Air Rower vs. Water Rower: Which Machine is Better?

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Finding the ultimate rowing machine for your home gym has become a requirement for thousands of people worldwide. It is important to have this high-grade cardio machine because it offers a full-body workout, entertainment, and is just a great fit for most people.

While this is wonderful and people appreciate the benefits of a new rowing machine, there are two popular options available on the open market – air rowers and water rowers.

Which one should a person get?

Here is a look at both types of rowers and what to think about when it comes to their differences as cardio machines.

Biggest Differences Between Air Rowers and Water Rowers

Ergatta is a great water rower

1. Type of Resistance

Resistance is one difference that is obvious and is going to stand out as soon as it is time to choose between the two options.

With air rowers, the resistance is going to be set up using air. When you row, there is going to be airflow that is controlled leading to less or more pressure depending on how you have set it up.

With water rowers, it is different and the resistance is going to come from the water inside the rowing machine. This is going to offer resistance as you row through the water inside.

2. Accuracy of Monitors

Monitors are not going to be the same for both types of rowers.

With a water rower, you are going to have the oddities of water to deal with. The water inside a rowing machine is not going to be as consistent when it comes to producing data that goes back to the monitor. This means you will get a range of metrics that are not accurate.

On the other hand, air rowers are far more accurate and detailed because of how they are designed. Anyone particular about the data coming in should look at air rowers.

3. Controlled Airflow

Controlled airflow is something you are going to notice with air rowers.

This means the amount of air that is going through the machine at a time. This is a key detail to think about especially as you gain a bit of experience using rowing machines.

You will want to manipulate the airflow to ensure your stroke feel isn’t compromised. This can add up and lead to injuries if you are not careful about what you are doing. Air rowers offer a way to toggle through and change the airflow as intended.

Water rowers also provide ways to change the water level, but this is a difference that does stand out.

Differences in Resistance Between Water Rowing and Air Rowing

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1. Water vs. Air

The main difference and one the one you are going to notice right away will be the type of resistance in place with the rower.

For example, when you are using a water rower, the resistance is going to be offered by water. The idea is to mimic what you would experience out in a body of water while rowing.

On the other hand, air rowers work with air resistance as you begin to row. This is not the same as water and uses a different type of resistance to push back at you while you row.

RELATED READING: Is Hydrow or Ergatta Better?

2. Changing Water Levels

Water levels are something you are going to become familiar with when using a water rower.

This is when you can play around with the water settings based on what you prefer. This is going to vary from machine to machine, but the general idea remains.

You can go through and play around with the water level until you are happy with the amount of resistance the machine is offering. This can maximize your workout and ensure you are getting more value per stroke while sitting on the machine.

3. Damper Settings

Air rowers come with what are known as “damper” settings.

These settings allow you to toggle through and play with the amount of air offering resistance. This is critical when it comes to your stroke feel using the machine and how much value it adds to your workout session.

Experts will often toggle through the settings and try to maximize their workout sessions with this feature. You are not going to get that with water rowing, which only allows you to change water levels.

It often comes down to preference as to what you prefer when it comes to making adjustments to the resistance.

Tips for Deciding if Air Rowers or Magnetic Rowers are the Right Option for You

1. Consider the Noise Production

Air rowers are not as loud as water rowers, which is something you are going to want to focus on depending on where you reside and/or how many people are in the house.

If you live in an apartment or a smaller home, you will want to be careful about noise production. It can take a toll on those who are around you.

The water rower due to the water makes more noise with each stroke. This is natural and it is something you are not going to be as aware of with the air rower.

2. Determine Importance of Monitoring Data

This is a detail many people don’t think about when they are looking to buy a new rowing machine.

The idea is monitoring data with a water rower is much harder. Water is not as easy to track, which means the information going back to the monitor isn’t going to be as accurate. This is a natural occurrence that is just a part of dealing with water rowers.

Air rowers offer a more detailed and accurate picture of your performance during the workout session. This can be empowering for those who are laser-focused on what they are doing and pay attention to each data point.

3. Focus on the Stroke Feel

The stroke matters when you are rowing and it is something you will have to think about from day one. A lot of rowing enthusiasts worry about their rowing experience because it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on their bodies.

In this case, the water rower tends to have more of a heavier stroke feel due to the water. This is natural, but it is also challenging on the body depending on your experience.

The air rower is not as difficult and has more of a smoother stroke feel that is easier to adjust to for beginners. Keep this in mind before buying a new rowing machine.

RELATED READING: Peloton vs Hydrow: Is Biking or Rowing Better?

4. Set a Budget

You will have to think about setting a budget when looking at the options that are out there. In general, air rowers have a long list of options in the open market across different price points.

On the other hand, you are not going to see the same variations with water rowers.

They tend to be much higher priced and that is something to take into account for those who are on a budget. Set the budget in advance and then begin to look at the various options that are available for sale.

5. Don’t Forget the Weight

You will have to pay attention to the weight of the machine and this is something a lot of people ignore. Due to the water in the tank, this tends to increase the weight of a water rower. As a result, it is not going to be as easy to move around throughout the house.

If you want to store the rowing machine every day, the water rower might not be a good option. It is going to be much heavier and that can become difficult for users.

The air rower doesn’t have this element to it, so it will naturally be lighter.

What’s the Best Choice for a Water Rower?

If you believe the water rower is a great option for your home gym then it is time to look at the merits of the CITYROW GO. This is highly recommended for those who want a powerful, well-designed solution that isn’t going to get in the way of your home gym setup.

Just the overall aesthetics, build quality, and attention to detail are impressive. You also get to enjoy world-class resistance settings to make sure the rowing experience is silky smooth.

If you want something reliable, the Ergatta (review) is a great water rowing machine:

What’s the Best Choice for an Air Rower?

The market has quite a few interesting air rowers on offer, but the Echelon Smart Rower is an exceptional solution. It offers a plethora of high-end features, remains compact, and is the perfect option for those who want a long-term addition to their home gym.

If the goal is to enjoy scenic rows, live classes, and just a smooth rowing experience then this is the air rower for your needs.

It is perfectly designed to handle everything you are going to throw at it during a workout session. This is where Echelon (review) stands out with its air rowers and why it continues to be a go-to option for rowing enthusiasts.

Learn more and see current Echelon prices.