FAQs About Air Resistance Rowing Machines

By Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

There are always more people on the market are looking to buy air rowing machines and they have tens of questions about air resistance rowing machines before they are able to buy an indoor air rower.

Knowing this fact and receiving multiple emails from our readers, I have decided to create a general frequently asked question page about air resistance home rowers.

In this particular article, I will try to answer to some of the most common questions about air rowing machines in the UK, air rowing machines in Canada, or in the US. If your question is not included in this article, please leave a comment to send me an email.

Are air resistance rowing machines any good?

Yes, they are good if that is what you want. There is no such thing as a “best” machine type, there’s only the best machine for you and your needs. The only reason I ask about air resistance rowing machines in this article is because it is the topic I am most often asked about. I would say that generally speaking (there are always exceptions), air resistance rowing machines generally reach the same level of performance as water rowing machines but louder. This does not mean they’re bad though! On the contrary, they can be very good pieces of equipment when used properly, especially if you have limited space to work with and/or limited budget.

Do air rowers have resistance?

Yes, almost all of them have some form of resistance, dynamic or dynamic plus manually adjustable. The higher end models have adjustable resistance which you can control with a knob or lever, while some lower end budget rowers use preset levels/difficulty settings that cannot be adjusted manually.

How do air rowers work?

This is a good question! I’ll try to keep it simple. Air rowing machines function similarly to regular exercise bikes where you move the pedals/handles up and down with your feet against a fan wheel . In an exercise bike, you pedal by rotating a wheel against a stationary object (the ground, for example). In an air rowing machine , instead of moving the fan wheel against the ground like in an exercise bike, you move it away from you with your feet. When the fan wheel moves away from you, it pulls/tugs on a suspended cord which is attached to a handle or a seat, making you move in that direction. Rowing machine resistance how a rower works, feels and how loud it is.

What resistance levels do air rowers have?

This varies from one model to another and what differentiates various models tends to be the more advanced features they offer (adjustable resistance, etc.). This can be hard to tell if one does not possess firsthand knowledge of an air rowing machine . With that said, generally speaking: – Air rowers tend to have 8-20 levels of adjustable resistance. On some lower end machines, this may be limited by using preset modes instead of manually adjustable settings; on some higher end/more advanced/more expensive models, the resistance levels might be adjustable without preset modes. – Air rowers tend to have about 16-30 different resistance levels if they use preset modes instead of manually adjustable settings.

How intense and challenging are air rowing machine workouts?

Just like with any exercise equipment, it depends on how you work out with them and what level of intensity you bring into your workout . A lot of this comes down to personal preference and experience using such machines. People who get used to working out at higher intensities (e.g., sprinting) will find that most air rowing machines cannot compare in terms of physical demands; while some people may not find high-intensity workouts effective or enjoyable enough for their fitness goals.

How long do air rower workouts take?

This varies from one machine to another and depends on the resistance levels you choose. As a general rule of thumb, if you pick relatively lower resistance levels (say level 8) on most machines, you can reasonably expect your workout to take about 30-60 minutes; while picking higher resistance levels (e.g., level 12+) will cut your workout time in half or even less than that depending on individual fitness/strength/experience factors, etc.. On models with preset modes, the intensity is mostly fixed by which mode you choose; however this does not mean that each different mode will result in the same length of work out because may still affect your calorie burn depending on your level of intensity (e.g., fast rowing vs. slow rowing).

Do air rowers use sensors? What are they used for?

Almost all higher end models (i.e., the ones with adjustable resistance) come equipped with some form of sensor which measures certain workout metrics such as the number of strokes you’ve made, pulse/heart rate , calories burned, etc.. This is something that’s generally not seen in lower end models . The purpose is to help you track how well or poorly you’re progressing during your workouts and determine if adjustments should be made in terms of further workouts/food intake/rest duration, etc.. For example, if your stroke count has increased by 10%+ after a month of regular workouts, that could mean that your muscles have become more efficient and you’re ready to increase the resistance levels. On the flip side, if your calorie burn has not increased significantly, this might indicate that you need to push yourself harder or work out for longer at a relatively high intensity (e.g., sprinting) to boost your calorie burn.

What is “stroke count” and how does it affect rowing machine performance?

Stroke count refers to the number of times you move the handle/seat across its full range of motion when using an air rower . This metric tends to be measured in terms of “strokes per minute,” which can vary depending on how fast or slow a person rows. Generally speaking, the average number of strokes per minute is anywhere from 24 to 33 for adults/adolescents > 14 years old. The higher the stroke count, the more intense your workout will be . This is because there are less resting periods between strokes when you row faster (e.g., 20 vs. 30 sec.).

How does adjustable resistance affect workout intensity?

Adjustable resistance levels in air rowing machines determine how much power it takes to move the handle/seat when you’re working out. The lower the resistance level , the easier it is to propel the machine across its full range of motion.

What is the difference between air and magnetic rowing machines?

The two main difference between air rowing machine and magnetic rowing machine are the air rower noise and the rowing feel. Air rowers are noisier than magnetic rowers but the rowing feel is more enjoyable and natural than magnetic rowing machines.

Best air rowing machines


To make an informed decision and to get all the answers you are looking for, I highly recommend you to read my rowing machine buying guide. There I talk mainly about what you need to look for when buying an air resistance or any other rowing machine. Plus, that article will answer many more questions that. you might have. If you have any questions about clothing, I suggest you to read my indoor rowing exercise clothing guide where I answer many questions about how to dress and what to wear while using a rowing machine.

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