Water Vs Air Rowing Machines – Which is Best?

Water Vs Air Rowing Machines – Which is Best?
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Water vs Air Rowing Machines: Which is Best?

Rowing machines aren’t just great for aerobic or cardiovascular workouts, they also work out all your body’s major muscle groups. Having a rowing machine in the comfort of your home means that you can exercise when and how you want.

When it comes to choosing between the different types however, it can be difficult. Water rowing machines and air rowing machines are two of the most popular types and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. No matter which you end up choosing, you’re sure to find a rowing machine that will give you a great home workout.

Why Rowing Machines?

Rowing machines are a great way to workout, as they provide a low-impact alternative to activities like running or lifting heavy weights. They provide a smooth action for your body with an adjustable resistance, letting you work your whole body without too much risk of injury.

Rowing provides both lighter aerobic and higher intensity anaerobic exercise, meaning that it’s equally suited to burning fat or building muscle. There are many different types of workouts you can do with a rowing machine, which can help you target and achieve your fitness goals.

What Are the Best Types of Rowing Machines?

Modern rowing machines come in a variety of different types and are suited to people in all situations, with some options able to fold up and be stored vertically. Each type of rowing machine works on the same principles, but will differ in terms of quality, noise production, aesthetic look and resistance type.

While options such as magnetic and hydraulic resistance do exist, the two most popular types of rowing machine are water rowers and air rowers. Air and water rowers come with a typically sturdier design than other options and provide a work out which better simulates the movement of rowing.

Water Rowers

Water rowing machines are a newer technology than air rowers and start at a higher price point. They provide a smoother action and are generally quieter than air rowers. They are appreciated for their aesthetic look and pleasant splashing noise, which is reminiscent of rowing on an actual body of water.

Water rowers use a flywheel constructed of paddles and surrounded by water. As the rower pulls the chain, the paddles shift in the water and generate resistance. The faster you row, the more water the flywheel must shift and the higher the resistance. Unlike some air rowers, water rowers don’t have a ‘flat spot’ where resistance drops during the stroke cycle.


  • Quiet operation
  • Smooth and consistent resistance
  • Aesthetically pleasing


  • Larger and heavier
  • Generally higher price

Air Rowers

Air rowing machines are more lightweight than water rowers and generally available at a lower price. They are commonly used for training by athletes who are looking for a serious workout. Advanced technology means you can better track your performance via inbuilt monitors.

Air rowers work in a similar method to water rowers, except they generate resistance by spinning the flywheel against the flow of air. Much like pushing water, pushing air also generates resistance and the fanned flywheel must use force applied by the rower to continue spinning. As more force is applied, the flywheel increases speed and the resistance also increases.


  • Generally lower priced
  • Better monitors and tracking
  • Take up less space


  • Louder during operation
  • Less aesthetic design

Which Is Best?

Water and air rowers are both equally respected in the fitness community for their ability to offer a full-body workout across many resistance levels, while remaining a low impact exercise on the body. With their own unique advantages and disadvantages, each choice can be appropriate for a different set of circumstances.

Different brands of rowing machine will also haveadditional features to be considered. No matter which type of rower you pick, you’re sure to enjoy an efficient exercise experience which will help you to reach your fitness goals.

Authors Bio:

This article was written by Daniel Defendi, who writes for Orbit Fitness in Perth, the experts in rowing equipment. You can catch him on Google+ to discuss this piece.

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