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Rowing Machine Consumer Ratings & Reports

Rowing Machine Consumer Ratings & Reports

What is it for, pros and cons, effectiveness for weight loss

Aerobic or cardio workouts not only tone muscles, but also all body systems. Most of them involve stress on the knees and ankles, which is not suitable for people with problematic joints.

But there is a simulator that allows you to do aerobic exercise without impact load on the legs. And this is a rowing machine, which has almost no contraindications.


Rowing machine, in contrast to the treadmill, ellipsoid, stepper and exercise bicycle, actively includes in the work of the upper and lower body, but involving the knee joints in a gentle mode. The trainer belongs to the safest, and is suitable for rehabilitation exercises after illnesses and injuries.


A rowing machine simulates the movements of rowers, which allows you to work out the muscles of the back and shoulder girdle intensively, as well as maintain toned muscles of the lower body.

According to the specific load trainer for rowing is more suitable for men than for women, because it allows you to work out the upper body, involving legs and glutes intensely, but not targeted. But it will also be useful for women to strengthen the arms, back and abs, as well as to keep legs and buttocks toned.


  • Involves 80 to 95% of the body’s muscles, allowing you to keep your body in shape at home.
  • Improving blood circulation and strengthening the heart muscle. Engaging a large number of muscles requires an intense blood supply, which makes the heart work faster and more powerfully.
  • Supply of oxygen to the body, which makes a person more alert and energetic.
  • High calorie consumption. According to Harvard Health Publication man of average weight (80-85 kg) for half an hour of training burns more than 350 kcal, which is more than 30 minutes of running on the track.
  • Increased overall body strength. Rowing is not the easiest sport to do because you have to work hard with your whole body and legs. Regular exercise on a rowing machine strengthens the muscles of the back, arms, shoulders and abs, as well as making the legs stronger.
  • Increased endurance. Exercise on a rowing machine strengthens and develops the heart muscle, normalizes the work of the circulatory system, which improves the body’s endurance.
  • Acceleration of metabolism due to strengthening of muscles, reduction of the percentage of fatty tissue and stimulation of blood and lymph flow.
  • Reduced stress on the joints, which reduces the possibility of injury. Due to the low injury risk, the simulator is used in rehabilitation centers for recovery after illnesses and surgeries. It is also useful for people with obesity, for whom other types of cardio exercises are contraindicated.
  • It is possible to pump the upper and lower body simultaneously, which is impossible on other cardio machines.
  • Versatility. Rowing machine is suitable for different purposes: weight loss, keeping in shape, strengthening muscles and cardiovascular system, rehabilitation and regular exercise at home.


  • Reduced load on the legs compared to other cardio machines.
  • The monotony of training, since during rowing you can perform only a certain range of movements.
  • The combination of strength and cardio, which is not suitable for those who are looking solely for an aerobic trainer.
  • The need for complete concentration on the movements, which makes it impossible to watch TV programs or movies during home exercises.
  • Large dimensions of the simulator and its high cost.


Due to the good fixation of the body during training and the most natural range of motion, the rowing machine is considered to be the safest cardio equipment.

But some contraindications do exist. With them you should get acquainted, planning to buy an expensive simulator for home.

  • Arterial hypertension – the tendency to high blood pressure is a ban on training on all kinds of cardio machines.
  • Radiculitis, severe osteochondrosis and scoliosis – problems with the spine can be a contraindication for rowing. But with mild forms of these diseases rowing is, on the contrary, an indication, because it strengthens the muscular frame and develops the spine.
  • Diseases of the internal organs – an intense load can provoke painful sensations, so it is not recommended.
  • Colds, fever, female periodic pain – exercise can increase the fever and pain syndrome, so you should refrain from rowing in the acute period of illness or at the beginning of the cycle.
  • Injuries in the initial stage – sprains in the back, shoulders and forearm muscles prevent proper exercise, which means that the training will not be effective and will aggravate the situation.

The presence of a small number of general contraindications and the absence of specific ones indicates that the rowing machine is a good option for home cardio training, suitable for the vast majority of users.


  1. Rowing exercises involve all muscle groups. The load on the body is in this proportion: 60% on the bottom and 40% on the top, contrary to popular misconceptions that the simulator trains only the body and arms. During the rowing movements actively works the back, chest, arms, shoulders, abs, as well as the muscles of the hips and calves.
  2. The energy expenditure is up to 8 kcal per minute, which is more than that of jogging on a treadmill and on open ground. Due to the high energy expenditure, the rowing machine is great for weight loss at home.
  3. Accelerating the metabolism and getting in shape quickly compared to other aerobic exercise machines. Unlike a stepper, elliptical, or treadmill, a rowing machine provides power to the muscles, increasing their strength and shaping their relief. In the end, you get two bonuses: you get your body pumped up and your health improved.

Since “House of Cards,” rowing machines have grown in popularity around the world. The main character Frank Underwood used the machine to keep in shape at home. And if before the heroes of the movies worked out, mainly on treadmills, the appearance on the screens of a rowing machine instantly attracted the attention of the public and the popularity of rowing machines has grown many times over.


Running, aerobics, and cardio are considered an effective way to lose weight, because they are more energy-efficient than strength training. But the combination of strength and cardio greatly accelerates the process. A rowing machine provides a full aerobic and anaerobic load (depending on the resistance), which allows you not only to lose weight, but also to strengthen the muscles of the whole body.


Working out on a rowing machine involves the entire body, evenly strengthening major muscle groups. Let’s see which muscles work the most intensely:

  • The broadest, straightest, rhomboidal and trapezius muscles of the back
  • Big pecs
  • Shoulder deltoids
  • triceps and biceps arms
  • forearm muscles
  • abs
  • thighs quadriceps
  • leg calf muscles

The back, chest and shoulder girdle are activated to the maximum, which is very important for men. The load on the legs is comparable to the work on the leg press, which will appeal to women who want to acquire a beautiful relief of the thighs and calves.


You cannot work on a rowing machine by inertia, because you need to concentrate on each movement. Follow the instructions to develop the correct rowing technique:

  • In the starting position, your legs are bent and resting on the base of the rowing machine, arms outstretched and holding the handle firmly. The back is straight, the body is slightly forward, and the shoulders are turned inward.
  • From the initial position, perform a leg push, simultaneously pulling the handle (rowing arms) to the body.
  • When your legs are fully straightened, pull the handle even closer to your chest, working with your back instead of your arms. In the final phase of the movement, the body will be slightly tilted back.
  • Return to the starting position by bending the legs at the knees.

There are many rowing machine training programs today, but only by knowing the correct rowing technique will you be able to perform them effectively.


In spite of the fact that the rowing machine is referred to cardio machines, its load is equal to anaerobic, especially if you increase the resistance force. By performing complex multi-joint movements on a rowing machine, you engage all significant muscle groups, which results in a high caloric expenditure during the workout.

The combination of aerobic and anaerobic load, active involvement of the upper and lower body, high calorie expenditure – all this makes a rowing machine an effective option for losing weight at home. And an additional factor: people with a lot of extra weight can work on a rowing machine, which is not always possible on a treadmill or an ellipsoid.


It is generally believed that the rowing machine is suitable only for men, because it involves more of the top, not the bottom of the body. But it is proven that the load on the simulator is distributed almost evenly. That is why it is useful for absolutely everyone, regardless of sex, age and build.

The rowing machine is suitable:

  • Those who want to lose weight, as it allows them to burn 400 to 800 kcal per workout
  • People recovering from serious illnesses and injuries
  • people with a lot of overweight and problematic joints
  • people who want to strengthen their cardiovascular system
  • those who run and do other cardio exercises to keep fit in the off-season
  • Anyone who wants to maintain a figure at home

Cardio is suitable for aerobic and anaerobic training, as on most devices you can choose a program of activities, varying the speed of movement and resistance force. In addition, it can be used to exercise the delts and triceps, working only with the handle, without connecting the legs.


  1. Learn proper rowing technique before you start rowing. It is recommended to watch a video from professionals or take a personal lesson from a coach.
  2. During the training you should not rush, make sudden or unsynchronous movements. To perform exercises correctly, you should concentrate only on the movements, not distracted by extraneous noise or running TV.
  3. During the movements, the back is not rounded, with correct technique, only the shoulders are forward, which are straightened in the final point.
  4. There are two basic movements you can perform on the simulator: short stroke and long stroke. In the first one, the back stays straight at the end point, and in the second one, it is deflected back to the full amplitude. If you want to use your back muscles, do the second variant, if you want to use arms and chest, do the first one.
  5. Do not forget to increase the load with each week of training, otherwise the muscles will adapt and progress will stop.
  6. Train from 20 minutes to an hour 3-4 times a week. If you train less, you will have to wait a long time for the result.
  7. Exercise in comfortable sportswear and shoes to set yourself up for the workout and ensure comfort during the exercise.
  8. Keep water nearby, as cardio workouts lead to rapid dehydration.
  9. Do not watch TV while exercising, otherwise you will not be able to concentrate on the movements and the workout will not be beneficial.
  10. During training you can listen to music, especially calm tracks. The specificity of rowing implies a measured and average pace of movement, so too fast and energetic music can affect your concentration and coordination of movements.


The key difference between a rowing machine and an ellipsoid, treadmill, exercise bike and stepper is the specifics of movement. If in all the above cardio machines the main part of the load is on the lower body, the rowing machine intensively involves the body and arms.

  • The ability to strengthen the arms and back is the main advantage of this cardio machine, which attracts not only men, but also women.
  • The rowing machine has absolutely no impact load on the knees, and it is also absolutely safe for the ankle, which allows you to keep your joints healthy.
  • In terms of energy consumption a rowing machine is much superior to other types of cardio machines, so it is suitable for weight loss, shape maintenance and relief work.

Considering the features and advantages of the rowing machine, it can be called a universal option compared to other cardio machines.


Given the considerable price of rowing machines, you should be careful in choosing a variant for the home. We suggest paying attention to the most important characteristics in order to choose the most convenient, practical and compact model for home training.


The key criterion for choosing a trainer is its mechanism, which affects not only the price, but also the convenience of using the device. There are 4 widespread types of rowing machine mechanisms:

  • Mechanical. The device is driven by hydraulic cylinders, which act on the flywheel, changing the level of resistance. Training on it as much as possible resembles a real rowing because of the noise and unevenness of the load. Its advantages are low price, ease of assembly and operation.
  • Magnetic. This trainer drives a flywheel with a magnet, which works almost noiselessly, which is one of the advantages of this mechanism. Of the additional advantages: the ability to vary the load, the increased maximum user weight compared to mechanical devices, the display for the output of sports performance and training data.
  • Electromagnetic. This type of exerciser is connected to the power grid, works silently and has a high-precision onboard computer. An advanced mechanism allows you to choose the level of load, as well as monitor physical indicators during the workout. Of the disadvantages: the need to be connected to the mains.


  • Scandinavian traction implies the presence of two handles, which serve as a substitute for oars in rowing. This design gives you all the benefits of real rowing and gives you a good workout for your arms, shoulders and back.
  • The central pull has one central handle that moves in a single plane. This option is ideal for beginners, as it does not require any specific hand movement, the handle is simply drawn to the body.


By design, exercisers are divided into one-piece and folding. One-piece models are highly stable, most of them can be stored in an upright position. Folding models save even more space, besides, their assembly does not require tools, and the process itself will take no more than 5 minutes.

When assembled, the dimensions of the rowing machine are up to 2 m in length, which is explained by the specifics of the mechanism. When choosing a model one should pay attention to the stability of the construction and sufficient length of the frame, especially if all family members plan to exercise on the rowing machine.


Adjustment of all significant elements allows you to adjust the trainer “by yourself”, which is important for effective training.

Modern magnetic, electromagnetic and aeromagnetic models usually have the ability to adjust the seat, levers (for Nordic traction) and leg rests. The last option is one of the most important because the distance between the stops and their placement must be comfortable for the person.


When buying this type of machine it is necessary to check the quality of chains and ropes of rowing arms, because the comfort of training depends on their strength. The cables should not be elastic, too weak or very thin. Always check the quality of the cables and other fasteners on the spot or check with your retailer what they are made of when ordering from the online store.


The frame of the trainer can be made of metal or wood. The latter option is used in models with a water type of engine. Regardless of the type of frame (one-piece or folding), the construction must look monolithic and reliable.

Stability depends on the width of the lower supports, as well as on the weight of the simulator itself. The weight of the structure is determined by the type of mechanism and the maximum weight of the user. The lightest models are mechanical and magnetic.


The display of magnetic trainers displays a minimum of information: distance, calories burned, speed and training time, frequency of strokes and their power. Electromagnetic models will show a wider range of indicators, especially if equipped with cardio sensors.

Today you can also find smart models that connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and to your computer via USB. In this way, you can save workout information to track your results and improve them.


Heart rate sensors in the handlebars (or chest attachments on some models) let you keep track of your heart rate during your workout and keep it in the right cardio zone. The heart rate sensor data appears on the display.

Many of the settings on the control panel depend on the presence of the cardiac sensor, such as recovery tests by which you can determine your body’s physical condition.


The way loads are adjusted depends on the complexity of the mechanism of the device. A distinction is made between step and continuous adjustment. The first is found in mechanical and inexpensive magnetic models, continuous – in electric and aeromagnetic.

Continuous allows you to adjust the trainer individually to the user. There are also models with a multistage adjustment system, which is also considered to be no less effective.


Built-in programs not only add variety to the training process, but also allow you to exercise purposefully, working out certain muscle groups.

Among the most popular programs: universal cardio workout, weight loss mode, muscle tone. The more programs integrated into a simulator, the more opportunities to achieve individual fitness goals.


The silent exerciser is an ideal purchase for the home. Among rowing machines, electromagnetic and magnetic models are considered the least noisy. They are the ones that are optimal for home use.

Electromagnetic trainers for home use are connected to the 220 V mains and do not depend on other batteries. There are also rechargeable models that work without connecting to the network, but require periodic recharging of the battery. The second option is more advantageous, since it does not require constant connection to a power outlet.


The characteristics of each rowing machine specify the maximum weight of the user, which is not recommended to exceed for safety reasons.

There are categories: up to 100 kg, up to 120 kg, up to 140 kg and above. If the maximum permissible weight is exceeded, the rowing machine may malfunction.

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