Air-Rowers Vs Magnetic Rowers

Air-Rowers Vs Magnetic Rowers

On the surface it can appear that all rowers are designed the same, with only small changes in aesthetic and style. They work the same muscle groups, and you're doing the same movements, so they must be the same, right?

Not exactly; there are some key differences between Air-Rowers and magnetic rowers. This instalment of the Rival Strength blog will run through the pros and cons of each design, and which is the right one to help you reach your goals. 

Not sure if a rower is what you need? Take a look at our 'Air-Bikes Vs Spin Bikes' blog! Click HERE.

You can read more about the Air-Rower, and how it, and our other fan-driven cardio machines work, HERE in our blog: 'Air-Bike Vs Air-Rower Vs SkiErg Machine - What Should I Buy?' 


Main Features:


The key feature of an Air-Rower is the flywheel fan used to generate resistance. Resistance is generated when you row, and as the fan starts to spin, it creates air resistance. The harder you work, the more air resistance is created, meaning the more effort you put in, the harder your workout is going to be. 

Magnetic Rowers

The other types of rowers on the market use a magnetic brake which is controlled by a monitor or adjustable knob. By pressing a button or turning the knob to higher settings, it moves the magnet closer to the metal flywheel which slows it down, making it harder to row.


Air-Rowers - Pros

Air-Rowers are great for users that want a more accurate and realistic rowing experience. By using air resistance, this mimics the resistance as if you were on the water, and the harder you row, the more resistance will build and the harder you're going to have to work to maintain your speed. This makes it great for rowers who can't get on to the water as much as they'd like.

They're also great for users who want to do HIIT workouts, as you can increase/decrease your speed/resistance easily, and can't 'cheat' by doing your workout on a low resistance setting. It can also train you to be consistent in your rowing by trying to hit specific speeds/times and not rowing too fast or too slow.

The monitor features accurate live data recording, and also includes preset and custom interval programs that guide you through the workout. You can also create custom target programs where you set a time, distance, stroke, or pulse target you have to reach.

Our Air-Rower also includes a damper setting, which controls how much air enters the flywheel fan. A higher setting allows more air to enter the fan, which makes the row feel heavier, and a lower setting makes it feel lighter.

The Air-Rower is also great for storage as it's a very light design. Air-Rowers and magnetic rowers can also be split in half and stored in two smaller pieces.

Olympians and competitive rowers use Air-Rowers due to their more accurate data monitoring, and because every competitor is on a level playing field as resistance is due to effort.

Air-Rowers - Cons

The flywheel makes a quite loud 'whooshing' noise, especially when rowing at high intensity. This can be quite frustrating whilst watching TV, or with neighbours/other people in the room over.

They're very 'all or nothing'; if you want to feel resistance, you have to row hard. This isn't ideal for low rep high resistance workouts, or high rep low resistance workouts.

 Air-Rower Disassembled Upright                                           Air Rower Flywheel Fan                   Air Rower Seat, Footrests, Handle

Magnetic Rowers - Pros

The adjustable knob/monitor gives you more control over the resistance you feel when rowing. If you want to focus on building strength, you can set the resistance to higher and do slower rows, or you can target endurance and set the resistance low, and row faster.

Some magnetic rowers even feature a monitor that automatically adjusts the resistance for you, which is great for workout programs and varying the resistance whilst you row without having to stop and adjust it manually.

They're practically silent, as there is no point-of-contact between any of the moving parts, which makes it great for home-use in a smaller setting.

As with Air Rowers, they're great for storage as they have wheels, and can also be split in half at the seat rail.

Magnetic Rowers - Cons

It isn't a true reflection of real water rowing, so isn't great for those who want a realistic rowing experience or rowers training when they're out of the water.

You can 'cheat' by rowing at lower resistance levels, and not work as hard as you could/should be.

It's hard to find the perfect resistance to work at, and it's not great for HIIT as you'll never really know your true maximum without changing resistance all the time.


So, which is best?

Whilst Air-Rowers and magnetic rowers have some great similarities, the main differences really depends on how you plan to use them.

If you crave a more realistic rowing experience and want to really push yourself to the limit to reach those higher resistance levels, then an Air-Rower is 100% the one for you. You can't cheat with an Air-Rower, and to really improve your strength and endurance you have to work hard and really go for it, which makes it great for doing HIIT workouts. This is where the monitor is brilliant for guiding you on the interval presets, or creating your own intervals, or even setting your own time or distance targets. 

If you want more variable workouts with different degrees of resistance then a magnetic rower is what you need. You can set the resistance for building strength or endurance, or even follow a preset workout program that automatically alters the resistance whilst you row.


So have a think about what your goals are and which rower is the right one for you, as they both have their benefits and can really help you improve your physical fitness in different ways.

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