Rowing machines are a great way to get in shape no matter your fitness level. The two types of rowing machines that you’ll find at most gyms are magnetic and air rowers.
If you are looking to understand the difference between rowing machines air vs magnetic rowers in this post I break down the pros & cons of these two popular rowers for you to make an informed selection and achieve the best home rowing workouts possible.
Magnetic rowers use magnets to produce resistance, while air rowers use fans or blades to create resistance with each stroke. The main difference between these is how they generate their resistance, but there are other factors too! Read on for more information about the pros and cons of both types of rowing machines.
Benefits of Indoor Rowing Machine Workouts
Indoor rowing machines offer the best and most economical way to get a complete body workout, including a great cardio workout. And they can also be used all year round so that you don’t need to worry about the weather interrupting you from establishing a regular rowing exercise schedule for your rowing workouts routine.
Most indoor rowing machines offer one of the best and most economical ways to get a complete body workout, as well as great cardiovascular exercise. The rowing machine provides one of the most comprehensive workouts and targets all major muscle groups, strengthening and toning your arms, legs, glutes, abs, and stomach. Rowing with a rowing machine delivers an all-in-one workout routine, saving you time working out and getting the most exercise benefit and the least amount of time.
Although there are many different models of rowing machines on the market. They can be broken down into 4 main groups or categories of rowing machines types. The two most common, popular, and effective types currently are the air-rowing machine and the magnetic rowing machine.
Table of Contents
What is the Best Rowing Machine Air vs Magnetic Rowers?
In this post, we will examine the pros and cons of rowing machines air vs magnetic rowers for your health and cardio workouts so that you can make the best decision when deciding which is right for you with regards choosing air vs magnetic rowing machines and make the most informed decision yourself with regards which rowing machine is better air or magnetic.
Air rowing machines provide a very realistic simulation of rowing on a lake or water. These rowers offer a great workout and there are great benefits that you will gain from the workout depending on how the resistance you set on the air rower and how much effort that you put into each stroke.
The Pros of Air Rowing Machines
Air rowing machines are felt to be superior by many users as indoor rowing machines because of their smooth rowing stroke action with a similar sensation to water rowing.
Air rowers can reproduce every stroke with the same air resistance as when rowing on water. Water provides constant resistance and pressure so the air rower is able to produce a similar resistance but from using air resistance.
The same principle applies to air rowers as with water. Air is forced through the fan blade assembly and the fan chamber. This allows for the force of air resistance on each stroke to be consistent and the feedback when rowing which you feel is also then consistent.
The resistance for each stroke is also constant throughout the whole range of the rowing motion. With an air rower or sometimes also called a fan rower or flywheel rowing. You don’t need to worry if some strokes have more resistance than others.
The air rowing machine’s consistency of air resistance allows for a consistent workout throughout the whole workout session. These workout rowing machines are compact due to their design and can easily be stored in most closets or in a corner of a room after use.
Air rowing machines price-wise are generally placed in the middle of the market of indoor rowing machines. Although there are some workout rowing machines that employ both magnetic and air rowing features, which can be more expensive.
Air rowers are a good choice for serious fitness rowers and athletes who enjoy good indoor rowing workouts for regular exercise.
The Cons of Air Rowing Machines
The downside to the air rowing machine? It is much noisier than all the other types of hydraulic, magnetic, or water rowing machines. The air rower machine is known to make a whooshing sound caused by the air rushing through the fan blade assembly. This can be irritating for some users if you are not used to it.
This noise increases as you increase the speed of your strokes. Although this can be a problem with the machines, it can actually be a positive. The air rower machine creates a breeze from the flywheel chamber, which is beneficial for users who tend to overheat while using the machine.
The flywheel rowing noise also creates a rhythm that many rowers enjoy as it creates a positive sound or rhythm to keep up with when fitness rowing like a beat to follow. So this con is very dependent on the user preference.
However, you may consider the wind created by air rowers a problem during the winter months if you exercise in a cold environment as this will cool you further.
So this con is also very dependent on the user as it can be beneficial if you are training in a warm environment as it will help to keep you cool and more able to maintain your rowing exercise at an optimum level throughout your whole rowing workout.
Sometimes a disadvantage experienced for many users exercising at home with any strenuous workout routine is getting too hot. So an air rower may be a consideration for you if you have a warm environment you are training in when working out.
Because of their smooth actions and uniform air resistance between strokes, air rowers are considered to be far superior to hydraulic models.
Air rowing machines are also extremely cost-effective and offer a more consistent, smooth workout than many other types of rowing machines.
The noise and the breeze from the fan rower may not be a hindrance for you when you use these rowers in the gym which is a larger environment.
But you need to consider if this will be an issue when you using a fan rower at home. Would the noise disturb your family when you are working out or restrict the times that you can use the air rower for your workouts?
Our Top Rated Air Rowers From Customer Reviews & Feedback
If noise is not an issue we recommend you take a look at the large range of air rowing machines available and you can also view the currently recommended air rower the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Performance Monitor.
If you have experienced any rowing activity in a gym or fitness center, it is very likely that the Concept rower was the machine that you used as these rowers are extremely popular rowers for professional use and very robust strong design rowing machines for high-intensity workouts and high levels of regular use.
Our Top Rated Air and Magnetic Rowers From Customer Reviews & Feedback
If noise may be an issue then we recommend you take a look at the following hybrid air and magnetic rowing machine. This is a new evolution of rowers using hybrid technology to combine the benefits of both air and magnetic rowing the NordicTrack Rower RW900 here.
The biggest concern voiced with air rowers is their consistency for your workout and how accurately you are able to repeat the workout, session to session. Although some air rowers have a resistance setting you can adjust the airflow, the biggest factor is the speed that you row as this is the main factor to the resistance generated.
Some indoor rowers voice this as a concern but again it is a user preference how much of a concern this would be. The faster you row the more resistance that you feel, the slower that you are rowing, the less resistance you feel.
It has never been something that I personally have considered an issue and similar to when on water, there is no set resistance and your speed of rowing is the determining factor as to the exercise and the benefit that you achieve from the rowing workout.
Air rowers are definitely a good choice for a good cardio workout at home and you can see many gyms populated with air rowers to see that they are a great cardio choice.
Are Air Rowers Better Than Magnetic Rowers?
A common question I get asked is “are air rowers better than magnetic?” when considering rowing machines magnetic vs air rowers. But the main differences between magnetic and air rowing machines are the way resistance is generated and the noise that they emit.
The amount of effort you put into an air rowing machine will determine its resistance and the increased noise that it generates.
The resistance of an air rowing machine increases when you are rowing faster. This causes the flywheel to use a higher level of wind resistance.
Magnetic rowing machines use magnets for their resistance control. This means that the resistance does not change with how fast you are rowing, you need to adjust the resistance yourself.
Magnetic rowing machines do not use air to create resistance they use magnets. So you can row at the same speed with both types of rowers but the resistance that you feel with the magnetic rower could feel a lot less.
With a magnetic rowing machine if you need more resistance you adjust the control which makes the magnets move closer together. When you want to decrease the resistance you adjust the control the other way which makes the magnets move further apart.
This makes magnetic rowers much quieter than air rowing machines in use and especially if you are intending to undertake quite intense rowing workouts.
The Pros of Magnetic Rowing Machines
If noise is an issue then magnetic rowing machines are certainly quieter than air rowing machines. No more worrying about disturbing friends and family when you want to work out and no more limiting yourself when and where you want to work out.
You will need to check specifications on the model you purchase but many magnetic rowers are described as near-silent mechanisms.
Magnetic rowers are increasing their market share and the number of rower models within the ranges available from manufacturers designed for home use has definitely increased.
The Cons of Magnetic Rowing Machines
Some users advise the resistance that they feel with magnetic rowers is not sufficient when rowing and the settings that are available do not provide enough high range settings to make this resistance feel high enough. Some magnetic rowers will only have 8 resistance levels.
This may be fine for many users who only want to use it for light rowing or for higher rep workouts and speed rowing when they may not require so high a resistance level on their rowers.
Best Magnetic Rowing Machines for Cardio Workouts
There are magnetic models that have 16 levels of resistance so again this is an area where you want to check users’ reviews for feedback depending on your needs.
The other con with some magnetic rowers is that the resistance needs to be adjusted manually which means interrupting your workout routine to adjust the resistance mechanism and then build back up to your previous rowing speed. To maintain the best continuous cardio workout choose a magnetic rower with an in-built computer.
There are magnetic rowers available which have electromagnets and these can be adjusted as part of an automatic workout routine program such as with an interval training workout routine with an internal computer on the rower. These are more expensive but should definitely be a consideration for you if you have the budget.
Magnetic rowers are definitely a good choice for a good cardio workout at home if you match the rower to your cardio training needs. As a minimum, we would recommend selecting a rower model with as many levels of resistance settings as possible, so that it will last you as you progress your cardio workouts routines.
As your cardio improves from your rowing workouts you want a rower with some headroom in the resistance levels to be able to grow with your improved cardio results that you will achieve in the future and you certainly don’t want to be looking for a new rower in just a few months time.
If storage is a concern for the rower in your home you may also want to consider foldable rowing machines which are available for most types of rowers, both air and magnetic. And means that you can easily fold your rower away after your workout session to save you space in your home until your next rowing workout session.
Our Top Rated Magnetic Rowers From Customer Reviews & Feedback
You can check out the large range of magnetic rowing machines available and you can also view the current most recommended magnetic rower the Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor SF-RW5801 Silver here.
Your personal goals and the machine that you are most comfortable with will help you make a decision especially with regards to the choice between rowing machines magnetic vs air rowers.
A magnetic rowing machine is a better option if you prefer to exercise at home or in a quieter environment. Both types of machines can give you a full-body workout. If you are seeing good results with one type of machine at home or at the gym, you don’t need to change.
If it is possible to try out both the magnetic and air rowing machines types at the gym to find out which one suits you best that is always recommended otherwise check out the many recommended rowing machines magnetic vs air reviews here for help making a decision.