Are Rowing Machines Worth Buying?
The idea of having a rowing machine in your home for quick cardio exercises is tempting for most people. But they can be expensive, which begs the question are rowing machines really worth buying? And what are the best rowing machines?
To answer the question, rowing machines are worth buying if you’re looking to lose weight and build muscle from the comfort of your home.
It saves you a trip to the gym (save money on gas and gym memberships) and you can workout at any time. In short, buying a rowing machine is a great idea. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend our best indoor rowing machines later on in this post.
Are Rowing Machines a Good Workout?
When it comes to exercise equipment, rowing machines are often at the bottom of the list. The number one recommended choice are treadmills, but rowing machines can be just as effective, if not more so.
To answer the question, when using a rowing machine you can quickly burn calories, sometimes even more than you would burn with other cardio exercise equipment.
What you need to know about rowing machines is the row is a compound movement, in other words, multiple groups of muscles work together. As a matter of fact, almost every muscle in your body is hit when you use rowing machines, granted you use proper form.
Most people assume rowing machines are only good for back-exercises, but that’s not the case. The row hits practically all major muscles in your upper body, and you can even feel it in your hamstrings as well.
Here’s a list of some of the muscles worked from a rowing machine:
- Pectorals (Chest)
As you can see, the row hits almost every muscle in your upper body. The exercise doesn’t directly focus on every muscle above, but it does carry over a bit, making it very effective.
Long story short, when used correctly, a rowing machine can be one of the best cardio workouts you have.
Rowing for Physical Therapy:
If you’re struggling with physical therapy and need to improve joint health or strengthen muscles, a rowing machine could be just what you need.
Before you dive in, make sure you know the proper rowing form. If possible, ask a professional to show you the correct form, or at the very least, watch videos.
The great thing about rowing machines is you can start with the easiest setting and move up from there, as your muscles adapt. Keep it slow and steady and avoid jerky movements.
You have probably seen rowing machines in gyms with multiple pegs for weight, ranging from a few pounds to over 200. These might seem a little intimidating and you wrote them off as too difficult.
Quick Rowing Tips:
- Learn The Correct Form
- Drive With Your Legs
- Don’t Arch your back
- Take it Slow, no quick movements
- Use Light Weight, at First
On the other hand, indoor rowing machines are very easy to use, and they don’t have super-heavy levels. There are even some rowing machines with no adjustable settings which are perfect for people who need to familiarize themselves with the rowing movement.
In other words, rowing machines let you take it at your pace, without worrying about exerting too much effort, at least at first. Great for strengthening core muscles.
In short, rowing can be great for physical therapy, as long as you keep it slow and don’t use a too challenging setting when you start.
Another benefit of a rowing machine is you can use the machine to stretch your back and core muscles.
Best Indoor Rowing Machines:
Now that we covered the basics of rowing machines, in this section you’ll learn what we think are the best indoor rowing machines:
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Now this rowing machine is on the higher end, often found in most upscale gyms. In fact, it is one of the most popular indoor rowing machines on the planet.
We won’t cover all of the features of this rowing machine here (and there are a lot) but we’ll run through the basics.
This model is a little bit different because it is an air rowing machine, which uses a flywheel for the resistance. Much like the magnetic rowers, this one is almost completely silent and smooth. Speaking of resistance, there are 10 resistance levels.
Surprisingly, the Model D only weighs 70 pounds, making it remarkably easy to transport and store. The product can also be easily separated into two pieces, which you can store in a corner of a room with no hassles.
Overall, this is one of the best indoor rowing machines, and I highly recommend it. When it comes to exercise equipment, it’s usually best to invest a little more money to get the most value.
For more details and prices, check Amazon.
2. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower
Our favorite rowing machine is Merax Magnetic exercise rower, for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s small and light, making it easy transport or move from room to room.
The shipping weight is about 100 pounds, which may seem heavy at first, however, when compared to other rowing machines, it’s a reasonable weight. The best part is it has wheels on the back so you can easily roll it from room to room.
Secondly – and this is my favorite feature – the Merax Magnetic Exercise rower has eight levels of resistance. To change them, simply twist the knob on the front, until the marker aligns with the setting you want.
What customers love most about this indoor rowing machine is the silent mechanics, which makes it easy to workout in the early mornings without disturbing anyone. Most people mention the only sound you can hear comes from the padding on the chair when in use.
Overall, the Merax Magnetic exercise rower is an excellent starter indoor rowing machine. It’s not too expensive, easy to install, has enough features for quick workouts, and it’s incredibly silent. One downside is the low quality LCD screen.
Check the price on Amazon.
3. (NS-40503RW) Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine
This is a budget indoor rowing machine, a perfect choice for beginners who don’ have cash to drop on a professional machine.
The Marcy Magnetic rowing machine is similar to the previous model, but with a couple of interesting features.
For starters, the LCD screen is quite large, and provides some interesting information about your workout session, such as, calories burned, progress, timers, and more. The cool part is the screen is multi-angle, which means you can easily adjust it to eye level.
What people love about this model (besides the price) are the foldable mechanics. You can fold the entire machine upwards, which makes it very easy to store. No need to worry about a bulking machine getting in the way! And the shipping weight is only 65 pounds.
Another great feature are the two pedals. These pedals include a Velcro straps as well as anti-slip rubber. Very comfortable.
Like most magnetic rowing machines, this one has eight levels of resistance that can be adjusted with a knob. I noticed the settings are a bit too easy for me, so I normally leave it at the maximum, level eight.
Overall, a decent rowing machine for beginners and people on a budget. For the price, it’s hard to beat. Check Amazon for the price.
Those three models are what I consider to be the best indoor rowing machines.
Cons of Rowing Machines:
In my experience, using a rowing machine is completely safe, and even if you don’t use exact form, the risk of injury is very low.
On the other hand, as a physical therapist I discovered rowing machines can cause lower back pain, especially in elderly patients. You need to keep in mind there is no lower back (or lumbar) support, so if you have spine or back issues, it might not be the best choice.
Bottom line, they’re not for everyone, but most people do benefit from them and believe the investment is worth it.
As a suggestion, I recommend trying out rowing machines first, either at a gym or an exercise equipment store. See if you like the feel and how it works, and then make a decision. Worse scenario you have to return a rowing machine because it doesn’t suit your needs.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if rowing machines are worth it. In my experience, most people love indoor rowing machines.
But if you decide to buy a rowing machine, I recommend investing a bit more money to get a high quality model that will last. Usually budget rowing machines won’t stand the tests of time and prolonged use.
With that in mind, I hope now you understand how rowing machines work and you’re closer to getting one for your home. Thanks for taking the time to read this article.
Got any questions? Leave them below!