Just browsing amazon for indoor rowers, you probably get distracted by the “flashy” details and ignore the actual quality.
With tons of brands and models, buying an indoor rowing machine can be tricky. You may have a good impression on one since you’ve read its product description, but end up in nightmares,searching for buyer beware. Wasting time and money to unbox the item, repackage and return it over and over again.
To pick a rowing machine once and for all, the preparation you need to do is knowing what sort of rowers should be out of your list.
Avoiding these 3 mistakes will save your time and money :
- Flawed design rowers that can’t allow proper rowing motions.
- Not enough adjustability and comfort level.
- Monitor doesn’t provide basic metrics or display inaccurate numbers.
#Mistake 1: Choosing an indoor rowers with flawed design
The most important thing is the rowing machine can allow you to complete a full range of motion. If a rowing machine can’t let your body lean forward and your arms reaching to the front all the way, then it’s not a worthwhile rower.
First, Let’s start with the proper rowing motions.
As you can find, you’ll keep your shoulders a little bit in front of your hips when doing the recovery motion. And that’s how an Olympian performing to row.
Indoor rowing machine with weird handlebar position
Look at this HouseFit rowing machine. The handlebar and footplates are almost in line with each other that can’t allow you to get a full range of motion. Because the machine hinders you from reaching paths when you take a fully compressed rowing stroke. And your arms will go further than the point where the strap feed into the machine.
Model: HouseFit SKYLINE R50 Rowing machine
Cons: Don’t allow the fully compressed rowing motion.
So, how to identify if it’s an ergonomic indoor rower?
It’s all about the distance between the mid-foot position and the point where the strap/chain feed into the machine. At least, they should be 60 cm away from each other, as shown as the image below:
Indoor rowers with pivoting footrests
Model: MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine
Cons: Pivoting footrests.
Note: You should avoid purchasing any model with pivoting footrests, not only just this one.
I’ve been asked for multiple times about the pivoting footrests model. In my opinion, that design is a gimmick, also prevent a full stroke.
Because when you need to take a fully compressed rowing stroke, your knees will get over your ankles for the most part.
As you can find in the “Release and Repeat” motion, it seems weird for her toe is already pointing downwards but she hasn’t completed the compress rowing stroke yet.
When you want to compress to get your knees over your ankles, your toes end up pointing downwards, resulting in a bad rowing form.
And if you consciously try to keep your heels down, you end up only getting 2/3 stroke.
Again, don’t buy an indoor rowing machine with pivoting footrests. Or it will be hard for you to maximize body mechanics for rowing strokes.
Beware of flawed resistance settings
Model:Pro-form Sport RL Smart Rower
Cons: It doesn’t have a smooth resistance from the start to finish.
This rowing machine is now popping up in Costco all over the united states. It seems hard to come by at the lower-end price range for a rowing machine featuring 24 resistance levels. But is it truly worthy? Or it is just such another gimmick?
The main issue is that the stroke is not smooth from start. It feels clunky at the initial step of rowing stroke for this rowing machine needs some time to connect and you will feel a jerk at the start of pulling. And if you row on a high intensity, its straps/resistance pulleys can’t catch up and you will feel some slack.
Be mindful about that 24 resistance level setting. There isn’t much difference between resistance 1 and resistance 24. If once you pulled so hard, you might feel you can out-strength the resistance. This is something that you might need to consider if you seek progress on the rowing machine.
Unlike air dampers or water rowers (the harder you take your rowing stroke, the more resistance that you feel initially), every time you “Drive”, you feel the constant resistance, instead of variable resistance.
Here is a video that gives you a clear idea of its weirdness.
#Mistake 2: Buying an indoor rower but ignore the adjustability
Adjustability comes from the footpads and the rail’s length. The rowing machine should allow you to place your feet correctly.
Indoor rowers without adjustable footpads
Model: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5856 Magnetic Rowing Machine
Cons: Doesn’t have adjustable footpads.
Its footplates are not adjustable, you can still tight your feet in. But if you’re someone who has bigger shoes, you might find the strap placement is too low on your foot.
Many beginners don’t know how to place their feet properly. The right way to do this is to make sure that the strap sits the widest part of your feet.
In order to accommodate your feet, you should choose a rowing machine with sliding footpads.
Model: Topiom Water Rowing Machine
Let’s look at the picture above. It has the adjust-button right in the middle, allows you to raise/down the heel cup to accommodate your shoe size.
There is another type of adjustable footplates, just like this one:
Model: Concept 2 Model D Air Rowing Machine
They both work for the same reason: allowing you to place your feet in the right position, and the proper rowing motion.
If you’re more than 6’6″, you may have to buy a specific model to accommodate the height. Because you need to get your leg fully extend to complete the “Drive” motion.
In order to figure out which model will be your choice, you need to keep the maximum value of inseam length and weight among all users in mind. Inseam is the length of the inside of your leg. This is going to be the length of your leg while you are sitting down rowing. Here is a chart with a rough estimate of height vs. inseam length.
This factor is going to decide how long the seat rail do you need. You can refer to this blog to learn more about indoor rowers suit for tall people.
#Mistake 3: Monitor lacks a lot of metrics
Apart from the extrinsic design that gives you the proper rowing motions, the machine’s monitor should indicate how you perform.
If you’re looking to use rowing as an integral part of your fitness routine and improve your health, then you’ll need a functional digital monitor.
Model: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
Cons: Incomplete data tracking.
How does this machine track your actual rowing performance? Let’s break and see it.
The monitor is very simple and lacks a lot of the metrics that you would want to use if you want to improve your rowing long term. It only shows you your stroke count, the duration, and arbitrarily determining calories burned. It’s not taking into account you’re your body weight and your fitness level but just adding the number.
Turns out, this monitor only tells you your stroke count and how long you’ve been rowing for. It doesn’t even tell you the intensity or your speed. How are you supposed to track your progress long-term if you don’t know how fast or how hard you row?
With the lack of being able to see your intensity or even see how many strokes per minute that you’re taking, it makes it almost impossible to follow any guide of rowing program.
To let you have scientific training, the monitor is required to have basic metrics like time, distance, calories burned, strokes per minute (speed), strokes. You can also expect the 500m split time section on those high-end monitors.
It displays inaccurate data
Apart from what sort of metrics does the monitor offer, the accuracy comes to prior.
Model: Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine
Cons: Wrong data acquisition. Limited data to display at the same time due to the smaller screen.
In its description, the monitor displays time, distance, total count (stroke count), calories burned, strokes/min, and scan. It seems like a fully functioned monitor stands for high-end indoor rowers. And it sounds pretty fair that it came to this price.
However, the data produced by the console are completely crapola except for the stroke count and the timer. The machine increases the distance count by 10 meters every time the seat passes back and forth by a sensor. Thus no matter what effort you are doing, whether you are tall or short, the distance is simply proportional to the stroke count.
Apart from that, the formula to calculate calories burned hasn’t taken your effort as a factor. This value is incremented by either 0.1 or 0.2 every time the seat passes the sensor back and forth whether you pulled on the bar or not. Pulling on the bar but not moving the seat does not register any caloric use. Thus this number is also fake and does not come from a true ergometer.
What’s the point of showing inaccurate data? In a word, it’s not worth that $600 price tag.
How to choose an indoor rowing machine that values your money?
Hopefully, you’ve known what sort of specific features to ponder on. Apart from avoiding those features I’ve mentioned, there are a great many factors to consider when evaluating a rowing machine is perfect for you or not. So I went ahead to create this step-by-step buying guide, and I hope that could help you to make the smartest investment in your indoor rowing machine.
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