What is a Water Rowing Machine?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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A water rowing machine is a piece of fitness experience that simulates the experience of rowing a crew boat using water as the form of resistance. Rowing machines have been in use since about the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, a number of kinds of sports equipment technology have been invented and produced to improve upon the original models, which did not do a very good job of simulating the exercise of rowing a boat.

The basic, most common structure of a water rowing machine, or any kind of rowing machine for that matter, includes a seat that is connected to a track upon which it can move back and forth. In front of the seat is a device that is called a flywheel. The flywheel is the part of the machine that creates the resistance that is needed to perform an exercise. The resistance created by the flywheel is meant to simulate the resistance that is experienced when an oar is dragged through water while rowing. Attached to the flywheel is a chain, at the end of which is a handle.


The exercise performed on a water rowing machine includes a fluid movement from a position in which the knees are bent, the body is close to the flywheel, and the arms are held straight out in the direction of the flywheel to a position in which the legs are straight, the body is pulled back and away from the flywheel and the arms are pulling the handle close to the chest. It is the resistance within the flywheel which creates the intensity of the exercise and works the arms, upper body, and legs. When done properly, this kind of exercise is a goof full-body workout.

Indoor rowing machine models have used piston resistance, magnetic resistance, and air resistance. Now there are also machines that use water as their main form of resistance. The flywheel is filled with water, inside of which there is a paddle that is rotated by the movement that is performed during the exercise.

Whereas many kinds of rowing machines include an upright flywheel, the flywheel in a water rowing machine is often laid flat at the front of the machine. The faster one moves while working out on a water rowing machine, the more intense the resistance becomes. This makes the water rowing machine different from other rowing machines that include settings to increased or decrease the resistance level.


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