Best rowing machine for beginners

July 10, 2015

If you’re thinking about buying a rowing machine, but you’ve only really used one a few times at the gym or you don’t know which type to purchase for the home, there are a few simple questions to ask yourself in order to determine the best rowing machine for a beginner.

Rowing machines come in four different build formats; Hydraulic, air resistance, magnetic resistance and water resistance. Hydraulic machines, which are often smaller in size, are usually fitted with shock absorbers, similar to the shocks you’d find on a car. These units suffer from a disadvantage of not always offering as good a range of motion as some of the other types, but where space is at a premium and the user is perhaps slightly restricted in movement, because of age or flexibility, these rowers can be a good choice for a beginner, however, these machines often create the most noise during operation.

Air resistance rowing machines come equipped with an adjustable fan wheel or similar device that allow some control as the resistance of the unit itself, which more accurately mimics motion through the water than a hydraulic rowing machine. The air wheel adjustment also makes these types of units more suitable to both beginners and more experienced users, as the resistance adjustment allows fairly accurate control over the difficulty of the row, making it easier for beginners, but allows more resistance to be added the more experienced the user becomes. Like the hydraulic versions though, these rowing machines can be reasonably noisy during operation, which renders them unsuitable for some environments.

Magnetic resistance rowing machines offer a distinct advantage over both the hydraulic and air resistance units, because the operation of the mechanisms is virtually silent. They offer the full range of motion and usually a good level of controllable resistant difficultly, making them a popular choice for most exercise rowers. However, the silent operation and full range of motion comes at a higher cost, with this type of rowing machine usually at the top end of the price scale, which is a risk to the beginner, who might not gain the best overall value from the machine.

The final rower type is a water resistance model. These units offer the most realistic and authentic rowing experience on dry land, because they use a water-based flywheel. The sound of the water swishing and whooshing as you row can be quite neat, and, the user experience is usually more satisfying, as the full range of motion, difficultly and resistance can be accessed, usually in relative comfort; however, the additional realism puts the price-tag up, which really only makes these models cost effective to serious beginners only.

For beginners, air resistance units, which are most often also found within the gym environment, probably offer the best option. However, your choice might be narrowed down by looking at storage capabilities of the various designs or weight limits if you’re on the large side. Aluminium frames are usually versatile and strong enough, for most usages and some machines offer better programming and monitoring capabilities that often steer beginners towards units with more pre-programmed exercise routines and computerised monitoring facilities.

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