Rowing on water ranks high among the best sports to improve your cardio fitness. Rowing also increases endurance, tones your body, and offers a serious health boost.
If for whatever reason, you prefer getting your exercise indoors – you’re in luck. Modern rowing machines provide the same benefits as the sport, except, you can enjoy the activity in the comfort of your home gym.
While the air rower or hydraulic rowing machines notoriously produce a rather choppy movement, water rowers make use of water resistance to deliver a smooth rowing workout experience.
The best part is that some water rowing machines look so sleek and stylish, that you’d be glad to keep yours on display in the living room.
Brands are coming up with ever more sophisticated models all the time. Finding the best water rowing machine can be a daunting task, so we’ve done the research for you. Check out our list of the best water rowers to buy in Australia.
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Top 10 Water Rowers
1. Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
Style and functionality fuse perfectly in this smartly designed water rowing machine. It boasts an adjustable resistance switch to easily shift between resistance levels mid-workout.
Most importantly, this rower uses one of the best water resistance systems that delivers noticeably consistent resistance during each stroke.
A sturdy, tempered steel frame lines the sleek, natural wood construction for a perfect combination of aesthetic value and durability.
The brand name should ring a bell to gym-goers since many Life Fitness products find their way to commercial fitness centres. This rower fully lives up to the high-quality expectation and its price tag. It delivers professional-grade performance while keeping a compact and elegant enough appearance for your home space.
The LCD monitor isn’t backlit, but the numbers are easy to read. Users can purchase a wireless chest strap separately for tracking the heart rate, which is otherwise not included among the performance monitor values.
Overall, the Row HX Trainer easily rounds off as the best water rowing machine to buy in Australia.
2. DEAR-JY’s Water Resistance Rowing Machine
A great machine for home use with a compact, foldable design. You can fold this indoor rower using one hand as it glides effortlessly and locks into a convenient resting state.
This is a budget rower that features a durable water tank made of aviation-grade materials and excellent slip-resistant, one-piece handles.
One thing to note is that it does not offer adjustable resistance functionality.
3. YZT QUEEN’s Foldable Water Rowing Machine
Another fully foldable, compact water rowing machine, but this one comes in an elegant wood frame. You can choose between several wood tones to have it fit your furniture.
It features a professional-grade water resistance system and ergonomic construction. You can fold it into a triangle and easily push it into any corner. With the successful combination of sleek appearance and functionality, this is one of the best water resistance rowing machines out there.
Highlights: Additional transportation wheels to easily push it around while folded or in a vertical position.
4. TINSAHW’s Rowing Machine with LCD Display
If you appreciate a heavy-duty build, then this is the right machine for you. A sturdy metal rail protects the water flywheel made of double-layer makrolon. With a quiet drive and a 200 kilos maximum user weight capacity.
Highlights: The smart LCD monitor on this indoor rowing machine provides a wide range of workout data. Track your strokes per minute or calories burned to tailor the best rowing workout.
5. ZAIHW’s Wooden Water Rower
If you prefer a more vintage look, this wooden water rowing machine could be your choice. It comes with all the standard features, from the LCD display showing basic workout readings to an assembly instructions manual. While it doesn’t fold in any way, its rubber wheels make storing it vertically after training sessions easy.
Highlights: Features a large and comfortable seat with an excellent glide action.
6. YZT QUEEN’s Ash Wood Water Rowing Machine
A beautiful wood frame that comes in several wood tones and a transparent flywheel, where the water visibly splashes around as you row. Made of quality US ash wood and aviation-grade polycarbonate for the water tank.
A potential con is that it is a rather bulky structure despite its full triangle fold option.
7. Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge Water Rower
Here’s a simple, black, metal water rower for those who know what they want. With every rowing stroke, you can feel the fluid and consistent resistance without it peaking mid-stroke.
While it doesn’t fold, it’s easy to move around and store vertically. Obsidian Surge 500 is especially low-maintenance when compared to the wooden alternatives.
Highlights: A stylish water flywheel in black that matches its overall modern design and adjustable seat height.
8. TSQ Smart Water Resistance Rowing Machine
A funky looking water rowing machine with a wood frame in walnut tone. The huge flywheel is really in the focus of this design. Being able to see the water swooshing around in the water tank as you row adds to the experience.
It features a smartphone holder in the centre, while the performance monitor sits on the right side. It’s extra quiet for water rowing machines, making this a great piece of exercise equipment.
While it comes with no warranty, the manufacturer offers a full money-back guarantee.
9. Drohneks’s White Oak Rowing Machine
With this wooden water rower by Drohneks, we get to a whole new level of aesthetic appeasement. This super stylish machine comes in vintage oak and walnut tones for a perfect fusion in different interiors.
Highlights: The product comes with an indoor rowing guide to get the rookies started.
Cons: An ordinary seat design with a slippery seat finish.
10. YFFSS Stainless Steel Indoor Water Rower
Last but not least, here comes another excellent rowing machine in the heavy-duty category. Made of quality stainless steel, it combines a strong build with an easy-to-fold design. With smaller dimensions and a moderate weight capacity of 120 kilos, this is a solid compact machine for home use, especially for women.
Highlights: A sturdy steel frame and unique triangular construction make it extra steady and secure.
Cons: A rather basic LCD screen showing simply time, distance and calories burned.
What Is Water Rowing?
Water rowers are the perfect affordable way of getting your share of low-impact cardio exercise at home. Besides burning calories and improving fitness, you also get to tone your whole body. All major muscle groups get busy during a water rowing workout, making these machines especially high value.
The rowing exercise is simultaneously static and active because your core stays fixed in a seated position, while your arms and legs do the workout.
Primarily great for cardio, rowing is unique because it requires heavy muscle engagement, but it doesn’t involve placing weight on the legs. Rowing workouts can get every major muscle group moving, or more than 80% of the muscles in your body.
There’re several types of indoor rowing machines, which all strive to give you a great water rowing workout. The only problem is that many of them have little to do with water.
Air rowing machines, for instance, use air resistance to achieve that opposing force that helps you work your muscles. While you still get a good exercise with air rowers, it feels little like actual rowing. For that, you need to go for an indoor water rowing machine.
The main part of a water rowing machine is found in the front, the so-called flywheel. It contains a water tank with paddles that spin and generate resistance as they push on the water.
Pulling the handles faster increases the resistance. As it becomes harder for the paddles to move, you need to invest more strength to continue rowing. The advantage of this unique design that mimics natural rowing on the water is that the resistance depends on your physical strength.
Resistance is one of the essential features to consider when comparing the best water rowing machines out there.
Alternative types of rowing machines use air, magnets, or other techniques to generate resistance. Logically, a water rower uses water for resistance. Water provides the most natural, consistent indoor rowing resistance that simulates rowing on water.
Look for a water rowing machine that uses adjustable water resistance technology. Having an adjustable resistance level is important. As you follow your workout metrics, you can make use of dynamic adjustment to your exact fitness goals, level and training progression.
High-quality water rowing machines usually allow you to change the resistance level with the help of a dial. This makes it easy and convenient to adjust during a workout.
Other models require more work to achieve this. To change resistance levels, you need to tweak the water level by manually adding or removing water from the tank. This limits you to one level only per workout. Ultimately, some rowers are very limited when it comes to adjustable resistance. You should only buy rowers without variable water resistance levels if they offer other functionalities you need, such as compactness.
Standard-design water rowers don’t fold. They’re usually meant to stay put the whole time, although most can be lifted into a vertical position for storage. Before locking up a deal on a particular piece you like, first, make sure you have the necessary workout space. This leads us to the next point.
As the above list demonstrates, many water rowing machines feature well-designed wood or metal frames. They look sophisticated and fit nicely into the ambience of a modern living room. So, if you have that space, don’t hesitate to reserve a public spot for your new piece of fitness equipment.
Despite falling in a rather high-end price range, water rowing machines make for an excellent value-for-money investment. Water rowing remains one of the most affordable ways to get the perfect, low-impact full-body workout at home.
Water Rowers vs Magnetic Rowers
Magnetic rowing machines have two magnets inside the flywheel tasked with generating the resistance as they move against each other. Most importantly, resistance is thus created without friction, which provides for consistent movement with similar smoothness to that of water rowers. Still, nothing beats water rowers in giving you a perfectly even and fluid motion.
The advantage of magnetic rowing machines lies in their super-quiet operation. On the other hand, with high-end water rowers, the swooshing sounds of the machine usually add to the water rowing experience as it resembles a boat moving through water.
On the downside, magnetic rowers have a fixed resistance in the sense that the resistance level won’t depend on the stroke rate or on how much power you invest. You have to manually adjust the resistance level. With water rowers, the intensity of the resistance adjusts automatically, depending on how fast you can row. The faster you row, the more difficult it becomes to pull a stroke.
Can You Lose Belly Fat on a Rowing Machine?
Definitely. One of the advantages of rowing is safe and sustainable weight loss. As an aerobic exercise, it helps you burn calories and reduce excess fat. As a low-impact workout, though, water rowing provides for gradual weight loss, without overwhelming the joints.
Are Water Rowers Better Than Magnetic?
Most would agree that water rowing feels different than magnetic rowing. As a beginner, you may not notice anything. It all boils down to personal preference after all, and you are getting an excellent machine either way. However, water rowers are widely considered to produce a more realistic rowing movement.
The Bottom Line
You can’t go wrong by investing in a water rower this year, since this is one of the best pieces of home gym equipment you can pick. It helps you burn calories, gives you a full-body cardio workout, tones muscles and builds endurance while being a fully low impact exercise.
A magnetic rower also provides a smooth and quiet rowing movement that may work for some. The water rowing type, however, offers you an unmatched rowing experience that closely resembles the actual boat movement.
Photo credits: Waterrower / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)