Although there are various price points for piston rowing machines, these rowers are less expensive than those using magnetic, air, or water resistance. Sometimes referred to as hydraulic rowers, they offer a budget friendly workout because of their simple design, small footprint, and use of fewer parts.
Hydraulics use force applied at one point to convey that power or movement to another point through fluid. Some vehicles feature hydraulic brakes.
In piston rowing machines, hydraulic cylinders are attached to the handlebars. When the person rowing exerts force on the handlebars by pulling them back, they will feel that resistance of the air or fluid in the cylinders and have to work against it.
The simpler mechanics of this type of rowing machine make it popular with individuals who are looking for a decent cardiovascular workout and some upper body toning. Most piston rowers, however, have fixed seats, so there is no leg movement, minimizing the effects in terms of a full body workout.
This fixed seat position doesn’t emulate real world rowing because you can’t recreate the difference in hand height on the stroke and return. In fact, the sometimes jarring movement experienced with some lower end models may lead to muscle strain or minor tendon injuries.
Not all piston or hydraulic rowing machines offer variable resistance, but if you shop around you’ll be able to find a few. While you can’t adjust the resistance “on the fly” while you’re rowing, you can adjust the tension or resistance on the cylinders before you begin rowing in order to customize your workout to your fitness level.
There are several features that make piston rowing machines an excellent choice for novice rowers or anyone who wants a simple rowing routine. While they may not be suitable for intense rower training, they are more than adequate for a typical individual’s daily workout. Some pros to consider include:
If you’re concerned about getting a full body workout or intend to use your indoor rower to train for actual rowing, there are some drawbacks with a piston machine that you should keep in mind:
Before choosing an indoor rower, take the time to compare the features and cost of each machine in relation to your own needs and budget. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, reliable machine that’s easy to care for and use, one of the many piston rowing machines now available may be the ideal choice.
When it comes to choosing the best hydraulic rowing machine on the market today, it's usually a matter of personal preference. We like the Kettler Favorit, which has been on our best rowing machines list for quite some time.
It's a solid choice from a solid company that puts a lot of time and research into all of their cardio equipment, and it's a good choice for those on a budget who just want a good daily cardio workout.
The top choice of professional rowers and health clubs, a quality piece of equipment and a great investment for your home gym.
BEST WATER ROWER
The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is a stunning piece of fitness equipment and offers an amazing simulation of the feel of on-the-water rowing.
BEST BUDGET ROWER
A solid budget model offering great value for the money, with continuous resistance and ergonomic design.