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A water rower replicates the feeling of rowing on water. Water rowing machines can provide a total body workout and allow users to exercise at any time in the comfort of their own homes. However, this type of rower may not be suitable for beginners or people who experience back pain.

A quick look at 5 of the best water rowing machines

Water rowing machines are adjustable, which means that a person can set them to suit their build and fitness levels. This also means that friends or family members can use them as well.

A person can set the machine to the resistance level they require and track their training progress, such as their stroke rate and how many calories they have burned.

This article looks at the suitability, benefits, and safety considerations of water rowing machines. It also investigates three water rowing machines that are available to purchase online.

Water rowing machines are exercise machines that replicate the motion and feeling of rowing a boat on the water.

The machines have a large water tank at the front or underneath the machine. It is this water that produces resistance when a person pulls back on the handles.

It is possible to remove the water tank to decrease the intensity of the workout, making the machine more suitable for children.

Because water rowers use water instead of a mechanical system to produce resistance, they are a much quieter option for a home exercise machine, making them more suitable for those who live with other people.

Other types

There are other types of indoor rowing machines. These can include:

  • Wind rowers: Wind rowers are lightweight and generate resistance from the air with a flywheel and fan blades. This type of rower may be noisy when in use, so it may not be suitable for those who live with other people.
  • Magnetic rowers: Magnetic rowers use a magnetic brake system to provide resistance and offer a quiet ride and strong rowing strokes. They are also lightweight and can come with performance monitors that include pre-programmed workouts.

Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Size and capacity: MNT selects products to suit people of different heights, weights, and strengths.
  • Connectivity: Where fitness equipment has fitness memberships or subscriptions, MNT ensures variation in classes and services that benefit a person’s health.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Ease of use: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. If setup is complicated, MNT chooses brands that offer a set-up or installation service.
  • Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure its products are safe for personal use.
  • Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices and that offer reliable customer service and support.

Below are some of the best water rowing machines available online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Best for different training exercises: Xterra ERG600W Rower

List price$462.16
Dimensions (LxWxH)80.7 x 22 x 33 inches (in)
Maximum user weight300 pounds (lb)
Display5.5-in LCD console

This water rowing machine comes with a 5.5-in LCD console that displays a range of information, such as workout duration, calories burned, strokes per minute, distance rowed, and room temperature.

The machine also has six water-based resistance levels and five programmable modes.

Some other features include:

  • solid steel frame with dual aluminum slide rails for a smooth rowing motion
  • large contoured seat with height adjustability to increase comfort
  • stand-up design and transportation wheels for storage

It has seven workout programs, so it may suit people who wish to engage in different training exercises.

According to the company, this water rower weighs 87 lb.

Shipping and warranty

Xterra Fitness offers free shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The product also comes with:

  • a 5-year frame warranty
  • a 2-year parts warranty
  • a 90-day labor warranty

Pros and cons

Some pros of the Xterra ERG600W rowing machine are:

  • may be suitable individuals with limited storage space
  • ability to raise the seat height
  • different training programs

However, the company states that it may experience shipping delays.

The product also carries a warning that it can cause exposure to chemicals, including toluene and acrylamide, which may cause cancer, birth irregularities, or other reproductive harm.

Best for a foldable machine: Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine

List price$549.99
Dimensions (LxWxH)80 x 22 x 34 in
Maximum user weight300 lb
Displaybuilt-in fitness tracking display

The Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine is built with 16 hydro-blades that are compatible with vigorous rowing strokes and multiple levels of water resistance.

It also comes with:

  • a performance monitor
  • floor stabilizers
  • transportation wheels and SpaceSaver design
  • non-slip foot pedals
  • wide padded seat for comfort and hip and back support
  • a fitness meter for performance tracking, which is compatible with heart rate belts and monitors

Sunny Health Fitness state that the rower’s folded dimensions are:

  • Length: 34 in
  • Width: 22 in
  • Height: 80 in

The rowing machine’s foldable design makes it suitable for persons who do not have enough exercise and storage space.

According to the company, this water rower weighs 91.9 lb.

Shipping and warranty

The company offers a 3-year warranty on the structural frame and a 180-day warranty on other parts and components.

Sunny Health Fitness also offers free shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

Pros of the Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine include:

  • compatible with intense workouts and competition training
  • space-saving design, so it may suit people with limited exercise or storage space
  • transportation wheels

Some cons include:

  • may not be suitable for beginners
  • product reviews mention difficulties with replacing damaged items

This item also comes with a warning regarding cancer risk and reproductive harm.

Best for all fitness abilities: Battife Water Resistance Rowing Machine

List pricearound $599
Dimensions (LxWxH)82.7 x 22.4 x 20 in
Maximum user weight350 lb
DisplayBluetooth monitor for fitness tracking metrics

Battife’s Water Resistance Rowing Machine features:

  • a Bluetooth monitor that displays strokes, time, and intensity
  • a quiet water resistance mechanism
  • transportation wheels

Pros and cons

Some pros of the Battife Water Resistance Rowing Machine include:

  • a smooth ride that does not disturb other people
  • may suit taller people
  • is suitable for men, women, and children with any level of fitness

However, according to reviews, some cons include:

  • the instructions are difficult to follow
  • the machine is heavy
  • some customers received damaged items

Best for a less noisy machine: Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine

List pricearound $599
Dimensions (LxWxH)82 x 22 x 20 in
Maximum user weight320 lb
DisplayBluetooth monitor for fitness tracking metrics

Mr. Captain’s Water Rowing Machine has the following features:

  • three modes: manual, interval custom, and target
  • adjustable footplates
  • an ergonomic seat
  • transport wheels

This rowing machine weighs 58.5 lb.

Pros and cons

This product comes with several pros:

  • zero noise mechanism
  • transport wheels
  • adjustable footplates

However, according to reviews, this machine may not be sturdy. Additionally, some people found that Mr. Captain’s customer service was not very helpful in addressing concerns.

Best for app support: Stamina Elite Wave Water Rowing Machine

List pricearound $568
Dimensions (LxWxH)85.35 x 202.25 x 32.75 in
Maximum user weight300 lb
DisplayLCD monitor for fitness tracking metrics

Stamina Elite’s Wave Water Rowing Machine has the following features:

  • custom workouts
  • water tank with adjustable fill level
  • wireless heart rate transmitter

This machine is compatible with Muuv, the audio coaching app. This may benefit people who prefer personalized training exercises to help them reach their fitness goals.

This product weighs 71 lb.

Shipping and warranty

Stamina Elite offers a 3-year frame warranty and a 90-day parts warranty.

Pros and cons

This rowing machine has the following pros:

  • offers personalized workouts
  • access to the Muuv app
  • easy to assemble

However, according to reviews, the foot straps may not be very secure. Additionally, some people had problems calibrating the machine.

The following table compares the water rowing machines in this article.

Xterra Obsidian SurgeBattifeMr. CaptainStamina Elite
LCD display5.5 infitness tracking displayBluetooth fitness tracking displayBluetooth fitness tracking displayfitness tracking display
Dimensions80.7 x 22 x 33 in80 x 22 x 34 in82.7 x 22.4 x 20 in82 x 22 x 20 in85.35 x 202.25 x 32.75 in
Product weight 87 lb91.9 lb60 lb58.5 lb71 lb
Maximum user weight limit300 lb300 lb350 lb320 lb300 lb
Price$462.16$549.99around $599around $599around $568

Some factors to consider before purchasing a water rowing machine include:

  • Design: Some water rowers are wooden, which may complement a person’s home decor and furniture.
  • Space: Water rowers can take up a lot of space, but some are foldable or can stand upright. This may be helpful for people who live in small accommodation and need to store the machine away after use.
  • Noise: Water rowing machines are much quieter than many other exercise machines. However, the water may still generate some noise as it moves around the tank.
  • Transportation wheels: Some water rowers have wheels to make moving the machine easier. This feature may be helpful if a person plans to move their machine to exercise in different places or store it after use. Transportation wheels may also help prevent muscle strains from lifting the machine to move it.
  • Performance tracking: Some water rowers may come with an electronic display that tracks the user’s workout duration and intensity, their stroke rate, and how many calories they have burned during their workout.

There are many reasons why a person may choose to purchase a rowing machine for home workouts.

Rowing exercises provide aerobic exercise and resistance exercise that might help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia, according to the authors of Rowing: A Favorable Tool to Promote Elderly Health Which Offers Both Aerobic and Resistance Exercise.

The authors state that rowing machines do not cause a lot of stress on the joints, so they may benefit older adults with obesity. They also provide a safe way to exercise for people who use a wheelchair.

A 2015 study describes how some people with low vision do not participate in active sports due to safety concerns. As a result, some may have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol,” and be at risk of developing obesity or scoliosis.

This study found that after 6 weeks of training on a rowing machine, the study participants experienced a decrease in total body fat and LDL cholesterol. They also reported an increase in protein and albumin levels.

A 2020 study into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected exercise in children and young people also mentions that home gym equipment may be helpful if a person needs to self-quarantine or avoid crowded environments.

The most common injury a person may experience from using water rowing machines is a back injury.

As a result, people may wish to try weight training exercises and aerobic exercises, such as walking or jogging, to improve muscle strength and flexibility.

People who are new to rowing exercise might want to seek advice from a rowing trainer, as this may help them become familiar with rowing motions and ensure they can exercise safely.

Newcomers to rowing exercises can consider starting with a light workout and gradually increasing the intensity.

Rowing exercises target multiple muscle groups at once and might be the best option for a total body workout. However, rowing may not be suitable for people who are less fit, are new to rowing, or are prone to back pain.

Below are the answers to some common questions about these pieces of equipment.

Are water rowing machines noisy?

Water rowing machines may be less noisy than other rowing machines, as they use water resistance instead of air resistance.

These products have a fan flywheel that spins as people pull on the handle. The flywheel displaces the water, which causes resistance.

How do you maintain a water rower?

People should ensure they wipe the rower clean after every use.

Some companies recommend using bottled water to fill the rowing machine’s tank, as some areas may have hard tap water.

If the tank is dirty, a person should empty the water, wipe the tank down, and then refill it.

How much does it cost to fill a water rower?

How much it costs to fill a water rower depends on the water rates a person pays. While some people may pay a flat fee, it is more common for a person to pay a uniform, increasing block, declining block, seasonal, drought, or water budget rate.

It is important to check how much water a piece of equipment requires, and how often it needs changing. For example, some water rowers require 32 gallons of water.

Water rowing machines can help individuals exercise in the comfort of their homes. They simulate the motion and resistance of rowing on water.

People can customize the machine’s resistance by adding or removing water from the tank, allowing a person to undertake light or intense workouts.

Studies suggest that indoor rowing machines may benefit people who cannot leave their house to exercise, do not have time, or live too far away to visit a training facility. Studies have also shown that rowing can reduce cholesterol and improve fitness.

To prevent injuries, individuals who are new to rowing exercises or do not exercise regularly might benefit from doing some other form of light training, such as weight training, until they are ready to use a rowing machine.

It is important to begin any training program at a low intensity and build it up as fitness improves.