Full-body workouts help you tone more muscle groups and exercise more zones of your body than anything else, and chief among full-body exercises is rowing.
These water rowing machines offer you a ton of intensity levels, workout variations, and overall a better experience than magnetic rowing machines.
Between being low-impact, highly efficient, compact, and aiding in weight loss, water rowers are also much more affordable than getting three different machines to do the same job and offer the same muscle group focus.
It’s one of the most reliable options you have for an at-home workout, and we’re about to show you why.
Best Overall: Topiom Water Rower
To start things off, the frame design is just fantastic, but it’s also the walnut wood richness and gorgeous to look at. But you’re always going to find a handful of water rower reviews that like to tear the product down.
You can find those anywhere, but the only merit any of them possess is when they talk about the 21-day trial being a bit sketchy. The product itself really doesn’t have any flaws, and the warranty is great, but their trial period doesn’t account for local delivery times and backlog.
Filling this up is super simple, and the maximum user weight limit of 400 lbs is a lot higher than you’ll find on wooden frame water rowers. That all covers the 5-year warranty, by the way, which shows that they really mean business.
If you’re looking to purchase a water rower for the beginning, middle, and end of your weight loss journey that you can use every day afterwards, your quest basically ends here.
But of course there’s a catch, and in this case it’s the price. You can find water rower machines for cheaper, and if you want to downgrade the experience, you can go with magnetic flywheel rowers for even cheaper.
Topiom definitely sits at the higher end of the price scale, but it’s going to be worth every single penny.
The natural water rowing resistance doesn’t have a ramp-up time like you feel with magnetic flywheels, so the entire experience shifts from where you expect from those magnetic machines at the gym.
It allows for more natural resistance since there’s no dials or levels to adjust beyond the fill tank capacity, and leaves you feeling adequately sore without overdoing it. You’re not going to get a better experience than this.
Runner-Up: The Ergatta Rower
This wooden water rower isn’t exactly cheap, but it is one of the best full-body experiences you’ll ever have. Starting from the top down, let’s talk about that full HD LCD screen. Everything comes in nice and crisp, and the size is more than large enough to be visible during all types of use.
You get plenty of health static information, as well as a way to watch water rowing workout classes to enhance your experience. Ergatta is one of the best water rower machines out there, but as always, you can’t expect everything to be perfect.
The reservoir is actually pretty frustrating to fill compared to other water rowers. Once it’s done, it’s done, but having a pain-free process during your setup definitely makes the experience that much smoother and nicer.
Hook up your Bluetooth fitness device to your LCD screen to get real-time reading, and enjoy one of the best seats that we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing.
It sounds silly to gush over a seat, but thanks to the way Ergatta designed this ergonomic seat, back pain is a thing of the past, and your posture is almost auto-corrected (if you sit on it the right way).
Posture is a major problem with rowing in general, so this is a big plus for anyone that’s serious about their exercise routine being precise and perfect.
While it costs a bit, a professional will deliver and setup your entire machine in a relatively short amount of time.
Some users reported that installers refused to fill the tank due to the possibility of soaking the wood and angering receivers, but this is a per-person basis (plus it’s really not a big deal if you have to fill it yourself; the rest of the work is done for you).
Ergatta surprised us, because at this price point we were completely ready to tear it down and find every flaw imaginable, but there just aren’t that many. It’s the most expensive rower on this list, but if you’re serious, it’s worth every penny and then some.
Alternative: Spirit CRW900 Rower
The aluminum frame is pretty heavy, which is one of the only things that keeps it in place. The rubber traction padding on the bottom is meant for poured asphalt flooring (similar to what you find in gyms), or tile, so a mix of the weight and traction padding will help keep it in place.
It has a quality screen, but it’s a bit small and far away from the rower. It’s not something that’s highly interactive, but it does track your progress properly so you can see where your fitness goals are and how you’re catching up to them.
They almost made the perfect seat. It’s ergonomic to help with proper leg circulation during rowing, but it’s not quite as comfortable as we were hoping for. It’s exercise, so it’s not about being comfortable, but it also shouldn’t punish bad posture so harshly.
You really have to know how to use a water rower before you hop on this for proper posture.
The warranty covers ten years on the frame, but just two years on labor, so if you do run into any problems (which is unlikely), the labor costs come straight out of pocket.
However, if you damage an aluminum frame to the point of repair, you really have to be trying. The one bonus is that you also have five years on parts, so if you have to chat them up for a missing piece or a replacement for one that gets damaged, it’s all covered.
Alternative: Bluefin Fitness Blade Aqua W-1
This puts you just under a thousand dollars while still being an authentic indoor rowing experience.
Construction is fairly simple and should take under an hour, and filling the tank is simple (not a given on a lot of rowing machines). It’s not easy to fold up and store, but it is doable, and the built-in wheels make it a little easier to move around once you have it folded up.
It’s best to just pick a great spot to keep this and designate it to stay there, but the option to fold it up is there.
One place that they dropped the ball is on the seat. It’s very basic and doesn’t give you the ergonomic feeling that you need. The problem with totally flat seats like these is that they can cut off minor circulation in your legs during use, which isn’t going to help anybody row better.
Your foot pedals have attachment options to accommodate taller rowers, and the resistance on your pull bar is fantastic.
One thing that Bluefin did properly is give you a large enough screen with actual definition and backlighting, so you can use it to track your progress and integrate with the Kinomap app to actually row through scenic rivers and waterways on-screen.
Bluefin is a middle-of-the-road option that helps you out with pricing, but doesn’t compromise on quality or attention to authentic rowing details.
Alternative: Marcy Pro Water Resistance Rowing Machine
First and foremost, you have a comfortable ergonomic seat that allows you to actually lean naturally without obstructing blood flow into your legs (a common problem with poor seating in water rowers).
The track that it slides on is smooth and has a great glide to it, so there should be no stuttering during exercise.
As one of the best affordable water rowers out there, the only major complaint we have is in the water tank distribution. Because it’s at a 45° angle, you get an odd rowing sensation.
It still emulates real rowing, but it just feels off, and this is one of the few rowing machines out there that actually do that.
We have to talk about the included screen, and why it’s better to use your phone. The machine itself is great, but the lack of backlighting on the LCD screen (not to mention its size and distance from the user) is pretty upsetting.
You’ll be able to access similar data from a fitness tracker or smartwatch, for which we have our own buying guide right here.
The stand has great traction whether you’re on a carpeted surface, hardwood, or any other flooring, preventing wiggling and any jostling during exercise.
Last but not least, there are extenders for your feet accompanied by some of the most supportive foot straps we’ve ever seen, so you can customize your workout based on your height and desired tightness over the toe boxes of your shoes.
Marcy made a great, nearly top-tier water rower minus a few small caveats. This is one of the best ways to get close to real rowing.
Water Rower FAQ
Are Water Rowers Better?
Better than magnetic flywheel rowers? Yes.
While you get a similar handle, seat, and pull system to a magnetic flywheel rower, there’s extra resistance that isn’t entirely natural. The magnetic flywheel feels different from using a water rower (it’s hard to explain without having you use one).
When you pull on a water rower, you get an even level of resistance from the water inside of the wheel. With magnetic flywheels, it has to rev up, and then it gets a bit easier towards the end of your pull. It doesn’t emulate natural rowing like a water rower does, so it feels different on multiple levels.
Overall, it’s a better and more enjoyable experience, and also has the benefit of being more consistent and feeling more natural than magnetic flywheels.
How Much Does it Cost to Fill a Water Rower?
It’s extremely inexpensive. While most water rowers will use liters for their markings (because it’s easier to divide than quarter-gallons), one gallon is equivalent to 3.74 liters.
Well, it costs $1.50 for 1,000 gallons of tap water in the United States (on average). That means that if an average rower allows for 16-20 liters of water for most average levels, it costs under a single cent to fill your entire water rower.
However, water prices are different everywhere. You could account for between $0.01 up to $0.05 at max. If you’re not happy with the minerals and additives in tap water and want to add more yourself, you can purchase chlorine and add it to your water.
You obviously won’t be drinking your rowing machine water, but it’s still important to not add too much chlorine to your water.
Why? Because even though chlorine doesn’t actually smell, it can make the water toxic to drink, so in the event that your pet dog or a small child somehow find their way into that water, a standard amount of chlorine won’t make it toxic.
Also, before Google scares you, chlorine and chlorine dioxide are completely different.
Should I Use Distilled Water in My Water Rower?
Absolutely not. You should use tap water, known as municipal water. The reason behind this is water treatment.
Municipal water is treated with special chemicals that remove impurities from the water, or enhance the water in some way. In reality, the entire point is to make sure it’s considered safe to drink (by the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards)) between point A and point B.
Point A is the water treatment facility, and point B is your home—the tricky part is making sure it’s still safe to drink as it travels through the pipes.
Piping isn’t something that we replace every five years, so sometimes it’s 100+ years old. Water treatment helps in various ways, but it’s not perfect.
So people think, “Well that sounds dirty, I should put distilled water in my water rower”—we see where you’re coming from, but hold your horses. The one thing about distilled or purified water is that it doesn’t have that treatment in it to prevent the growth of algae.
Algae in your rowing machine could damage the parts, create horrible odors, and require you to perform maintenance (cleaning) on it more often than you should ever have to worry about.
You should still change your water out every 3-6 months or so, but with distilled water, it would be much more frequent.
How Do You Add Water to a Water Rower?
Water rowing machines come with different container filling methods depending on the brand and manufacturer of the machine.
There are two main types that you should be aware of.
- Top Tank Filling: There’s an opening on top of the water rower’s main compartment, which you can fill and then plug back up.
- Siphon Tube Filling: This is used in more high-end water rower machines. A siphon tube connects to a water source, and the other end to a water tank. A hand pump is activated, and the remaining water is gravity-fed into the basin on the rowing machine.
For top tank filling options, it’s pretty simple: just open up the tank, and pour water into the desired line.
Siphon tube filling sounds tricky, but it’s actually rather simple after the first time. Connect one end of the siphon tube (it should be labeled) into the water tank, and the other into the water source. You typically put your water source on top of the water tank while you fill it.
Use the hand pump in the center of the two tubes to begin pulling water in, and gravity will continue to do the work for you afterwards.
However, you need to pay close attention to the water fill level. A higher level (more liters of water) relates to a higher difficulty, but if you go to or past the maximum, you could void the warranty.
In terms of home gym equipment, a water rower isn’t the cheapest item, but it’s something that will outlast everything else if you treat it properly.
Rowing Your Way to a Better Body
Rowing continues to persist as one of the best full-body workouts that you could possibly do. It incorporates many different muscle groups, allows you to tone your body in numerous areas, and pushes you to the next limit of your workout routine.
Water rowers work better than magnetic flywheels for a more natural feeling during your workout, but which one did you feel was right for you?
The best day to begin your new workout regimen was yesterday—decide which water rower is best for you, and don’t waste another minute.
This full-body workout is the ultimate at-home solution, regardless of how much space you have available. It’s time to row your way to a better body.