Top Water Rowing Machines: The Ultimate Buying Guide

WaterRower Club Machine on white background

Top Water Rowing Machines: The Ultimate Buying Guide

When it comes to cardio, there really isn’t any equipment out there that can compare to the solid workout going for a run provides. That is, except for the rowing machine. These devices were once incredibly outdated, but they’re making a major comeback in the world of fitness.

Within the past few years, rowing machines have become modern and highly refined exercise equipment. If you’re looking for a new, low impact way to work cardio into your routine, then we’ve gathered all the information you need to know as well as our top picks from around the web.

A Rowing Machine?

We were new to these devices before this article, and the name brought to mind a device that could row a boat on its own. As it turns out, these machines function on a similar principle to the action you would make while rowing but add a whole other level of fitness to your regular workout regimen.

Aside from being an excellent cardio workout, the act of rowing also works every major muscle group in your body. That includes your:

  • Core
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back
  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Arms
  • And shoulders
waterrower tank of water

If you’re looking for a full body workout, then a water rowing machine is ready to deliver. At the same time, these devices are considered low-impact exercising tools, which means you can enjoy a full-body workout without added strain on your joints and muscles.

Now, you will still need to be careful when using one of these devices. Proper technique is essential to injury prevention, and even more vital to reaping the full benefits these machines have to offer. Combined with a proper diet, people have reached their weight loss goals without any other workout involved.

The power comes from using your legs to push the rolling seat back, then using your arms to pull the handlebar-strapped weights into your chest. It takes immense core strength to slowly and methodically repeat the motion, as well as strong back muscles to sit up straight the entire time. Check out this video tutorial from Lee Hayward on how to use a rowing machine.

Combining the power of cardio with a muscle building workout is the perfect recipe for weight loss and a healthier you. Whether you want to stay in shape, get in better shape, or simply lose some weight, then you can’t go wrong with a water rowing machine.

How do we know? Check out the section below.

How We Chose Our Ratings

Since we were new to this piece of workout equipment, we took extra care crafting out top five list. As always, our goal is to provide you with nothing but honest, accurate information. To reach that goal, we incorporate a lot of research into our lists.

Since this is a workout device, the two areas we focused on most were statistical data surrounding rowing machines and the experience of those who own them. Customer reviews from those who have used their device for extended periods of time are vital parts of this list, as is the science behind the workout itself.

We still took brand recognition into consideration, too. However, the best information comes from the consumer in this industry. After hours of reading and researching, we’ve pulled out what we believe to be the best five water rowing machines on the market.

Top 5 Best Water Rowing Machines

Without further to do, we present the top five water rowing machines on the market. Our list starts from a five out of five-star rating and works its way down from there.

WaterRower Club Rowing Machine w/ S4 Monitor & Hi Rise Attachment
  • WaterRower Dimensions: 82in x 22in x 28in / Weight: 114 Lbs (With Water) / Storage Dimensions: 28in x 22in x 82in...
  • Built For Light Commercial Use and Practically Maintenance Free, Rowing Machine Targets All Major Muscle Groups (84...
  • Made W/ Kiln Dried Harwood; Danish Oil and Urethane Finish For Better Wood Performance/Strength and Cozy Feel To Your...

When it comes to finding a quality water rowing machine, WaterRower takes the cake. Their handcrafted, solid wood machines are built with both quality and eco-friendly initiatives in mind. As for the workout, their patented water resistance system is designed to make you sweat.

The machine itself is quiet to use, the rowing action is smooth, and a Series 4 monitor helps you stay on top of your fitness goals. This model can easily be stored standing up to save space, too.

The unique feature is the paddles inside the water basin. They’re cupped to provide ample resistance from the very first stroke, and users entirely agree that this is one amazing workout machine.

Weighing 117 pounds, this is a hefty device. You’ll also have to assemble it yourself, which can be time-consuming. When it comes to adjusting the resistance, like all water rowers, you’ll have to manually adjust the water level.

If those aren’t too big of cons for you, then the solid construction and simplicity of the Club Machine are going to help you push yourself to the limits in a safe way. We give this highly rated product a full five stars.

PROS

  • Quality machine
  • durable and will last for years.

CONS

  • Footrests as usual

Quality

Price

Rating

$$$

First Degree Fitness Indoor Water Rower with Adjustable Resistance -...
  • HIGH-QUALITY WATER ROWER - Engineered with a steel head frame with hand lacquered sustainable American Ash wood side...
  • PATENTED VARIABLE FLUID RESISTANCE - Multiple levels of resistance provides the seamless progression that fits any level...
  • LIFE-LIKE WATER ROWING EXPERIENCE - Enjoy rapid recoil system for rapid strokes for the best total body workout,...

Small, compact, and easy to use, the First Degree Fitness water rower is also a powerful machine. It remains surprisingly quiet, but users seemed most excited about how comfortable it was to use. The handles and pedals are soft, and the build is designed to reduce both arm and leg strain.

At only 68 pounds, this is one of the lightest models on the market. Unfortunately, that also means its maximum capacity is reduced to just 300 pounds. Compared to other models, that’s quite a small number.

This device does come with an excellent 5-year warranty on the frame, three for the tank and seal, and 2 for the mechanics. There is also a full year for parts coverage. Throw in the rugged steel construction, and First Degree Fitness’ machine is one appealing piece of equipment.

PROS

  • Most people who will buy the first Degree Fitness Rower. They shout out loud about the significant change in the difficulty level.
  • The water tank has 2-3 years cover with it.
  • As much as you wish that the weight would go, using a First Degree Fitness rower will get you the weight loss that you want. Just use it and watch it go.

CONS

  • Well, there are none to mention. Although I’ll quickly say, the belt drive is a different option. It can occasionally need adjusting. However, don’t worry, the instructions are in the manual.

Quality

Price

Rating

$$$

Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor
  • Handcrafted rowing machine with "water flywheel" that replicates actual rowing feel
  • Flywheel sits in enclosed water tank to provide smooth, quiet, self-regulated resistance
  • Series 4 performance monitor tracks workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, and more

Easily the best looker on the list (in our opinion), the water-resistant wood design remains surprisingly lightweight at only 99 pounds. A built-in iPad holder allows you to multitask as you exercise as well as add further statistics outside of the built-in tracker.

Resistance levels can be adjusted from one to five, and the design is excellent in providing the full body workout you’re looking for. On the downside, it is incredibly large, and several users noted that it's hard to keep clean. Regardless, this machine does exactly what it is intended for.

PROS

  • It comes with an iPad holder.
  • It offers a full body workout.
  • It measures your distance, time and resistance.
  • You can adjust your resistance level between 1 and 5.

CONS

  • It’s very expensive.
  • It’s very large so it’s relatively difficult to store.
  • The seat foam isn’t covered so it’s difficult to keep clean.

Quality

Price

Rating

$$$

The Oxbridge provides the quiet, smooth, pleasurable experience that WaterRower equipment boasts. It’s easy on the eyes and features the same Series 4 tracker as the GX model. A lack of moving parts means less maintenance overall, and the wood used in its construction is designed to absorb sound vibrations for a quieter experience.

We do need to point out a few negative reviews that kept popping up for this one, though. Several noted that the tank is prone to leaking, while others said the machine slowly moves forward while in use. Others also mentioned that provided app is lacking.

For the possibility of damage, WaterRower does provide a one year warranty with their device that can be upgraded when you register your machine on their site. We can’t speak for the app, but we’ll take their word for it. Thankfully, there are plenty of other excellent fitness apps out there to use.

A bonus for the Oxbridge is its ability to fold up for compact storage. Folded or mid-workout, this is an excellent option for anyone low on space.

PROS

  • It’s smooth and quiet to operate.
  • The wood absorbs sounds and vibrations.
  • It requires minimal maintenance.
  • It has very few moving parts so there’s a reduced risk of breakages.
  • It has a Series 4 performance monitor for progress tracking.

CONS

  • The tanks are prone to leakages.
  • The machine creeps forward when in use.
  • The app for this machine isn’t very good.

Quality

Price

Rating

$$$

WaterRower GX Home Rowing Machine
  • PERFECT FOR HOME USE - Water Rowing Machine is made of ash wood with an aluminum monorail. Sturdy enough for everyday...
  • HANDCRAFTED AND ECO-FRIENDLY - Each rowing machine is handcrafted from premium Ash hardwood that is left unstained and...
  • LOW-IMPACT YET POWERFUL WORKOUT - The patented WaterFlywheel gives this rower machine the perfect low-impact workout....

Equally as good to look at as it is powerful, WaterRower’s GX model provides much of the same benefits found in their Club Machine model. Solid wood construction makes for a durable piece of equipment, and the tracker provides the basics metrics you’ll need to track your progress.

On the downside, this is one heavy machine that surprisingly only supports 300 pounds. WaterRower could have either added more features or dropped the price for this one as well. However, it still provides a solid workout without the higher cost of other WaterRower models.

PROS

  • It provides a full body workout.
  • It requires little to no maintenance.
  • It has a very aesthetically pleasing design.
  • It provides a realistic rowing simulation.

CONS

  • It’s quite heavy.
  • In comparison to its features and its recommended use, it’s quite expensive.

Quality

Price

Rating

$$$

PRODUCT

IMAGE

DETAILS

PRICING

RATINGS

WaterRower Club Rowing Machine w/ S4 Monitor & Hi Rise Attachment

They’re cupped to provide ample resistance from the very first stroke, 

First Degree Fitness Indoor Water Rower with Adjustable Resistance -...

Small, compact, and easy to use, the First Degree Fitness water rower is also a powerful machine.

Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

A built-in iPad holder allows you to multitask as you exercise as well as add further statistics outside of the built-in tracker.

Water Rower Oxbridge Rowing Machine Accessories: None

Oxbridge provides the quiet, smooth, pleasurable experience that WaterRower equipment boasts. 

WaterRower GX Home Rowing Machine

WaterRower’s GX model provides much of the same benefits found in their Club Machine model.

Buyer’s Guide

There’s a lot to consider before purchasing a water rowing machine, or any rowing machine in general. Every device has the same core design, but it’s the finer touches that separate these products. Here’s what to look for. 

Resistance

The most important factor of any rowing machine is the resistance it offers. Without that, it wouldn’t be much of a workout device at all. You can choose from:

  • Water
  • Air
  • Magnetic
  • Or Hydraulic

We decided to cover water models in this article for a few reasons. For starters, the resistance is instantaneous and continuous. There’s no building up resistance like you might have to with air or magnetic models, and the experience is as close to rowing as it gets.

Mechanical rowing devices can sometimes jerk or jar, making your experience an unpleasant one. Water resistance is as smooth as gets when it comes to this exercise and sticks with the low-impact benefits that many desire in their machine. This also provides a more even stroke, which is vital to a total body workout.

Finally, the connection is smooth. Since there is no substantial connection between you and the water, the system provides a little give while you hammer out your technique. This helps to reduce injuries.

You might find that you prefer another form of resistance, as many do. We stuck with the countless user experiences we read for each and decided that water models offered a little more for your workout routine than the rest.

Comfort

We can’t stress this enough. You’ll be sitting in an upright position for extended periods of time with zero back support, which makes it crucial to find a machine that’s comfortable. Pay attention to the padding on the seat, the foot pads, and any adjustable features that can make your workout more enjoyable.

Noise

Some of these devices produce a lot of noise when in use. That may or may not bother you, but it’s something to take into consideration. It helps to place your rower in an open room, which significantly dampens the noise level. 

The Monitor

The majority of rowing machines come with an onboard computer that gives you real-time data on things such as heart-rate and calories burned. Some can pair with apps to add additional features, and others are simply distance counters. More features mean a higher price, so you’ll have to consider whether or not the added data is worth it. 

Storage and Maximum Capacity

When it comes to storage, you have two options: a machine that folds up neatly and one that doesn’t. If you have ample space in your home, then you might not have to worry about your device sitting out on the floor. However, homes with limited space should definitely take advantage of the fold up variety.

As for maximum capacity, rowing machines can handle more weight than your average gym equipment. Their simplistic design and lack of moving parts mean that maximum capacities are large in number. It’s still a good idea to make sure the machine can support both yourself and any added weights you might want to use.

Warranty

Finally, it never hurts to look into warranty coverage. If anything should happen to your machine, it’s nice to know that the company will send you a replacement one within a designated amount of time. Some have more than others, so make sure to read the fine print.

One Final Note

You might also want to keep the price in mind. Since this is a larger purchase, it can be financed from different manufacturers as well as retail sites for those that hold store cards. However, don’t feel like you need to spend all of your money to get a better workout. Something within your budget can help you achieve your fitness goals just the same as the priciest model.

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