Water rowing machines – what’s so special about them and how do they function?
Water rowing machines use actual water in order to give the resistance you need when working out. The blades within the wheel are submerged in water, and this is designed to replicate the feel of pushing water with an oar. The rowers on our list (and some other water rowers) have a reputation as giving a realistic feel. They are great for people who also do real rowing, or just those who want to give themselves a challenging workout.
If you fill the tank with water, you will feel the same speeding up and slowing down process as you would with actual rowing, and gives a good level of cardio and strength workout to your body.
Many people are in agreement that these types of machines are better than other rowing machines, but it is vital that you consider the benefits of using water. If you buy a magnetic rower then you might find that you don’t get the same level of workout, and they certainly don’t prepare people as well for rowing out on the water. For high intensity interval training, water rowers are definitely superior as the resistance can change along with your actions, rather than having to manually set a magnetic resistance.
Features to consider while choosing a water rowing machine
The features below are those we consider the most important when it comes to choosing the right water rowing machine, these are what we have mainly based our reviews on. Make sure you’ve understood the features before making your purchase, and work out what is best for you. For instance, if you are big and tall, you might need to establish the best water rower that can accommodate you based on size.
Water tank capacity
How much water can be held within your rowing machine? This is one of the key features when considering the resistance. Some of the water rowers have a convenient switch to let you choose resistance, but others may do it all based on how much water is in the tank.
To alter the resistance it might be best that you actually alter the amount of water within. In many cases, more water will make it feel like rowing on a real body of water such as a lake.
Tank capacities of 3 or 4 gallons aren’t uncommon. Our editor’s choice, the GYMAX Water Rowing Machine SP36854
has a 4 gallon capacity. Obviously, larger capacities will also take up far more space.
The water tank does add some extra maintenance, we cover this in more detail below, but generally speaking if you are looking to get a water rowing machine you will need to replace the water from time to time or use special treatment products to keep the water in good condition.
Water tank blades
The water tank blades are what move against the water to deal with the resistance and cause the “propulsion” feel to the rowing machine. It’s important that the blades are high-quality and don’t break, an issue here would be fatal for your rowing machine. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5713 has 16 high-quality hydro blades.
How many different levels of resistance are there? It is ideal if you are able to change the water rowing machine resistance levels, and in the water-rower reviews we have mentioned the levels of resistance that can be set for each rowing machine.
As mentioned, some need to be set manually with the water that is added, but others have the ability to flick a switch to change how hard the resistance is, it’s a good idea to have multiple levels and as you get stronger and fitter you may wish to increase the levels to give a better workout.
You don’t need lots of different levels of resistance to have a good workout, but it is good to have some extra control.
The rail length means the length of the area the seat moves along, and if you are particularly tall you will need to ensure you have a large enough rail length to suit you. Some of the models might become an issue if you are well over 180cm and you might not be as comfortable when you are moving along the machine. Your body needs plenty of space to do the workout properly.
Once again, this is a consideration based on the size of the user, and how much they weigh. Most of the rowing machines on this list can handle people up to 250lb and maybe even a little more, as for example the GYMAX Water Rowing Machine, so it shouldn’t matter if you are slightly larger in size, if you are bigger than this, you may need to opt for a specific water-rower with a high capacity to handle your weight and provide a proper workout with no risk of breaking the machine.
Dimensions and weight
How big is the rowing machine itself? Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5713 is one of the models on our list that is actually off the ground and has a slightly higher profile than a lot of the other rowers, this means that you might find it tough to store if you don’t have much space. All of the rowers we have recommended are great for stacking up against a wall, so they are perfect if you need something to fit in your garage.
Storage is often made easier by the fact that water rowing machines are usually designed with wheels, which you can use to roll them back into position or to store in another room, for example.
Obviously, if you want to get a smaller model of water rower then there is a sacrifice to be made as you might not get one that can fit larger people, if you are over six foot then getting one of the smallest rowing machines on the market is not advisable.
Naturally, a longer warranty is better than a short warranty. It is always a good idea to protect your purchase for as long as you possibly can. Warranties of one year are pretty standard with a lot of exercise and fitness equipment. You might find a little longer, or you may have to pay extra for protection for multiple years, some manufacturers offer schemes for extended warranties if you are worried about breakage.
Water rowers are generally more expensive than magnetic rowers, but this is mainly due to the fact that they have a more realistic feel, combined with being more expensive to produce. If you were to explore the top end of the market you could potentially spend thousands. Some water rowing machines even involve full tanks for people to get in. Actually, the products on the cheap end of the market might be a few hundred dollars, and though they’re more than magnetic rowers, the workout can be better for HIIT and for those who need the feel of rowing on water.
Most water rowing machines are stored upright.
So, the horizontal position is the “workout” position, and they can then be tilted 90 degrees and rolled to where you wish to store them. This can make them a great choice for a home gym, as some other exercise equipment is not possible to store this easily, and it is likely to take up a lot more space.
If you are storing like this, be careful not to mark the wall, some of the rowing machines advise that it is actually rested upon the wall.
Are you looking to track your workout in detail while you are on your water rower? It is vital that you consider the workout you are doing, especially if you are serious about burning calories or becoming a better rower. You may well want to keep an eye on a lot of the different aspects of your rowing. For example, you might want to know the speed, distance travelled and more. Some can even process information like your heart rate and the ambient temperature to help you to get more scientific data about the workout.
All of the models on our list of the top water rowers have some form of LCD screen, and some of them are adjustable to ensure you can see at every point of your workout.