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Hydrow Drag Setting: What It Does and How to Use It [2024]

Hydrow Drag Setting: What It Does and How to Use It

Hi there, fellow Hydrow owners! I’m Petra, and in this article, I want to talk about the drag setting on Hydrow.

The drag setting on your rowing machine simulates the actual drag on a boat when rowing on water. For Hydrow, the default setting is 104, and most workouts are designed to be rowed at that level.

Comparison of machinesMobile: Comparison of machines

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If you’re a beginner, first try working out at that setting for a few workouts before increasing or decreasing it to what you think is the best fit for you.

If you’re confused about the whole thing, or if you just want to know more about how your Hydrow drag setting works, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s talk about how the drag setting works, what it means, what it does, and all other Hydrow related stuff.

What Should the Hydrow Drag Be Set at?

By default, the drag setting on your Hydrow is at 104. Hydrow feels that this setting most represents what a workout on the water feels like.

I recommend trying a couple of workouts using the set 104 drag setting, especially if you are a beginner. Hydrow designed most workouts to be rowed at 104, so that generally works for rowers of all shapes and weight.

Max Secunda Navigating Hydrow Monitor

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The 104 default is there so you have a baseline, and you can change it to a setting that feels best to you.

Think of the drag setting as the difficulty setting. If you want more resistance or a more challenging workout, then you should increase the drag setting. If 104 feels like you are close to death by the end of a workout, you might want to reduce it a bit and see if you feel better.

But here’s the catch: Nearly all beginners feel like they are dying after 5 or 10 minutes. That’s pretty normal. If you reduce the drag setting, you will probably find that you are still completely exhausted after just a few minutes.


This is because a rowing workout is a full-body workout. You will use 86 percent of the muscles in your body. Beginners will find that they aren’t accustomed to using that much muscle during their other workouts (if you did any exercise at all!)

This is why I suggest that you try using the default drag setting for at least 3-5 workouts. If you feel that you just can’t handle that drag level, then you can always change it.

Pro Tip for Beginners: Start by doing short 10-minute workouts for 1 or 2 weeks. Slowly increase the amount of time you spend rowing by about 2 minutes per week. You will absolutely see improvement in your power output in less than 4 weeks.

How Do I Adjust the Drag Setting on My Hydrow?

To adjust the drag setting on Hydrow, do so before your workout begins for best results. You can also change it as you row.

  • Adjusting the drag before you row. After you select your workout, look near the bottom right of the screen. There is a setting that says “Sound and Drag”. Tap that setting and adjust Hydrow’s drag to the number that you would like.
  • Adjusting the drag as you row. As you are working out, you will see a small gear-like icon in the upper right-hand corner of the monitor. Tap that to change the settings, including the drag.

Adjusting the drag as you row in your Hydrow rowing machine

Don’t go wild and increase or decrease the drag by 50 points! Make small adjustments and then see how you feel. Try moving the drag just 5 notches and then complete a workout to see if you like your new resistance factor.

Does Hydrow Automatically Adjust the Resistance?

Yes, it does!

That is perhaps one of the best things about Hydrow.

As you row, the Hydrow tracks your strokes per minute (SPM), as well as how hard you are pushing with your legs.

 View of Screen on my Hydrow

View of Screen on my Hydrow

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If you don’t seem to be working very hard, Hydrow will increase the resistance level to the next step.

This means that you can actually get a better workout simply by working harder, rather than changing the drag settings.

Most workouts involve doing the basic rowing stroke for the majority of the time spent rowing, however, there are HIIT workouts that involve full power strokes.

Your form and technique also matter. Never try to sacrifice form and technique to gain speed. Your SPM will increase as you become stronger.

How Do I Get a Better Workout on Hydrow?

I hear this question quite often, along with other questions like:

  • How can I lower my split time?
  • How can I increase my calorie burn?
  • How can I generate more power output?
  • How can I get my legs more of a workout?
  • How can I row more meters in the same amount of time?

Believe it or not, all of the questions above have the same, simple answer:

Push Yourself Harder!

Regardless of the drag settings on your rowing machine, YOU are the only one in charge of how hard you are working out.

You can generate more power and lower your split time by pushing harder with your legs.

Your split time is how long it would take you to row 500 meters. Believe it or not, you can get a lower split time not by going faster, but by pushing harder with your legs.

Max Secunda Finish Phase Hydrow Rowing Machine

If you think about rowing like you do lifting heavy objects, you will get a better idea.

If you wanted to move a refrigerator, for example, you wouldn’t dream of trying to use just your arms to pick it up off the floor, right?

You know that you would need to use your legs much more than your arms to pick it up. If you used more leg power, you would be able to pick up that refrigerator higher than someone who was mostly using their arms and very little leg power, am I right?

Keep in mind that a Hydrow athlete (the instructors) are professionals. If you see them doing a 1:50 split, you might think that you’re slacking off but this isn’t really true.

The average split for a seasoned Hydrow user (someone who has used the Hydrow for more than 6 months but isn’t a pro) is about 3 minutes.

Worry more about your rowing form than the drag level on your workout equipment. You’ll see the changes and speed that you are looking for with time.

I Like a Lower Drag Setting on the Hydrow Rowing Machine. Is That OK?

Yes, it is perfectly fine.

While most find that Hydrow’s drag of 104 to be perfect, everyone is different.

woman working out at home using the Hydrow rowing machine

If you prefer a lower setting, then go for it. If your drag is set to a level that is comfortable for you, then nothing else matters!

Hydrow believes that 104 is the best setting for the experience of rowing on the erg. The perfect drag setting for you is the resistance level that you will actually use.

No workout is going to get you results if you don’t get on the machine!

If a higher or lower drag level is what gives you a challenging workout or a more challenging workout, then go for it!

The Bottom Line

Side view of my Hydrow machine

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While Hydrow’s drag setting is 104, they make it adjustable for a reason. Not everyone is the same!

Make very small adjustments to the drag setting and remember that most workouts ( and the most important factors) for getting the best workout come from proper form.

Feel free to adjust the drag if you like, but always make very small adjustments.

I hope you found this article helpful. If so, feel free to pass it along.

Stay healthy friends and happy rowing!