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“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing
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“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing – We Actually Row!”

How to Use a Water Rowing Machine

how to use a water rowing machine

If you’ve read any of my posts before, then you know that I have a real passion for rowing. While it may not be everyone’s favorite sport, exercise machine, or pastime, I have found it to be completely addicting.

One of the best things I ever did was buy my own rowing machine for my home gym so I didn’t need to rely on my local gym. Are you considering doing the same? I don’t blame you one bit. Going to the gym can be fun, but it can also be a hassle.

In this article, I want to talk about the best way to use a water rower, how it differs from other types of rowing machines, and the best choices when it comes to water rowing machines. Are you ready? You’ll want to read this article before purchasing anything so you can decide more confidently.

What’s the Best Way to Use a Water Rowing Machine?

If you’re concerned that you may not know what to do once you have the machine at home, don’t worry, I’m letting you in on my little secret.

lady learning how to use waterrower

You can get the most out of your indoor rower by using a HIIT program. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it is the bomb!

HIIT It Up with Your Water Rowing Machine

HIIT means that you spend a set number of minutes working out as hard as you can, then you rest, or slow down, for a set number of minutes.

For example, you might row 200 meters as fast as possible, then slow down for the next 100 meters. You repeat this sequence until you hit your goal (i.e., 2000 meters).

HIIT rowing workouts are done only every other day, and you will burn more calories than if you did a typical 30-minute workout every day.

Personally, I prefer working out every other day and building more muscles, as well as burning more calories, than doing a typical workout.

You can find tons of HIIT rowing workout programs online for you to follow. Nothing is more effective than HIIT, whether you’re using a water rower or another type of rowing machine.

How Long Should You Use a Water Rower?

That would depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Most people find that using a water rowing machine for 30 minutes most days of the week will help them lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, as well as keep them in good physical condition.


If you have a lot of weight to lose or want to lose weight more quickly, you should consider using your water rower for 45 minutes most days of the week.

You should always give your body at least one full day each week to rest and build new muscles.

If you’re trying to improve your current fitness level, or if you want to work your cardiovascular system, you might aim for 45-60 minutes each day.

Which Is More Important, Speed or Form?

If you’re new to rowing, I cannot stress enough that proper rowing form is far more important than speed.

Think back to when you were learning to drive a car. Which do you think was more important, driving in your lane and using turn signals or going really fast?

The same applies to your water rower. You could go really fast and ignore proper form, but that only guarantees you a sore back and sore shoulders. You may hurt so much that one day you just give up on the whole thing.


Some rowing machines have programs that include teaching you the proper form. If yours does not offer this, you might want to consider taking a class or two at your local gym or neighborhood lake that offers rowing classes.

You can also take advantage of many of the free online videos that explain how to use a rowing machine properly, such as this one. Place a mirror next to your water rower so you can see yourself as you row and correct your form.


As you progress, you will find that your rowing technique comes naturally, so you can focus on your speed. Form over speed every single time, friends.

What Is the Difference Between Water, Air, and Magnetic Rowing Machines?

You may have your heart set on a water rower, probably because you’ve used one in the past.

If you are new to rowing machines and aren’t really sure, let’s take a few minutes to talk about the difference between these types of rowers.

First, when speaking about air, magnetic, or water rowers, we are referring to the type of resistance they use. You need resistance to work your muscles against so you can improve your physical fitness.

For example, weight lifters use dumbbells to offer resistance to their muscles.

Rowing Machines and the Different Types of Resistance Used

You may see indoor rowing machines using more than one type of resistance, but here are the 3 main types:

  1. Air Rowing Machines. An air rowing machine uses fan blades and air as a means of resistance. Since air is unlimited and plastic fan blades are inexpensive, air rowing machines are a popular choice. However, air rowers tend to be really, really noisy.
  2. Magnetic Rowing Machines. This type of rowing machine uses a large metal flywheel and magnets. The closer the flywheel is to the magnets, the more resistance there is. Magnetic rowers are popular because they are nearly silent, which is good for those who live in apartments. Some brands make use of magnetic and air resistance to combine the best qualities of both magnetic and air rowers.
  3. Water Resistance Rowing Machines. These rowers use a type of fan blade inside a water tank. The resistance comes from trying to push the fan blade through the water, similar to the resistance you feel when rowing. You can add more water or remove water to increase/decrease resistance. Water rowing machines are also popular because they simulate rowing and the gentle swish sound of water is relaxing to many people.

While these are the most popular types of rowing machines, in this article, I want to focus on water rowers. You can read more about a variety of rowing machines here.

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What Is a Water Rowing Machine Good For?

Perhaps you’ve seen Kevin Spacey use a WaterRower in the series House of Cards. While that may explain some of the popularity of water rowing machines, there are plenty of other reasons for loving this type of indoor rower, including:

  • The rowing workout is smooth as butter. It really is about as close to rowing in a boat as you can get.
  • Rowing is a terrific aerobic workout.
  • Rowing is a full-body workout that works 86 percent of the muscles in your body every time you row. This includes the arms, body, legs, and core muscles.
  • This is a low-impact workout that is excellent for those who have bad knees, arthritis, or back problems.
  • Water rowers are easy to store in most cases. They can usually be made to sit upright and take up no more space than your average dining room chair. Side Note: If space is tight check out our top folding water rowing machines.
  • Water rowers are very affordable. While not as inexpensive as an air rowing machine, you will find that water rowers cost far less than some other types of rowing machines (looking for value see my Topiom Rowing Machine Review ).
  • This type of indoor rowing machine can, for the most part, support heavy users. Some water rowers, such as the LIT Strength Machine (click here to read out the great LIT Workouts), can support users weighing up to 450 pounds while the Ergatta supports up to 500 pounds!
  • Water rowing can be almost like meditatiing. Many users find the swooshing sound of water soothing to the mind and body.
  • You will also find that water rowers are generally aesthetically pleasing. The Ergatta, for example, is made from custom cherry wood and will fit right in with most home decors. It showcases American craftsmanship and ethos – the same qualities you’ll find in the WaterRower because they’re built by the same maker.

These are just a few reasons why water rowers are very popular.

Which Water Rowing Machines Should You Invest In?

man learning how to use water rowing machine at home

I’ve used both the Ergatta indoor rower and the LIT Strength Machine, so I can tell you firsthand that these rowing machines are two of the best ones out there.

Buying a rowing machine for your home gym is an investment in your health. You want to get the most out of your machine and make sure that you’ve picked the right one for you.

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People who will really enjoy a water rower include those who want to feel like they’re really rowing on the water.

If you love the sound of swooshing water and you don’t have any issues with your neighbors, then you’ll love this type of indoor rower. The swooshing sound isn’t that loud, but you can hear it in the next room.


If you want a rowing machine that will last forever (or at least a decade) you might want to consider the LIT Strength Machine. This water rower comes with built-in resistance bands and a lifetime warranty on the frame. Read that one again, a lifetime warranty! If the frame should break or develop issues, the company will send you a replacement. You can’t go wrong with a guarantee like that!

If you prefer to do interactive game-based rowing workouts and race against others, you should check out Ergatta. This water rower comes with a tablet containing very special software designed to entertain and engage you as you work out.


Everyone is different, but depending on your preferences, you can definitely find a water rower that suits you and your budget.

The Bottom Line

Take it from me, water rowers are the bomb!

If you love playing games, racing games, rowing without coaches and instructors disrupting you, and if the look of a cherry wood fitness equipment inspires you, you should seriously consider the Ergatta. I get addicted to racing, and I’m always trying to beat my own time!

If you’re the type of person who gets wired up thinking about cost-efficiency and value for money, and if you want a water rower that will really last, you should take some time to look at the LIT Strength Machine. This water rowing machine not only offers a futuristic look, but it also has a lifetime guarantee. There are resistance bands attached to the rower, with HIIT workout programs that are so varied you cannot possibly become bored.

Water rowers are terrific, soothing, and a great workout, no matter which type of water rower you decide to buy.

Stay healthy, happy, and safe, my friends!

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