Home Rowing Machines - What to Choose, What to Buy, Workouts

Indoor rowing machines are safe, satisfying and fabulous ways to workout at home because they exercise virtually the entire body at the same time: legs, arms, lower back, chest, abs shoulders - all while you are in a restful seated position. An indoor rowing machines makes an ideal cardio-vascular activity with proven benefits, and can be used for building muscle strength, and as an aid to bodybuilding and athletics. The simple rowing motion provides a low impact form of exercise that is safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. You can even use it as a way of building-up to doing outdoor rowing on the local river or lake.

High quality rowing machines are relatively cheap compared to home-gyms and exercise bikes, making them an ideal choice for those on a budget! The only negative comment is that while rowing is generally good for backs, the rowing action could aggravate an existing lower back condition, and those people with these issues should consult a trainer, physiotherapist of a doctor.

Like any exercise, you need to learn how to do it properly, and to ease into it to avoid injury. For example many newcomers set the resistance too high and this tires them too quickly and risks muscle strains. The exercise should be enjoyable - tough without straining. See the staged workouts below.

The Benefits of Rowing

Rowing is renowned for being the second best exercise in terms of overall muscle management, using over 80% of the body's muscles.The only one better is cross-country skiing. It also flexes most of the body's joints through a beneficial and wide range of movements with virtually no jarring impact. You can do all of this indoors in your own home, when, and how often you like. You can do it watching TV or a video, listening to music, much more easily than with other home exercises. There are lots of great programs available and devoices for monitoring your workout and performance. Rowing is an ideal exercise for various purposes:

  • Weight loss programs
  • Aerobics and cardiovascular fitness
  • Building muscle strength and body tone
  • Supporting exercise for body-building
  • Developing muscle strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Supporting team sports training and competitive athletes
  • People recovering from injuries
  • People of any age - suitable for the whole family.

Choosing the Correct Indoor Rowing Machine

There are four styles of rowing machine to choose from:

Hydraulic resistance - is created by using shock- absorbers, similar to those that are used on a car. They have many advantages - they are effective, easily adjustable, and take up the least space of all resistance methods.

Air Rowers - Also referred to as flywheel rowers, these units depend on resistance provided by a propeller and wind, with the added bonus of the breeze it creates. The. The resistance can be changed to alter the amount the pulling effort required to move the blades. At present the Concept 2 air rower is probably one of the most popular air resistance rowing machines on the market.

Water Rowers - The concept behind the water resistant rowing machines is to simulate the dynamics of a boat in water moving through water. When rowing blades are pushed through a tank of water and this creates the resistance. There are various designs including the Waterrower range and the First Degree Fluid Rower style. These machines are very quiet to use and the resistance is consistent.

Magnetic Rowers - These rowing machines are very popular in gyms and are similar to the magnetic resistance systems in indoor exercise bikes. They offer a highly variable resistance system and smooth rowing. The resistance can be easily adjusted. They are virtually and the magnetic brake system has a long life (but they don't last forever). The Kettler Coach rower is a very popular model of magnetic resistance rower.

What to look for when Choosing a Rowing Machine

Standard of Construction - Look for a high quality design that is all-metal, with an aluminium seat rail for lightness. Try sitting on the seat, and make sure there is no flexing of any part of the frame as you apply weight on it. The frame should feel sturdy and stable and the seat should slide easily with no roughness or variable resistance. Check that the design can handle your weight and height.

Braking System - Rowers that use magnetic or mechanical braking tend to feel less smooth than the top quality water and air rowers. Air rowers provide high quality movement, but can be a somewhat noisy. Water rowers are smooth and make a soothing swishing sound that many rowers like.

Transmission - Look for chains, cables or straps, which give you a firm and positive feel with the oar action. There should not be any stretching or 'springiness' as you pull the oar cable.

Quality and Smoothness of Movement - Look for a rower that provides smooth and even feel when rowing with no jerkiness and even resistance right through the stroke. Check particularly at the beginning of the stroke, where some machines can be jerky, which is annoying. Check over the full range of the movements for a range of body extensions. Check that you can complete a full stroke using various arm and back positions.

Console Options and Ease of Use - Check to see that all the options that you need now and in the future are available. Check that the display is clear, comprehensive and can be read when rowing. Check how easy it is to access programmes and that the buttons and dials are large enough and easy to use.

Seat Comfort - Check that the seat is comfortable at all points of the rowing position and over along period of time (1000m or 30 minutes). This is very important as there is nothing worse than an uncomfortable seat and there is virtually nothing you can do about it.

Oar Handle Grip - Check that oar grip feel comfortable to hold and matches your hand size? Does it provide a good grip, does not slip even when your hands are becoming sweaty and tired. Hand blisters can ruin a training program.

Footplate Comfort and Adjustments - Check that your feet (and shoes if you wear them) can be securely and comfortably secured in the footplates.

Overall Dimensions - Rowing tend to have a long, narrow footprint, especially if they do not fold, and so make sure that the dimensions of the specifications will fit comfortably in your workout space.

Warranty - Most indoor rowing machines are well make but things can go wrong so always read the fine print of the warranty especially for expensive machines. Always check what's covered: frame, seat, transmission, brakes and electronics to avoid and surprises.

Do your Research and Compare Rowing Machine Features, Prices and Reviews

Start with an idea of the features you want and then compare features and specifications within your price range. Always put strength of construction and reliability ahead of software enhancements, many of which you may not use. Tracking your progress and workouts can always be stored on your computer or smartphone. Always read the reviews for the range of models on your short less. Look for break-downs, warranty issues and features that have disappointed or would have liked to be included. Perhaps you should look at a higher performance model.

Shown below is table comparing various models, their features and indicative prices (sorted by indicative price)

© janderson99-HubPages

Workout Guide

Workout 1

  • Row for 5 minutes at an easy pace with a stroke rate of between 24 and 28 spm (strokes per minute).
  • Stop, stretch and walk for 5 minutes.
  • Row for 5 more at an easy pace.
  • Then walk for 5 minutes again.

Workout 2

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes.
  • Row at an easy pace for 10 minutes
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes.

Workout 3

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • For the next 5 minutes follow this routine: Row 10 strokes (Power Tens) at higher intensity at a stroke rate between 24 - 28 spm at the start of each minute. Use your back, legs and arm muscles to draw the handle back toward your body more forcefully and quickly. Do this five time in five minutes.
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes.

Workout 4

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • Row for 5 minutes at a moderate pace
  • Do 5 minutes of Power Tens each minute ( as described above), followed by 5 minutes of easy rowing
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes to warm-down

Workout 5

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • Row for 10 minutes, gradual increase the intensity.
  • For the next 10 minutes, alternate 1 minute of harder rowing, with 1 minute of easier rowing Finish up with a cool-down of 5 minutes easy rowing.
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes to warm-down

Rest Day

  • Have a rest day to avoid over-doing it

Workout 6

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • Row at a steady pace for about 20 minutes.
  • Watch the distance meter and after every 500 meters or 5 minutes, take a Power Ten. Continue for another set if you are feeling good.
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes to warm-down

Workout 7

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • Row for 10 minutes using a routine of 40 seconds hard rowing followed by 20 seconds of easy pace rowing.
  • Then row 5 minutes of steady rowing.
  • Row for another 5 minutes using a routine of 40 seconds hard rowing followed by 20 seconds of easy pace rowing.(40 : 20 rule).
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes to warm-down

Workout 8

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • Follow the 7 x 5's routine - 5 min easy pace, 5 min moderate pace, 5 min hard pace, 5 min moderate pace, 5 min hard pace, 5 min moderate pace, 5 min easy pace.
  • Then row 5 minutes of steady rowing.
  • Row for another 5 minutes using a routine of 40 seconds hard rowing followed by 20 seconds of easy pace rowing.(40 : 20 rule).
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes to warm-down

Workout 9

  • Row at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Walk and stretch for 3 minutes
  • This workout is a "time trial" to test on your progress. You should do it once a week or once and fortnight. Essentially you want to see how many meters you can row in 30 minutes, not by racing flat-out, but at a steady pace over the full thirty minutes. Your distance should improve considerably after a few weeks.
  • Stretch and walk for 5 minutes to warm-down

Table Comparing Various Modes, Their Features and Indicative Prices

Make/ Model
Type
Features
Indicative Price ($)
Stamina Trac Glider 1050
Hydraulic
--
148
Stamina 35-1050 Body Trac Glider Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Distance, Time, Calories
150
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Calories
250
Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Calories
250
Stamina Air Rower
Air
Folding
299
Kettler Favorit
Hydraulic
Pulse rate
399
Kettler Favorit Compact Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
399
LifeSpan RW1000
Multi-User
Folding
480
Stamina ATS Air Rower
Air
Speed, Distance, Time, Calories, Strokes,Strokes/min
499
Kettler Kadett Outrigger
Hydraulic
Folding, Pulse rate
549
Kettler Kadett Outrigger Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
599
ProRower H20 RX-750
Water
Folding, Pulse rate
699
BodyCraft VR100
Air/Multi-User,
Folding
699
First Degree Neptune
Water
Folding
699
LifeCore R88 Rower
Air/Multi-User,
Folding, Pulse rate, Race Boat
699
BodyCraft VR100 Rower
MAirgnetic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
700
H2O Fitness ProRower RX-750 Home Series Water Rower
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
700
Lifecore Fitness R88 Dual Mode Rowing Machine
MAirgnetic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Strokes/min, Calories
750
First Degree Fitness Neptune Rower
WAirter
Distance, Time, Strokes,Strokes/min, Calories/hour
798
First Degree Fitness Pacific Rower
WAirter
Distance, Time, Strokes, Strokes/min, Calories/Hour, Heart Rate
865
Concept2 Model D
Air
Multi-User, Pulse rate, PC ready, Race Boat
899
Lifecore Fitness R99 Dual Mode Rowing Machine
MAirgnetic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Strokes/min, Calories, Heart Rate
900
H2O Fitness ProRower RX-850 LTD Series Water Rower
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
900
Kettler Coach LS Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
999
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
1,095
WaterRower Club Rowing Machine
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
1,095
Concept2 Model E
Air/Multi-User,
Multi-User, Pulse rate, PC ready, Race Boat
1,260
WaterRower Oxbridge Rowing Machine
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
1,295
LifeCore R100 Rower
Air/Multi-User,
Multi-User, Pulse rate, PC ready, Race Boat
1,299
Lifecore Fitness R100 Rower
Air / MAirgnetic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
1,299
Kettler Ergo Coach LS Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
1,399
WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
1,495
WaterRower M1 LoRise Rowing Machine
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes,Calories, Heart Rate
1,695
First Degree Fitness E-216 Fluid Rower
WAirter
LCD with all options
1,699
Kettler X-Row E3 Rower
Piston / Hydraulic
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
2,399
WaterRower S1 Rowing Machine
WAirter
Speed, Distance, Time, Strokes, Calories, Heart Rate
2,500

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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