Updated: Sep 23
Exercising has a huge variety of health benefits for both your mental and physical well-being. An indoor rowing machine is an excellent addition to any home gym for a good upper and lower body workout - whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been working out from home for years.
Best Indoor Rowing Machines: 5 Hydrow Rower Alternatives
If you've done any research on the topic, you know that the Hydrow rower is one of the most popular indoor rowing machines on the market. This is thanks to its innovative technology and on-demand workout classes.
The price tag on the rowing machine might leave you in search of the best Hydrow rower alternative - luckily, there are plenty of other rowing machines! You just need to know what features to look for. Here are the top options for the best indoor rowing machine out there.
What Are the 4 Types of Indoor Rowing Machines?
While the Hydrow rower is an electromagnetic rower, there are actually four different types of rowing machines to choose from. Understanding each type can help you choose the best indoor rower for your needs. [*]
Magnetic Rowing Machine
Most rowing machines derive resistance from a different source. With a magnetic rower, the resistance comes from a series of magnets. This makes for a very quiet experience. It also allows the machine to have a compact structural frame, making it smaller than any other type of rowing machine.
While the size of this compact rowing machine, as well as its quiet nature, makes it one of the most popular, it's also appealing thanks to a wide range of resistance levels. If you get a good quality one, like the Hydrow, you'll never be bored.
Hydraulic Rowing Machine
Hydraulic rowing machines get their resistance from pistons that are attached to the machine's handles, which connect to the fluid inside the cylinder. While other rowers tend to have one handle, hydraulic rowers often have two. Some people find that multiple handles create a similar experience to a real rowing motion, while others disagree. It ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Hydraulic resistance machines are usually quieter than water or air machines, and can also be compact and affordable. There is one downside to note: if you plan to work out for longer, this type of machine might not be best for you. This is because the fluid in the cylinder can heat up over time, which decreases resistance, potentially limiting the effectiveness of your workout.
Water Rowing Machine
Water rowing machines are fairly loud thanks to the round drum full of water that provides their resistance. While many people enjoy the whooshing sound of the water, some may find it too disturbing, especially if there are others living under the same roof.
The machines are more aesthetically pleasing than others as they're often made of wood. Plus, they do a great job of replicating a real rowing motion for an intense workout.
However, these rowers won't fold or split into two pieces, so you'll need a fair amount of space. They're also heavy and they don't typically have adjustable resistance.
Air Rowing Machine
The air rower gets its resistance from air moving through the slats on a wheel, often called a flywheel. The air resistance offers a smooth rowing experience, and most machines have adjustable resistance.
Air rowers have been on the market since the 1980s. The Concept2 Model A was the first, using a bicycle wheel and chain to create the resistance. Now, the Concept2 Model D is one of the most popular, with a standard measurement used in indoor rowing competitions.
While air rowing machines are among the most popular, they're also the loudest. If you live with other people, this might not be the best rowing machine option for you.
Hydrow Rower Workout Machine Overview
What makes the Hydrow rowing machine so popular? This piece of fitness equipment checks almost every box in terms of a smart rowing machine. [*]
Rowing Machine Build
The Hydrow’s design is sleek, complimenting any workout space. It's easy to put together and it can be stored vertically in more compact spaces.
It's also comfortable. It has ten rollers under the cushioned seat, allowing you to slide silently and without friction as you row, making for a realistic experience. The machine has wide footrests to accommodate anyone. Plus, the seat height and handle are perfectly placed for optimal comfort to your back and knees.
This smart rower uses magnetic resistance, so you’ll enjoy a quiet workout experience. The magnetic resistance gives you a strength and cardiovascular fitness workout that engages 86% of your muscles.
Advanced Technology Software
The Hydrow is also one of the first to advance the indoor rowing machine in terms of interactive rowing workouts. If you get on any other cardio machine - from treadmills to stair climbers - you'll find a variety of programming to guide your lower and upper body workouts.
While rowers previously lagged behind this category, the Hydrow finally offers interactive classes, making cardio fitness fun with live classes and on-demand workouts. You access these full-body workouts via a 22-inch HD touchscreen monitor and sound system. Choose from over 3,000 workouts with elite athlete instructors and views from around the world.
You can also adjust resistance levels from the same home screen, setting your workout intensity to as low or high as fits your fitness level. Either way, you can get an interactive rowing experience with the Hydrow rowing machine.
Indoor Rowing Machine Price
The Hydrow is the most expensive rowing machine out there at $2,495. If you want the Hydrow Works Package, which includes all the attachments you'll need to get a full-body workout on and off the machine, you'll pay $3,045.
You might be able to get it on sale around the holidays, but even then, it's much pricer than the cheaper alternative options we'll discuss below.