows the flywheels move quickly to create resistance. This will produce a strong stroke which will strengthen your body part. Air rowing machines create less resistance as compared to water rowers.

There is some kind of damper setting present on the damper control panel. The damper settings feature is not present on every air rower.

Damper allows a limited number of dust particles to enter the flywheel house that create resistance.


It helps to lose bodyweight considerably lose one kg in a week. It may help to reduce belly fat.

Help to preserve muscle mass and burn 180 calories in 15 minutes.

Help to maintain proper body posture.

The air rower machine is very smooth and easy to handle.

This gear proves to be the best rowing machine for beginners.


Regular neatness is required after every workout because dust particles make gear dirty. Dust particles get stuck in the vacuum and damper that might reduce resistance when you row speedily.

Air rower machines are somewhat much more expensive than others.

Some external factors like humidity damage the damper panel setting.

Concept 2 Model D Air Rower

One of the best machines among Air rowers on Amazon. You can’t imagine it has 4.9 ratings and is one of the best-selling on Amazon.

According to my experience, people love this gear because of its multiple resistance levels. This resistance will push you to maximum of your extent.

Its long rail engages your whole body in a workout. You will see a full range of motion of your legs, core, and arms in this machine.

An added benefit of this air rower is, that it folds very easily.

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Water Rowing Machine

Water rowers are new, more elite, and possess uniquely beautiful features. But with the design, the majority look for the affordable budget rowing machine.

You have to consider the cost of this gear too before making any decision.

These are the best indoor rowing machines yet.

Like any other kind, this one also has some benefits and drawbacks. We will discuss them

Structure/Working of Water Rower Machine

Its structure is what grabs the attention of most people.

The water rower consists of a transparent flywheel right under the footrest that is filled with water. This machine works by causing resistance. When you start rowing, the paddle strokes and water together create resistance.

The more resistance created the more calories you will burn as rowing strengthens the muscles affecting the whole body. Especially muscles of the legs, back, abs, and shoulders.

a girl using water rower in home

How to Enhance the Resistance of Water Rower

The most enthusiast fitness freaks usually tend to do workouts at optimum level and the prior concern is to consume more calories.

In order to enhance the resistance of water rowers all you need is to do a stroke with greater strength.

Unlike other machines, it doesn’t have a knob to enhance the resistance. Rather if you want to increase the resistance you can do so just by adding water to the tank of machine. More the water, more the resistance, and vice versa.

Here are some pros and cons that might help you choose between different types of rowers.

Water Resistance Rowing Machine Benefits

  • Its unique structure is fascinating.
  • It is quiet and the sound of water due to resistance is soothing. Often people find it meditative.
  • Rowing on a water rower mimics the behavior of a real boat rowing which is pleasing.
  • It has smooth movements that do not put pressure on any of the joints.
  • It is the best rowing machine for home.

Water Resistance Rowing Machine Drawbacks

There might be one thing that you need to worry about the least which is that it’s costly, unlike other rowers.

But, if you are determined to facilitate yourself it is just a trifling matter.

Overall, it is worth it if you want to train yourself and enhance your capability of endurance using the water rowing machine at home. While you are at ease and have some privacy.

Sunny Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rower

Sunny Fitness is one of the leading brands in gym equipment, due to its durable and cost-effective machines.

So continuing the tradition, sunny fitness has also proved one of the best brands for water rowing machines.

This Obsidian Surge is very elegant looking. Its 16 fan blade flywheel will let you exercise to that extent that you can only experience in the expensive machines.

This best low-budget rowing machine is suitable for indoor rowing.

You can just place this gear in front of a window from where sunlight is coming, put earbuds in your ear and feel the nature.

You will definitely feel like meditating or experiencing nature. Because the water sound due to flywheel of rowing machine is very soothing.

It also calculates various important metrics like time, SPM, calories, etc., and much more.

You can further check the essential features of this lovely thing on Amazon. The link is below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have to make a decision about buying an expensive machine, you will definitely check every aspect of the gear.

And you might have some common queries like other people. So, I will answer some of them for you.

What are Disadvantages of a Rowing Machine?

Most people tell advantages of rowing machine but the person who wants to buy a rower wants to know the every up and down of this thing.

In my opinion, we can’t say rowing machine has disadvantages. Rather we can say that some aspects of rowing machines might suit someone and some might not suit others.

Some might be looking for home use. Some might be looking for a gym. So, it depends.

Does Hydraulic Rowing Machine offer a Good Workout?

Hydraulic rowing machine gives you the workout of upper body more particularly.

It does work on legs and hamstrings. But hydraulic rower workout on the legs is not as tense as in other rowing machines.

What Muscles Are Involved in Rowing Machine Workout?

Most experts say, in air, magnetic and water rowers, almost whole body is involved because of lengthy rails, which let you move your legs, core, and arms fully.

While in hydraulic rowers due to their compact size it becomes harder to engage your legs completely. So your core, shoulders, and arms mainly work.


One of the reasons why rowing machines are much preferred for beginners is because rowing machines offer a low-impact workout with the added benefit that the whole body is involved.

Unlike other machines like treadmills, rowing machines provide you with a full range of motion.

In a treadmill workout, the muscles that are mainly involved are the legs and quads. While rowing machine gives you the opportunity to exercise your whole body(arms, shoulders, middle back, legs, quads).

The most common rowers for gyms are Air flywheel rowers and water rowers.

One which is best for flats or home use is the hydraulic rower because it’s cheap and compact. Thus suited for individual users.

All of these different types of rowers have benefits. Some things might fascinate someone and some might not. It all depends on your needs, your passion, and of course budget 🙂

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